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Driving economically in the winter

Published date: 13 December 2012 |
Published by: Reporter
Read more articles by Reporter


Cold weather conditions aren’t just difficult to drive in – they can also seriously reduce your fuel economy, leading to higher running costs and more frequent fuel stops. The main reason for this is that your car has to work that much harder during the winter months. While you can’t completely nullify the negative effects on your fuel consumption in cold weather, there are plenty of things that you can do to improve matters. Here, we take a look at the most common causes of high winter fuel consumption, and what you can do about them.

Poor battery and alternator performance
 
Batteries and alternators have to work much harder to maintain a steady charge during the winter months, which is why you should get your battery checked over before winter begins and replace it if it has seen better days. Most car dealerships offer free battery checks, so all being well it won’t cost you a penny.
 
Extra weight
 
Adding weight to your car can help to improve traction in snowy conditions, and this is why many people put sandbags in their car when it is slippery underfoot. Naturally, this adds to the fuel consumption, so you should be sure to remove them when conditions are good. Also, if you have a layer of hard snow on your vehicle, taking the time to scrape it off before you set out can help to bring the weight down.
 
Low tyre pressure
 
Cold weather causes the air pressure in tyres to drop by about one pound per square foot for every five degrees Celsius. Fuel economy will be affected if your tyres are below the recommended level by three lbs, and this is particularly noticeable at pressures of 10 lbs or more below the optimal level. Taking the time to check your tyre pressure on a regular basis, which can be done for free at most petrol stations, can help to improve winter fuel efficiency.
 
Too much idling
 
Many drivers let their car idle for longer in cold weather in order to warm them up and help them to clean frost off the windows. However, this is not always necessary, as ice can be scraped off without using the window heater, and most new vehicles are perfectly capable of setting off in cold conditions without needing to be warmed up first.
 
Traffic jams
 
Getting stuck in a traffic jam can seriously increase the fuel consumption of a petrol or diesel vehicle, as it means that a lot of fuel will be consumed by idling or getting the car moving. It isn’t so much of an issue for drivers of electric or hybrid vehicles that have regenerative brakes, as these tend to perform well in terms of fuel efficiency when driving in heavy traffic, but it is still a bit of a pain. Make sure you check the traffic report before you head out, as being able to avoid a jam could save you a fair bit of time and money.
 

This information was provided to you by Allianz Your Cover (www.yourcoverinsurance.co.uk).

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