Winter Weather Fuel Economy

The Jim Shorkey Auto Group has an ample collection of vehicles with a fantastic fuel economy, including the best-in-class Mitsubishi Mirage, both the Kia Optima and the Kia Optima Hybrid, the Chrysler 200, and any Ford vehicle with Ecoboost (and even some Ford vehicles without).

And as far as we can tell, there’s only one thing that puts these fuel-efficient cars to the test: cold weather.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), fuel economy tests show that, in short-trip city driving, a conventional car’s gas mileage is about 12% lower at 20°F than it would be at 77°F. It can even drop as much as 22% for very short trips, lasting about 3 to 4 miles.

But why?

Cold engine oil and other drive-line fluids cause engine and transmission friction to increase in cold temperatures. Also, it takes longer for your engine to reach its most fuel-efficient temperature when starting from a much lower temperature. This affects shorter trips more, since your car spends more of your trip at less-than-optimal temperatures. And don’t forget—those heated seats, window defrosters, and heater fans that you LOVE use additional power. Finally, colder air is denser, increasing aerodynamic drag on your vehicle, especially at highway speeds, causing it to work harder.

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What can you do?

Park your car in a warmer place, such as your garage, to increase the initial temperature of your engine and cabin. Try carpooling or combining trips when possible so that you drive less often with a cold engine. As much as we hate to say it, don’t use seat warmers or defrosters more than necessary. Check your tire pressure regularly to ensure proper inflation. Additionally, remove accessories that increase wind resistance, like roof racks, when not in use. Finally (and maybe most harshly), minimize idling your car to warm it up. Most manufacturers recommend driving off gently after about 30 seconds. The engine will warm up faster being driven, which will allow the heat to turn on sooner, decrease your fuel costs, and reduce emissions.

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Winter Driving Tips: Protect yourself and your precious cargo

If you felt a slight breeze at the end of last week, don’t worry—it wasn’t the sign of emerging blustery weather patterns. It was simply a collective sigh of relief from Western PA residents as warmer temperatures and sunny skies returned. However, in a cruel twist of fate, the snow and cold temperatures made a dominant comeback this week with more snow in the forecast this weekend. Here are some winter-weather driving tips to keep you safe until spring.

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Make sure you and your car are properly equipped. This may sound like a no-brainer, but many people are not prepared when snow attacks. Check and refill antifreeze and windshield washer fluid often. Ensure all headlights are clear of snow and road sludge and are fully functioning. Test your vehicle’s battery at a reputable Service Center. Equip your vehicle with a flashlight and extra batteries, first-aid kit, warm clothes, and blanket. Remember to keep a pair of sunglasses in your vehicle, as glare from the snow and ice can be intense—just as much or more so than in the summer. Finally, pack your cell phone and make sure it’s fully charged!

Drive at a smooth, comfortable speed, even if it means slowing down. Driving too quickly is the main cause of accidents in winter conditions. Regardless of your vehicle, how you drive can prevent accidents. Avoid abrupt acceleration or braking and unnecessary lane changes; these maneuvers can cause your vehicle to lose traction and can launch you into a dangerous, uncontrollable skid. Additionally, four-wheel-drive may help your vehicle get going in the slushy stuff, but it’s of no use when you’re trying to steer or safely stop on a slippery road surface. Simply be patient and accept the fact that it’s going to take longer to arrive at your destination.

Fill up your gas tank. In the summer, you can take a chance and run down to fumes. But in the winter, if you do get stuck or stranded, the engine will be your only source of heat.

Do not tailgate. Tailgating often leads to accidents, especially if driving in stop-and-go traffic. You may think the driver in front of you doing 35 mph on the freeway is going too slow and needs a reminder in the form of riding their bumper, but doing so is dangerous. Remember, it takes a much longer distance to stop your vehicle in the snow or ice due to the reduced traction, even with just a light covering on the road. Keep in mind, many serious accident injuries come from a second impact from another car after a seemingly trivial collision.

Pull over or stay home. Remember, there is no shame in making the logical decision to stay home when the conditions are bad or simply leave once conditions have cleared. You may be late arriving at your destination, but arriving late in one piece is much better than the alternative.

And if you do choose to stay home, we have some suggestions: