This year winter is different than usually: while some people believe in global warming and try to find the days when the temperature is higher than in previous years, this winter showed that it can still be severe with frost, ice and snow. Many places in northern hemisphere are covered with white blanket of snow and it seems that winter is not going to give up any time soon.
The residents of northern states in the U.S. do not have much trouble: they drive their vehicles almost as much as they used to before, but people in the south prefer to stay at home and wait till the weather gets any better. Being used to snow- and ice-free roads they do not have winter tires and do not plan to buy any because snow usually goes away as quickly as it comes. This winter is different though: snow storms keep coming for several weeks and there seems to be no end to them.
In addition to special costly winter equipment for a vehicle, people do not like driving in this season because the fuel economy goes down together with the drop of the temperature. There are some tricks to improve fuel economy even in winter if the owner knows how to handle the vehicle well.
First of all, tire pressure is important. There should be enough air to fill up the tires, but at the same time the tires should not be overinflated. According to AAA, properly inflated tires improve fuel economy by 10%. The data for correct pressure can be found in owner’s manual. It is especially important to watch the pressure in winter, because it decreases by one pound for every 10 degrees of temperature drop. Besides fuel economy, correct tire pressure reduces the risk of an accident, because it improves traction.
People do not like sitting in a cold vehicle, so they start it beforehand and wait till it warms up. Only then they get into the vehicle and go where they want to. They rarely give a thought to the fact, that idle warming up “eats” gas. Try to avoid this, because simple warming up has the poorest fuel economy: zero miles per gallon. In addition, it is important to know that modern cars are made differently that old vehicles and their engine warms up quicker if the car is driven. When the vehicle is idle, it produces very little heat, so it does not give much benefit to run it without moving. The best way is to start the engine and drive the vehicle right away, but use acceleration slowly: this way the engine warms up quickly and the heater starts blowing air sooner, while there is no fuel wasted.
Having healthy cooling system is also important in winter. The perfect mixture is 50% coolant, also called antifreeze and 50% water: pure water would not do the necessary job to cool off the engine; and 100% antifreeze makes it harder for the engine to stay cool. The improper mixture reduces fuel efficiency and damages the engine over certain period of time.
The system should be regularly checked for leaks. If the coolant gets low, the car might overheat even if outside temperature is low. The condition of the coolant is also important: it gets dirty and does not work as well as it should. Vehicle owner’s manual usually gives the schedule on the times when the coolant should be replaced. The types of coolants might vary, but for the sake of fuel economy and the healthy work of the engine the owner should use the type mentioned in the manual.
Regular check-up of overall mechanical condition of the vehicle is the final stage in the improvement of the fuel efficiency of a vehicle. Mechanics in any auto shop could check the work of all parts, look for leaks and other problems. As long as the car works well and all the fluids are clean, the fuel economy will be at the highest level.