Winter Fuel Efficiency

Adopting effective driving practices increases fuel efficiency at any time of year, but it’s even more important during the winter months.  Your car’s fuel efficiency can decrease by as much as 50 percent in cold weather. Wasting fuel not only impacts your pocketbook, it can pollute the environment as well.

Losing Weight

While carrying a few extra pounds in the back of your car or truck might help you gain traction in snowy weather, the added cargo also reduces winter fuel efficiency. Removing weight can increase your vehicle’s gas mileage.  It can also help to remove snow and ice from the outside of your car before driving.  You can remove unnecessary weight and eliminate excessive use of  the defroster.


Become a “follower” while driving, and you’ll increase gas mileage. Even a light dusting of snow creates resistance, and your vehicle must work harder to drive through it. If possible, wait until after the roads have been plowed, or drive in the tire tracks that other cars have created.

Head for Cover

Parking your car in a garage during winter months keeps keeps it warmer while it’s not in use.  This can allow the engine to rise  to the optimal temperature more quickly. Running your car for 30 seconds sufficiently warms the engine enough to drive, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; anything beyond that simply wastes fuel. Allow the rest of your vehicle to warm up by driving it. Proceed slowly for the first three miles; your entire car will reach peak temperature without wasting fuel.

Idle Conversation

It’s tempting to leave the car — and the heat — running when it’s cold outside.  However, if you think you’ll be sitting still for longer than 10 seconds, turn the car off instead of idling. Your car consumes more gas running for 10 seconds than it does when you turn it off and restart the engine. Cutting down idling time is a simple way to save extra fuel during winter, while also being easier on your car’s engine.

Plan Ahead

Maximize mileage by planning ahead before driving. Try to schedule errands together to avoid making several short trips, and use the most efficient route. Unless you expect to stay at one of your stops for an extended period of time, your vehicle’s engine will stay warm enough for you to restart it and head to your next destination without interruption.