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  • Robert Brownlie

Why do cars use more fuel in winter?

Robert of RWB Autotec Ltd shares the reason why cars use more fuel in winter.


Why do cars use more fuel in winter?

The cold weather can affect all sorts of components on your car, none of them majorly significant but all together make a notable reduction in fuel efficiency of your vehicle.


This is a list of some of the effects cold weather can have on your car and its fuel economy.

On cold days, it takes much longer for your engine to reach its optimum operating temperature. This is a particularly big problem for short trips, as the car will spend most of the journey operating at a less-than-optimal temperature, subsequently leading to poor fuel economy.


Engine & Transmission oils take longer to reach their correct viscosity, this can lead to increased drag and friction between the moving parts in the engine and transmission systems, meaning your car will burn more fuel due to the increased effort required to reach the same destination.


Electrical components, such as fans, defrosters, wipers, headlights and heated seats, all put additional strain on the vehicles charging system, this in turn requires more effort from the engine to turn your vehicles alternator and keep your battery charged, leading to a reduction in fuel efficiency.


On freezing cold mornings, it’s often necessary to warm up your car to defrost the windscreen etc, this additional idling of the engine and delay in the commencement of your journey has a massive impact on fuel economy, with your car achieving zero MPG for the duration !


Also cold air is much thicker and denser than warm air, thus increasing the aerodynamic drag on your car. This means again the engine has to work harder, particularly at motorway speeds.


Tyre pressures decrease slightly in very cold temperatures, increasing the car’s rolling resistance, which again increases the effort required to propel your vehicle along the road.


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