Why is my car’s fuel economy lower in the winter?

By Product Expert | Posted in FAQs on Tuesday, December 4th, 2018 at 8:00 am
Rear tires of vehicle driving through snow in winter

Most common reasons that fuel efficiency gets worse in cold weather

If your new or used vehicle is outfitted with a “Fuel Range” gauge, you might have noticed that the number that it displays often gets lower much quicker than usual when the temperature begins to drop. Why is that? Why does it seem like your model’s fuel economy suffers when we move into winter? There are actually scientific explanations for the inconveniences that this situation can lead to; come with Carville’s Auto Mart today as we show you the most common reasons that fuel efficiency gets worse in cold weather. With this, you can be more prepared for the chilly conditions that are ahead.


More Winter Tips: What to do when your vehicle is stuck in snowy conditions


Handwritten "Cold!" in vehicle window

It’s Harder to Start and Maintain Vehicle Temperature

It should go without saying, but the main reason you see fuel economy diminish in winter climates is because more of your vehicle’s engine power has to be devoted to achieving an efficient temperature. Due to the amount of energy that is spent doing this, as well as how hard your model has to work to activate your heaters and defrosters, much less fuel capacity can be applied to your actual drive itself.

Happy man wearing Santa hat waving outside of car window with snow and sun peeking through trees in background

Cold Air is Denser (and Increases Drag While Driving)

In addition to the mechanical challenges that are faced when you drive in the cold, the air itself can hinder your performance. When air gets cooler, it’s denser, which means that your vehicle has much more drag to deal with when you’re on the road. Cold air can also hurt your tire pressure, battery capacity, and many other essential components, which means that the best thing you can do to prevent trouble is to store your vehicle in as warm a place as possible throughout the cold.


Even More Winter Tips: How do I unfreeze my car windows in cold weather?