Looking through windshield at cars on road during winter

Most common reasons that vehicle fuel economy worsens during winter

We’re no strangers to cold and snow here in Vermont, as our place in the Northeast United States brings plenty of precipitation and frigid temperatures when the calendar begins to shift into winter. A common side effect of this is seeing your car’s gas mileage get worse and worse as the temperature drops, and today we want to investigate why.  

FuelEconomy.gov states that a normal gas-powered vehicle can see its efficiency drop by up to 12 percent once it gets down below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and there are many factors that come into play as to why. Today, our Poulin Auto Sales service department will show you the most common reasons that vehicle fuel economy worsens during winter, as well as some steps you can take to mitigate them! 

Check out our inventory of winter-ready SUVs here!

Group of cars driving on road during snowstorm

Denser, Colder Air Increases Resistance 

Once the air temperature drops, the molecules that they consist of contract and move tighter towards one another, creating more resistance against your vehicle as it drives, especially at high speeds. This is also why tires lose air much more quickly in cold weather.  

Vehicles Work Harder to Warm Up 

Using your vehicle’s heater and defroster takes a lot of energy from its engine and battery, the former of which is powered by gasoline. With more resources devoted to getting your car in proper working order, less fuel can be used to keep you driving efficiently.  

Bad Road Conditions Take More Effort to Handle 

On slippery and icy roads, you’ve probably found yourself having to rev your engine more to keep traction and control. This, naturally, can lead to a decrease in economy as well, as more of your engine’s energy is spent keeping you safe around hazardous conditions.


Read More: What are the best ways to drive in the snow in Vermont?

How to keep your car’s gas mileage protected in winter 

The best advice we can give for winter driving is to keep your car stored in a warm place (such as a garage) when you’re not using it, so it doesn’t take as much power to heat up once it’s on. Also, try to consolidate all your trips that you need to take into one – most vehicles can’t perform as well during cold months because they aren’t able to heat up all the way on shorter journeys.  

If you’re planning on keeping your car in storage during winter, we’ve created a checklist guide to help you out!