Wintertime Means Lower Gas Mileage Wintertime Means Lower Gas Mileage

By Kayla Miller SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — The winter months can bring multiple problems to your vehicle. You have  to drive slower during those snowy days, warm up and defrost your car, and worry about your tires. The one issue not discussed often is your gas mileage.

Gas mileage in the wintertime is significantly lower compared to mileage in the spring and summer months. According to FuelEconomy.gov, an average car’s mileage is about 12% lower at 20°F than it would be at 77°F.  There are multiple reasons why your mileage is lower in the winter, but one of the main factors deals with the amount of ethanol that gas companies use in the winter compared to the summer.

Tony Masello is an auto-mechanic and owner of Masello’s Auto Service. He explains how gas companies strategically use ethanol throughout the year.

“As the colder temperatures roll in, the gas companies will increase the ethanol, and ethanol does lower your gas mileage a little bit. Cars in the summer don’t run well with higher amounts of ethanol,” Masello said.

While ethanol can be a big factor, cold weather can affect your vehicle in many ways. Your tire pressure can decrease and increase the rolling resistance against a snowy highway. Heating your seats and defrosting the car uses more power meaning more gas. Overall, in the winter it takes longer for your engine to heat up and reach its fuel-efficient temperature.

Tiarra Moore drives to and from work every day. She spends more money on gas in the winter due to harsh weather conditions. Now as an owner of new vehicle, she is worried about her tires. “I used to slide a lot so the traction used a lot of gas,” Moore said.

To save fuel and money, here are some tips to have better gas mileage this winter:

  • Park your car in a warmer place like the garage
  • Minimize idling the car to burn less fuel
  • Check your tire pressure regularly
  • Don’t use seat warmers too often

To find more information on how to improve your gas mileage, go to FuelEconomy.gov.

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