Improving Gas Mileage In The Winter
Cold weather can wreak havoc on your gas mileage if you don’t know the best ways to improve it. And who doesn’t want to get the most out of their gas?
Maximizing gas mileage is better for the environment and keeps more cash in your wallet, especially during times of increased gas prices. It’s a win for you and for the planet!
Our top tips to improve your gas mileage in the winter
While it may not be possible to manage all factors that reduce your fuel economy in the winter, here are some tips that can dramatically improve it.
Use Our Overall Gas Saving Tips
Getting better gas mileage starts with these overall gas saving tips that will help all year round. These include:
- Avoid rapid accelerating and braking. Drive at a steady pace.
- Travel at a slower pace. You can improve fuel efficiency by 10-15% by driving lower speeds and utilizing cruise control. This also keeps you much safer on winter roads.
- Only carry what you have to. By reducing the weight of your vehicle, you can improve fuel economy. That said, you still need a safety kit in your vehicle, especially in the winter months and you’ll want to ensure you have items such as a foldable shovel and traction support (kitty litter, sand) when the roads are snow covered and/or icy.
- Don’t let your vehicle idle. This is another one that is impacted by winter, as you do have to let your vehicle run for a few minutes to warm the fluids in it before you drive off. Being wise about how you warm your vehicle up can save on gas usage though. See below for more information.
- Check your tire pressure. Improperly inflated tires are a major cost of unnecessary fuel consumption. This is especially true in extreme weather such as freezing temperatures. More information is available below.
- Replace your spark plugs. Misfiring spark plugs can reduce your fuel efficiency by up to 30%. Not to mention, you’d hate to get stranded in the cold if your spark plugs ever went on you unexpectedly!
- Ensure your wheels are properly aligned. If you’re not sure if an alignment is necessary, check out our tips to help you tell. Save money on gas and tires with a correct alignment.
There are many ways you can reduce the amount of time your vehicle needs to idle in order to warm up.
- Park in the warmest place you have available such as underground parking, a garage or any other shelter. This will reduce the amount of fuel required to warm your vehicle’s fluids and interior.
- Bundle up. Your manufacturer only recommends warming up your engine for 30 seconds before gently driving off. Your vehicle will actually warm fastest as it’s being driven. Most of the idling time is usually spent warming the cabin for the passengers so if you bundle up effectively, you can reduce the time needed and fuel consumed.
- Use your tools. Turn on defrost tools right away to ensure adequate visibility without waiting for the general heat to take care of it. Your vehicle typically comes with windshield, side mirror and rear defrost tools.
- For plug-in hybrid vehicles, preheating the cabin while plugged into the charger can extend the vehicle’s range. The battery power can also reduce your fuel economy all year round. Learn more about Ford hybrid options and why they may be right for you.
Reduce the Number Of Trips You Take
Plan your trips to get as much done as possible without letting your vehicle get cold again. This reduces the number of times your engine has to cold start and the time spent idling while the vehicle warms. Consider running all of your errands in one time period so you have to make fewer trips.
Tires, Tires, Tires
Using proper winter tires can help to improve your fuel economy in the winter, not to mention your overall safety.
Your tire pressure is also a big factor in saving gas in the winter because your tires will deflate in cold weather. For every 10 degrees the temp drops, your tires will lose an average of 1-2 PSI (pounds per square inch) of pressure. For each tire that is underinflated by 10 psi, your fuel economy is reduced by 3.3%, so 4 underinflated tires means you’re wasting almost 15% of your gas. Check your tire pressure once a month and adjust as needed to ensure you’re getting the best fuel economy possible.
Proper Fall Maintenance
You can get started on improving your winter fuel economy long before the cold weather hits. In the fall, start preparing your vehicle for the winter with our Fall Maintenance Checklist. Many of these maintenance tips will also improve your mileage.
Many of the tips that help you to improve fuel mileage will also help your vehicle to last longer and make winter driving safer. You save money on gas, tires, parts and avoid dangerous situations and the costs associated with towing or repairing your vehicle as well. The better you are to your vehicle, the less it will cost you, the longer it will last and the better it will protect you in the event of an accident.