Weather conditions and Eco-Driving

Winter Driving

  • If you have one, clean out your garage so you can park your car inside during the cold months of the year. Parked in the garage, the car will be warmer which means the engine will warm up quicker delivering faster fuel economy.
  • Avoid heater use until the engine has reached operating temperature. Engines runs rich until a minimum temperature threshold is reached. Running the heater blower before the engine is warm will slightly increase warm-up time and increase fuel consumption.
  • Also don't idle your engine to warm it on a cold day. An idling engine gets zero miles per gallon.
  • Start to drive - under light loads - as soon as the engine is running smoothly (usually immediately). It's a more efficient way to warm the engine and get heat into the tires at the same time.

Snow and Ice

  • Driving through fresh snow increases rolling resistance moderately to dramatically, depending on the depth and type of snow. Better fuel economy will result when you wait for other vehicles to pack the snow down before setting out.
  • If you drive in ice or snow, avoid wheel spin when traction is low. Wheel spin is especially inefficient if your vehicle is equipped with brake assisted traction control. Changing to dedicated snow tires that offer better traction can save fuel.
  • Follow the leader in rain or snow at a safe distance. In weather conditions that leave a lot of precipitation on the road - heavy rain or snow - drive in the tire tracks of the vehicle in front to reduce rolling resistance. An exception to this tip may be on "rutted" surfaces where water tends to pool in the ruts. In that case, driving on the ridges between the ruts offers less resistance.
  • Completely clear snow and ice off your vehicle before driving, a layer of ice and snow can weigh a surprising amount. Snow or Ice on your vehicles roof and windows represent a hazard to you and other road users which can result in a fine and penalty points on your licence.  

Summer Driving

  • Air conditioning uses a lot of fuel, if you have to use the air conditioner, set the air flow to recirculate and manually turn the air conditioning on and off as needed. For greater efficiency, switch it on when under light engine loads or deceleration and switch it off again when under moderate or heavy loads. (Note: some newer vehicles do this automatically.)
  • Parking in the shade will keep the inside of your vehicle cooler, which can help you minimize use of air conditioning.
  • Use a beaded seat cover. They work surprisingly well as an alternative to (or defer the use of) air conditioning, by letting air flow behind and beneath you. They keep you from sticking to your seat, and your clothes from sticking to you.
  • Driving at city speeds, you'll save fuel by using your flow through vents and opening windows. At motorway speeds, whether the air conditioning is more or less efficient than opening windows will depend on the speed, your vehicle's aerodynamics and the air conditioning design.
  • Trip timing: avoid the hottest times of day to reduce air conditioning use. If you live where the weather is very hot, avoid driving if possible during the peak temperatures of the day when use of the air conditioner is "required."
  • If you regularly commute to work in hot weather, you might find that saving the stuffy "work clothes" for work, and slipping into something cooler and more comfortable (shorts and tee-shirt) for the drive may mean you can run the air conditioner a little less.

Read further in this series - Tips and Advice on Eco-Driving