Winter Fuel Economy: What You Need to Know if You're Interested in Becoming a Mechanic

automotive mechanic courses
Cold weather, snow, and ice can make driving difficult. In addition, you may be surprised to learn that winter weather can even affect how much fuel a car uses. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the mileage of a typical gasoline-powered car may be about 12% lower in cold-weather conditions (below -6°C) than it would be in warmer temperatures.
Although fighting winter weather may feel like an uphill battle, there actually a few things you can do to reduce its effects on a car’s fuel economy. If you’re thinking of joining the automotive industry, read on to find out what you should know, and how you can help clients—and their fuel tanks—better prepare for winter weather.

Why Does Cold Weather Have Such an Effect on Fuel Consumption?

A car relies on a variety of fluids to function, and, unfortunately, these fluids have little by way of protection against the cold. When temperatures drop, engine oil or other driveline fluids may be slower to respond, and a vehicle has to use more energy to raise the temperature of these fluids to running order.
If you’re interested in becoming a mechanic, you should know that winter weather also has other effects that extend beyond this. Winter air is typically colder and drier, which makes it denser than warm or humid summer air. This increases wind resistance, which makes a car less aerodynamic; although this may seem like it wouldn’t have a significant effect on fuel economy, Natural Resources Canada reports that it can actually cause highway fuel consumption to increase by 1.3%.

Winter driving conditions can have a negative effect on a car’s fuel efficiency
Winter driving conditions can have a negative effect on a car’s fuel efficiency

Winter weather also naturally leads to more difficult road and driving conditions. A combination of snow, ice, slush, road salt, and gravel can cause asphalt to deteriorate. Navigating less-than-smooth terrain makes the engine work harder and burn more fuel to offset an increased rolling resistance as tires push aside snow and attempt to get a better grip on slippery surfaces.

Use These Helpful Tips to Improve Fuel Economy After Becoming a Mechanic

So how exactly can you combat this winter weather problem? In some ways, unfortunately, you can’t, because there is no real foolproof way to shield a car from the full wrath of winter. There are, however, a few things you can suggest after car mechanic training to help clients improve their vehicle’s gas mileage.
Parking a car in a warm place such as a garage can help keep the initial temperature of the engine and cabin warmer than if it were left outside, which can reduce the amount of fuel it burns as it tries to start.

Regularly checking a car’s tire pressure can help clients reduce their car’s fuel use in the winter
Regularly checking a car’s tire pressure can help clients reduce their car’s fuel use in the winter

Accessories like USB ports, movie players, seat warmers, and heating can also drain a car’s fuel throughout the winter. Although a toasty cabin is more comfortable to drive in, you can recommend that clients only use these features when necessary in order to avoid constant trips to the pump. It’s also a good idea to suggest frequent tire pressure checks, as cold weather can lead to low tire pressure, which can prematurely reduce the life of the tires, as well as make the car work harder to get a more even grip on the road.
Do you want to start a rewarding career in the automotive field?
Contact CATI for more information about our automotive mechanic courses.

Form is submitting