Research sees cold weather affecting fuel economy image

Well, for many of us this news bit might sound superfluous, as from our own personal experience we all know that the colder the weather, the higher change our car will return a lousy mileage.

But now it comes official from the research conducted by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory who found some car models could lose as much as one third of their fuel economy – and things get even worse as the temperature drops or the trip gets shorter.

Especially prone to losing their coveted fuel economy numbers are those who advertise them the most – battery-based vehicles, like hybrids, plug-ins and electric vehicles – who find it the hardest to get it through the winter. And that’s easily understandable – just place your smartphone outside for an hour and see how many calls will you be able to make later.

“Cold weather and winter driving conditions can reduce your fuel economy significantly,” says the Oak Ridge’s Bo Saulsbury, in a report on winter driving. “Fuel economy tests show that, in short-trip city driving, a conventional gasoline car’s gas mileage is about 12% lower at 20°F (-7°C) than it would be at 77°F (25°C).”

Still, there are steps that can be taken to improve the situation: park your car in a garage (heated is the best) and you’ll notice the difference, or make longer trips that combine several short ones, giving time to the engine and fluids to warm up. If you use a plug-in vehicle, make sure you pre-heat the cabin when parked and plugged in, so you won’t drain the battery and range on the road.