weather can reduce your fuel economy drastically, but there are ways
to mitigate the impact.
A cold engine,
driveline and battery pack have more friction, use more fuel and
reduce the efficiency of hybrids’ regenerative braking, said Brian
West, a development engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in
fuel consumption on the 20 degree F and 75 degree F cycles of the
test the EPA uses for fuel economy ratings.
economy of conventional gasoline vehicles fell 12 percent to 22
percent, with the biggest decrease on short trips of 3-4 miles.
Hybrids fell 31 percent to 34 percent.
majority of the hit is from more viscous fluids before the
drivetrain warms to its optimum temperature," West said.
"The hit on hybrid fuel economy is more severe because cold
batteries are less efficient recapturing energy from braking.
impact is greater for both types of vehicles on shorter trips"
that don’t give fluids and batteries time to reach operating
Here are some
cold-weather tips from FuelEconomy.gov:
—Park in the
warmest available spot. An enclosed garage is best.
several errands into one trip so the drivetrain has time to warm up.
seat heaters and defrosters longer than necessary.
your car sit idling to warm up. The most efficient technique is
running the engine for 30 seconds, then driving off gently. The
engine warms up faster while being driven.
hybrids benefit from preheating while still plugged in, before you
hybrids are more efficient if you use the seat and steering wheel
heaters more than heated air. It’s fine to keep them running all
the time in a plug-in.
tires properly inflated.
POTHOLES: This winter’s been rough on tires and wheels.
will probably get worse, said Chris Lynch, owner of Wetmore’s Tire
and Auto Repair in Ferndale, Mich. Spring thaws are likely undermine
already weakened roads and open new potholes.
are more common than blown tires, but there are plenty of both this
blowouts are easy to recognize, but many drivers have tire damage
they never realize was caused by a pothole, said Matt Edmonds, vice
president of online retailer the Tire Rack.
inner liner — the part that holds the air in — gets pinched
between the road and the wheel when a car hits a pothole. That tears
the lining, creating a leak that causes a blister on the sidewall of
the tire. You might never notice the blister because it shows up
only when the tire is hot from driving and the air inside expands.
Just to make it tougher, many blisters are hidden from view on the
tire’s inner sidewall.
inner liner is not repairable," Edmonds said. "It can lead
to tire failure months later when the tire gets hot in the
summer." He recommends monitoring tire pressure to see whether
there’s a slow leak, then having a tire shop check for damage,
including the easy-to-overlook damaged liner.
lose about one pound of air a month," Edmonds said. "If
the inner liner is compromised, it’ll be greater than that."
should check their tires’ pressure at least that frequently.
Correct pressure improves your fuel economy and reduces the
likelihood the sidewalls will flatten and damage the inner liner
when you hit a pothole, said Dave Cowger, General Motors’ top tire
other option, Edmonds said: minus-sizing. Some people buy a tire and
wheel an inch or two smaller than what came on the car and get tires
with taller sidewalls.
from a 245/50/18 tire to a 235/60/17 can give you an inch more
sidewall to protect the tire," he said.
important that anyone who does that makes sure the new tires have
the same diameter as the manufacturer specified. A different tire
diameter could foul up the vehicle’s antilock brakes, stability
control, odometer and other important features.
don’t want to go that far should remember that snow tires with
cheap steel wheels improve safety and reduce the cost of a ruined
wheel. Lynch says a steel wheel can cost $40 to $70, compared with
hundreds for fancy aluminum.