Winter is coming. As temperatures drop, so does your fleet’s fuel efficiency. And as gas prices continue to rise and fluctuate throughout the winter months, it’s more important than ever to keep fuel efficiency top of mind.
Below, we discuss why fuel economy is lower during the winter months, as well as tips for fleet drivers on how to better preserve fuel in colder temperatures.
Why Is Fuel Economy Lower in Winter?
Did you know that federal law requires fuel stations to sell different fuel mixes at different times of the year? This is based on Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP), which is used to measure fuel volatility.
Because different temperatures affect how gasoline vaporizes, summer and winter gasoline blends differ. Higher summer temperatures can cause evaporation, so the mix is tweaked to decrease RPV and prevent the liquid from vaporizing. Winter blends are the opposite, as fuel must be able to evaporate properly for the engine to operate in cooler temperatures. And if the fuel’s RPV is too low, it can be more difficult to start your car in colder temperatures.
In colder weather conditions, motor oil and other fluids thicken. As the engine works to get all of its parts moving, these fluids are meant to prevent friction and protect the components of the engine. As they thicken, they increase resistance, causing the engine to work harder, which in turn burns more fuel.
Rolling resistance refers to the force that’s needed to keep a tire moving at a consistent speed. When the air pressure in your tires decreases due to colder temperatures, rolling resistance must increase, putting additional strain on your engine and burning more fuel. It’s similar to riding a bike with underinflated tires.
Increase in Idling
Warming up thick fluids or waiting for the cabin to warm up before you start a trip burns a large amount of fuel. In fact, excessive idling actually causes your miles per gallon to drop to zero.
Colder weather strains the alternator as it works to keep the battery charged. And when heated seats, defrosters and other onboard accessories are consuming power, it must work even harder. This drops the vehicle’s fuel economy as the alternator must pull more power from the engine.
5 Tips for Improving Winter Fleet Fuel Economy
Park Your Vehicle in a Warmer Place
Parking in a warmer place such as a garage increases the initial temperature of your engine and cabin – decreasing the time and fuel it takes to heat the fluids and warm up the vehicle.
Combine Trips When Possible
Route planning is crucial during winter months. Combining trips allows you to drive less often with a cold engine, preserving more fuel.
Most manufacturers recommend driving off gently after about 30 seconds. The engine will warm up faster while driven, allowing the heat to turn on sooner – decreasing your fuel costs and reducing emissions.
Refrain From Using Onboard Accessories
While comfort and visibility are both critical, use seat warmers and defrosters only when necessary.
Regularly Check Your Tire Pressure
Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer. You can improve your gas mileage by 0.6% on average by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2% for every 1 psi drop in the average pressure of all tires.
Winter Driving Safety Tips and Resources for Employees
As temperatures begin to fall and roads become ice-packed, it’s critical for drivers to be well-educated on winter driver safety best practices. We’ve created a winter driving safety bundle to help ensure your company drivers are confident and prepared behind the wheel this winter.
Visit the link below to download and explore our winter driver safety resources.