Lower Winter Gas Mileage = Higher Fuel Costs

Winter Gas Mileage, Higher Fuel Costs, Auto Fuel EconomyHave you noticed a drop in your auto fuel economy this winter? Well, you’re not alone. Drivers in cold climates often experience a higher fuel costs and lower gas mileage during the winter than drivers in warm climates. Winter gas mileage can be affected by more than just low tire pressure. Keep reading to find out why fuel economy is worse in winter and ways to improve it.


Why Lower Winter Gas Mileage?

A cold engine has to work harder to operate in bitterly cold temperatures. Fuel quality, road conditions, and frigid temperatures can all contribute to a lower mpg during the winter months. Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why.

Winter Fuel vs. Summer Fuel 

Refineries distribute different gas formulas throughout the year. For example, winter-blend gasoline evaporates more quickly in cold temperatures to help cars start when the engine is cold. Plus, it aids your vehicle’s engine, helping it run more smoothly during freezing weather. Unfortunately, winter-blend fuels contain less energy than summer-blend fuels, which reduces overall mpg.

Cold Oil = More Friction

Friction in the engine and transmission is more significant at low temperatures since cold engine oil and transmission fluids are thicker and flow less effectively. This increase in friction makes those components work harder; thus, they use more energy and gasoline.

Icy Roads = Less Traction

Slick and icy roads reduce tire traction. Excess energy is used as the wheels spin without the corresponding forward motion. This reduces your vehicle’s mpg. Additionally, if your automobile is 4WD or has on-demand All Wheel Drive, expect your fuel efficiency to decline as these features use more fuel when engaged.


It seems fairly obvious, yet most motorists don’t take idling and ‘warming up’ into account during the winter. When your car is sitting in the driveway with the motor running, you get 0 mpg. If you do this every morning for 5-15 minutes during a 5-day work week, you can waste several gallons of fuel over a month.

Ways To Improve Winter Gas Mileage

Since there’s little we can do to change the weather, let’s look at ways to improve our mpg through auto maintenance.

Maintain Correct Tire Pressure

One of the easiest ways to improve winter gas mileage is maintaining correct tire pressure. When the outside temperatures drop, the air pressure inside your tires decreases. When the tire pressure is too low, it may reduce traction, increase rolling resistance, and make steering more difficult. Keeping your tires inflated to the correct pressure will eliminate these issues and help keep your vehicle safer and more fuel-efficient.

Clean Off Snow & Ice

We have all seen cars driving around town with a mountain of snow on their roofs. All that snow and ice is heavy. Make sure to keep an ice scraper in your car at all times during the winter months to remove those heavy snowdrifts. Not only is it safer for motorists driving behind you, but it also helps to improve your mpg too.

Synthetic Oil

Traditional motor oils thicken during colder weather. Thick oil moves slower and forces your engine to work harder with more friction until it warms up the oil. Some vehicles can benefit from switching to synthetic oils or winter-weight oils during the winter. Consult your owner’s manual or your service technician to see if changing your vehicle’s motor oil for winter would help your fuel economy.

Car Battery

Your vehicle’s battery performance is less effective in cold weather, making it more difficult for the alternator to fully charge your battery. Heater fans, defrosters, seat warmers, and other wintertime accessories pull power from the battery. Get the most from your vehicle’s battery by scheduling a Battery Service to test its charge ability. Replace it with a new one once the battery can no longer be serviced or hold a full charge.

Winterize Your Vehicle… 

To Improve Winter Gas Mileage

Bring your vehicle to Cunningham’s Automotive Repair and speak with our skilled technicians about the best ways to winterize your vehicle. We would love to discuss all the ways to get better gas mileage out of your car this winter.

Make An Appointment

Visit our website or call us at (610) 847-6006 to schedule your Winterize Auto Service today!