Affordable Auto Service - 952-933-0735 HOURS Affordable Auto Service - 952-933-0735 MAP Professional Auto Repair, Maintenance & Customization Services

Improving Gas Mileage in Cold Weather

Winter Gas mileageWinter is here, and by all accounts it appears it’s here for good. When temperatures drop, so too does your car’s fuel economy. Below, we explain why winter driving lowers your average mile per gallon and share some tips to raise it back up.

Cold Weather and Your Car

One car study found that the average car’s gas mileage drops about 12 percent when temperatures drop below 20°F than if the outside temperature was a comfortable 77°F. Short trips of less than five miles are even worse, as fuel economy can drop up to 22% on quick trips to the store.

Gas mileage isn’t the only thing affected by cold temperatures. Other ways cold temps impact your car include:

  • Engine and transmission frictions increase in freezing temperatures due colder engine oil and other fluids.
  • It takes longer for your car to reach optimal temperature. If it takes 10 miles for your car to reach optimal temperature, a three mile trip to the store means your car is making the whole trip at a less-than-optimal temperature.
  • That said, don’t let your car sit in your driveway for 10 minutes to warm up before you leave. Idling yields 0 miles per gallon.
  • Cold air is denser than warm air, leading to more drag on your vehicle at high speeds.
  • Keeping yourself warm comes at a cost. Heated seats, window defrosters and heating fans require additional power.
  • Tire pressure decreases in colder temperatures. If you don’t adjust them, your tires will create more resistance than normal.
  • Colder temperatures make it harder for your alternator to keep your battery charged. Last year we replaced an incredible amount of batteries as below-freezing temperatures took their toll on old batteries.

Improving Fuel Economy in the Winter

Now that you know why colder temperatures make it harder on your car, here are some tips to improve your gas mileage during the cold winter months.

  • As we mentioned, don’t idil your car to let it warm up. Start your car and wait 10-30 seconds before hitting the road.
  • Don’t overheat your cabin. Dress warmly while driving so you don’t need to crank the heat your whole drive.
  • Avoid short trips when possible. Try to combine trips to multiple errands when possible.
  • Park in a warm place, like your garage or a covered parking ramp. That will keep your initial engine temperature warmer than if you parked on the street.
  • Check your owner’s manual and adjust your tire pressure for the colder temperatures.
  • Get an oil change if you need one, and make sure the mechanic uses a winter-driving blend.

If you want to get a tune-up in now that winter is upon us, contact us for a free quote or to set up an appointment!

Related source: FuelEconomy.gov


  • Fun Car-Related Thanksgiving Facts
    Nov 26, 2014

    Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and soon college students and families will be traversing across the country to celebrate the holiday with one another. If you’re hitting the road soon, now is a good time to brush up on last year’s blog, “5 Thanksgiving Travel Tips” to help you get to your destination safely. In spirit of […]

  • 20 Surprising and Interesting Car Facts
    Mar 27, 2014

    We’re all about cars at Affordable Auto Service. That’s why we came up with 20 odd, amusing and trivial facts about these mechanical wonders. Enjoy!  1. The average fuel cost across all vehicles is 14.45 cents per mile, or about 23 miles per gallon. 2. The best selling car of all-time is the Toyota Corolla. […]

  • How Often Should I Rotate My Tires?
    Jun 5, 2013

    Aside from the brakes, your tires are arguably one of the most important parts of your car because they are tasked with keeping you safe while on the road.  Many people often overlook simple tire maintenance, opting for other routine fixes like oil changes, brake checks, etc.  While those steps are essential in prolonging the […]