Keeping you on the road
As if driving in the dark, the rain and the snow didn’t make winter motoring hard enough, you may also notice another downside to the season. Winter driving causes a significant drop in your fuel economy. In the coldest climes, drivers can see a difference of as much as 20% between the warm summer days and the coldest days of winter.
But why does your car use more fuel in the cold weather? And is there anything you can do about it?
It’s unlikely that Star Trek’s engineer Mr Scott ever had problems with cold weather, but he would certainly have understood the physics behind poor winter fuel economy. The problem is that all substances become denser as they get colder, and this affects your fuel economy in several different ways:
Another drain on fuel economy is the winter electrical load. Heaters, lights, heated screens and screen washers are all frequently used to keep us safe and comfortable in the winter months. Unfortunately, none of this comes for free, and the bigger the demands on your vehicle electrics, the lower your fuel economy will be.
Energy is wasted warming up your car and clearing windows with heaters and blowers before you set off, making things worse from a fuel point of view. A stationary car with a running engine delivers the worst fuel economy possible!
Of course, being stationary isn’t always your fault, and with more accidents in winter conditions, you are much more likely to encounter stationary or crawling traffic.
You may not be able change the laws of physics, but you can do a lot to stop them pushing up your fuel bills: