How Alaska Weather Affects Your Gas Mileage And What To Do

Alaska weather is notoriously cold and that can have an effect on your car and your gas mileage. Whether you are a tourist visiting Alaska or you live here year-round, it is important to know how the cold Alaskan weather affects your gas mileage and what you can do about it. 

Let Your Vehicle Heat Up 

During short-distance city trips, conventional and hybrid gasoline vehicles lose about 12 percent to 22 percent of fuel economy. When it is colder, the engine will work harder consuming more gas. Allowing a vehicle to run for an amount of time to “heat up” allows it to get to the ideal operating temperature.  

Plug Your Vehicle In (Block Heater) 

Most vehicles are fine up until -15 degrees Fahrenheit; once it gets colder, it’s best advised to plug in your block heater. These devices plug into an electrical outlet and warm the engine coolant, which then preheats your engine block. As the oil is warmed, it flows more smoothly and eliminates the resistance that cold engines have to overcome. This makes it easier for your vehicle to start and improves its overall performance and fuel efficiency. 

A pre-heated car uses up to 15% less fuel than a car that doesn’t have one, which can save you money on your annual fuel bill. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which can be a big plus for the environment. If you do choose to use a block heater, be sure to only plug it in when necessary. Leaving your vehicle plugged in for a long period of time can be harmful to the vehicle and will cost you more in the long run. 

Cold Air Affects Tires 

Mechanics know that the air inside car tires contracts during cold weather, lowering your tire pressure by about 1 pound per square inch (PSI) for every 10-degree Fahrenheit drop in temperature. The lower PSI can cause a lot of problems, including reduced fuel efficiency and increased wear and tear on your tires. It also increases the risk of flats, blowouts, and accidents. 

When tires are underinflated, they have a wider contact patch and lose air pressure much more quickly than tires that are properly inflated. This results in reduced fuel economy, uneven tire wear, and less grip on the road. Keeping your tires inflated to the proper PSI will also ensure your vehicle is more durable and performs better. Using the PSI recommendations in your owner’s manual and the sticker located on your driver’s door jamb will help you determine what the right amount of pressure is for your tires.