Ease chill of winter on mpg
Cold weather can reduce your fuel economy drastically, but there are ways to mitigate the impact.
A cold engine, driveline and battery pack have more friction, use more fuel and reduce the efficiency of hybrids' regenerative braking, said Brian West, a development engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
West compared fuel consumption on the 20-degree F and 75-degree F cycles of the test the Environmental Protection Agency uses for fuel economy ratings.
The fuel economy of conventional gasoline vehicles fell 12 percent to 22 percent, with the biggest decrease on short trips of 3 to 4 miles. Hybrids fell 31 percent to 34 percent.
“The majority of the hit is from more viscous fluids before the drivetrain warms to its optimum temperature,” West said. “The hit on hybrid fuel economy is more severe because cold batteries are less efficient recapturing energy from braking.
“The impact is greater for both types of vehicles on shorter trips” that don't give fluids and batteries time to reach operating temperature.
Some cold weather tips from FuelEconomy.gov:
• Park in the warmest available spot. An enclosed garage is best.
• Combine several errands into one trip so the drivetrain can warm up.
• Don't use seat heaters and defrosters longer than necessary.
• Don't let your car sit idling to warm up. The most efficient technique is running the engine for 30 seconds, then driving off gently. The engine warms faster while being driven.
• Plug-in hybrids benefit from preheating while still plugged in, before driving.
• Plug-in hybrids are more efficient if you use the seat and steering wheel heaters more than heated air. It's fine to keep them running all the time in a plug-in.
• Keep your tires properly inflated.
Tires vs. potholes
This winter's been rough on tires and wheels.
Conditions will likely get worse, said Chris Lynch, owner of Wetmore's Tire and Auto Repair in Ferndale, Mich. Spring thaws are likely to undermine weakened roads and open new potholes.
Bent wheels are more common than blown tires, but there are plenty of both this year.
Catastrophic blowouts are easy to recognize, but many drivers have tire damage they never realize was caused by a pothole, said Matt Edmonds, vice president of online retailer the Tire Rack.
The tire's inner liner — the part that holds the air — gets pinched between the road and the wheel when a car hits a pothole. That tears the lining, creating a leak that causes a blister on the sidewall of the tire. You might never notice the blister because it shows up only when the tire is hot from driving and the air inside expands. Just to make it tougher, many blisters are hidden from view on the tire's inner sidewall.
“A torn inner liner is not repairable,” Edmonds said. “It can lead to tire failure months later when the tire gets hot in the summer.”
He recommends monitoring tire pressure to see whether there's a slow leak, then having a tire shop check for damage, including the easy-to-overlook damaged liner.
Mark Phelan is the Detroit Free Press auto critic. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- How to avoid Amazon and still get deals
- Strengthening U.S. growth reflects help from Federal Reserve
- Sweet tooth will cost you more next year
- Mylan’s 3Q profit triples on strong U.S. sales
- Profit falls at vitamin retailer GNC Holdings in third quarter
- Radiation detection of drilling waste nearly set at W.Va. landfills
- Hedge funds sue to block EDMC deal
- Kennametal profit, sales improve in 1Q, but forecast reduced
- Bayer profit edges higher, raises forecasts
- Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘I’m proud to be gay’
- Health care law compliance complex for employers