Cold weather hurts your gas mileage, too - News, Weather & Sports

Cold weather hurts your gas mileage, too


It's no fun driving around in ice and snow. It turns out, all this cold air is also bad for gas mileage. Thicker air and freezing temperatures actually force your car's engine to work harder.

So idling your engine to get the heater blowing warm air before you start your morning commute isn't a good thing if you're trying to save money on gasoline. Most cars these days just need 30-seconds to warm-up the engine before it's safe to drive away. Some experts argue that leaving all of our cars out idling on winter mornings sends millions of tons of carbon dioxide  into the atmosphere, too, and contributes to climate change.

Your tire pressure is affected by the temperature change, as well. For every 10° drop in the temperature, you lose about 1% of your tire pressure. Sagging tires keep your car from running smoothly down the highway, making your gas mileage suffer.

Here's an interesting note, too: Cold air is thicker so it takes more effort to move your car through it. More effort equals more gasoline that your engine needs. For every 10° drop in temperature, there's a 2% increase in aerodynamic drag.


Thanks to Charlotte meteorologist Brad Panovich and Scientific American for this information.

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