Doing a double take at the pumps lately? Rising gas prices are weighing on wallets, leaving many people pinching pennies to fill up the tank. The dread only gets worse with cooler days ahead. Did you know that the colder it gets, the more fuel your vehicle uses? A drop in temperature from 75 to 44 degrees can increase fuel consumption by 12 to 28 percent. Cold air is denser, increasing drag on your car. Wind speed is also higher in the winter, increasing aerodynamic resistance and fuel consumption. While fuel prices (and the weather) may be beyond our control, following these tips may help you save money on gas this winter. Read on.
1) Don’t warm-up your engine.
Cars today are designed to start and go, with no need to warm-up the engine. Gently drive away after idling up to 30 seconds. The engine will actually warm up faster being driven, heating your car faster, and reducing fuel and emissions. Bundle up before getting in the car to keep warm. For kids in car seats who can’t wear heavy winter coats, bring some blankets to lay on top of them.
2) Head to the pump on the cheapest days.
GasBuddy reveals that gas prices tend to be lowest on Mondays in most states. Thursdays are the most expensive days to top of your tank. Planning a stop at a gas station on one of your already planned Monday outings could help you save money on gas costs throughout the winter.
3) Plan your trips better.
Combining your trips to the grocery store with other errands and events rather than making multiple short trips will help you to be on the road less, which conserves energy. Planning your trip route can also help your fuel efficiency. For instance: avoid routes with traffic, congestion, and construction helps save on gas.
Fuel economy tests indicate that in-city driving gas mileage is roughly 15% lower at 20 degrees Fahrenheit than it is at 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Sometimes the longer mileage route will cost you less compared to shorter ones with more stop and go. Both acceleration and deceleration waste fuel, therefore driving at a constant speed when possible, also saves gas.
4) Keep a good distance away from the car ahead.
Messy and slippery road conditions mean more time spent on the road and your engine working harder to overcome conditions, which results in more gas being used. Poor winter road conditions alone can increase fuel consumption 7 to 35 percent.
It’s important to leave a lot of space between your car and the one in front—especially when roads are slick. Keeping one second of space for every 10 miles per hour you are going will give you room to accelerate slowly, and offer more time to brake easily.
If you are traveling 50 mph give yourself 5 seconds of distance. Tailgating is dangerous anytime but especially during icy weather, but it also requires you to brake and speed up more often, which unnecessarily burns more fuel.
5) Drive patiently.
Following the speed limit and allowing yourself to coast more will boost your fuel efficiency. Safe driving methods are also more important during winter months due to inclement road conditions. Less stop and go and avoiding the need to slam on your brakes will yield more bang for your buck at the pump. On the highway, when conditions allow, use cruise control to increase your miles per gallon.
6) Check your tire pressure.
Check your tire pressure regularly during the winter months. As temperatures drop, so do the pressure in our tires. Low tire pressure increases rolling resistance making your car less efficient, so keeping your tire properly inflated will reduce fuel consumption.
7) Use snow tires.
Many people wonder whether snow tires are needed during the winter months. While the initial fee of investing in a set of snow tires can put you out a bit, they can ultimately help you conserve fuel and increase gas mileage. Snow tire features help with road maneuverability, handling, and traction putting less workload on your engine, helping you to cut back on gas, while also adding an extra bit of security on the road. Winter tires do become less efficient in warmer months (above 44 degrees), actually making your car work harder, so once the weather warms and snow melts, be sure to switch out your snow tires, to conserve gas during the summer months.
8) Reducing weight reduces gas.
The more weight you are carrying, the more energy your engine requires. Removing any unnecessary items from your truck or external items, such as bike and roof racks, can reduce the amount of gas you use.
Reports from Fueleconomy.gov state that large roof-top cargo boxes can reduce fuel efficiency by 2 to 8 percent in city driving and 6 to 17 percent on the highway. During winter months, keeping your car clean of ice and snow also helps to reduce drag and weight. Brush or broom snow off of the entire car to increase miles per gallon.
9) Park where it’s warmer.
Parking in warmer places, like your garage or a sunny side of the street, will keep your engine and cabin warmer, improving fuel usage. Parking facing the sun in the cold will also cut down on energy spent defrosting the windshield.
10) Change your oil type and get a winter tune-up.
As weather cools, it is your cue to get your car tuned up. Ensuring your vehicle is running efficiently will ensure the best mileage. Have your mechanic check for any leaky gas caps, fluids, change your oil and check the battery and wheel alignment.
Using oil types recommended by your manufacturer for cold weather driving can also help you save money on fuel.
11) Cool it on the amenities.
Seat and steering wheel warmers are a nice touch during frigid temps, however they also draw additional power from the engine. To conserve fuel, use warmers and defrosters only when necessary.
Gas prices may be on the rise, but being a more cost-conscious driver and following our guide will ease some of the sticker shock at the pump! We hope that our tips help you save money on gas this winter. Safe travels!
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Do you have any tips to add to our list? We would love to hear from you! Comment below.
Natalie LaVolpe is a freelance writer and former special education teacher. She is dedicated to healthy living through body and mind. She currently resides on Long Island, New York, with her husband, children, and dog.