Here Are Some Ways Cold Weather Can Effect Car Performance

February 9th, 2023 by

Whether you love or hate winter weather, there’s no denying that colder temperatures and wintry precipitation can have an effect on your vehicle. From low tire pressure to reduced gas mileage to a dead battery, there are various ways the cold weather in Ohio can cause problems for your car. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure your vehicle runs smoothly all season long. Keep reading to learn about six ways cold weather can affect your car’s performance and what you can do to prevent each problem.

Call Us

Reduced Fuel Economy

how cold weather effects your car

On those wintry days when the temps drop below freezing in Hamilton, Ohio, you may notice your car gets lower gas mileage than normal. That’s because conventional gas cars experience an average 15% drop in fuel economy when it’s colder than 20 degrees outside, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. When making short trips between three to four miles, a car’s fuel economy can drop by 24% or more in colder temperatures.

If you drive a hybrid vehicle, the difference in efficiency during cold spells may be even more drastic. According to the federal agency, a hybrid’s gas mileage can drop 30% to 34% in temperatures under 20 degrees. A number of factors — from heating up your car before you start driving to using the window defroster — can all contribute to this reduced fuel economy. When driving on snowy or icy Ohio roads, you may get even worse gas mileage, especially when you’re traveling slowly or using all-wheel drive.

While reduced fuel economy may be unavoidable in some cases, there are actions you can take to improve your gas mileage during the winter months. If you can, park in a garage or other sheltered area and try not to run your car for too long before driving. Once you’ve warmed up, turn off the heated seats to maximize efficiency. Make fewer trips in the cold so you’re not driving short distances as often, and during severe winter weather, stay home when you can to avoid driving on icy or snow-packed roads.

Decreased EV Performance

It’s not just gas and hybrid vehicles that can experience problems during a frigid Ohio cold spell. Electric vehicles (EVs) can also have decreased performance in winter weather. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an EV may have as much as a 41% drop in range as the car expends more energy to heat the inside of the cabin. The cold can also cause the electric battery to become sluggish, meaning it takes more time to accelerate.

If you drive an EV, be proactive during winter weather to ensure you can get from Point A to Point B safely. Leave your car plugged in while warming it up before driving and try turning on the heated seats to keep you warm instead of using the heater.

Underinflated Tires

If you’ve ever wondered whether your car tires look underinflated during the winter months, it’s probably not your imagination. Underinflation can occur when the air in the tires gets colder, causing the pressure to decrease. Underinflated tires can cause several problems for your vehicle, ranging from decreased traction on slippery roads to lower gas mileage.

In the winter, it’s important to check the pressure on your tires frequently to make sure they’re within the recommended pressure levels. Set a reminder to check your tires regularly so you don’t forget. You can also use winter tires specifically designed for colder temperatures and inclement weather during the winter months. Contact our Service Department at Performance Honda for more information about purchasing winter tires in Fairfield, Ohio.

Drained Battery

It’s a dreaded fear: After bundling up in your winter coat, scarf, and boots, you trudge out to your car at the end of a workday, only to find that it won’t start. When the temperatures drop below freezing, the cold can drain your car battery, especially if you’re driving an older vehicle.

In the late fall or early winter, bring your vehicle in to a service center to have the battery checked. This way, you can fix a weak battery before it becomes a problem in the colder months. If you’re worried about the possibility of an especially brutal winter, you can also purchase a battery warmer for some additional peace of mind.

Thick Fluids

The fluids in your car likely won’t freeze during an Ohio winter, but they may get thicker. In particular, motor oil, transmission fluid, and antifreeze can all change consistency when the temperatures drop. As this fluid gets thicker, it moves slower, potentially resulting in decreased performance and — in a worst-case scenario — costly engine problems.

During the winter months, make sure you don’t skip an oil change. Check your owner’s manual if you’re unsure about the recommended oil change interval for your vehicle. It may also be helpful to use a low-viscosity oil, which is designed to work in lower temperatures.

Icy Fuel Lines

Similar to vehicle fluids, the gas in your car won’t freeze during a typical Fairfield cold spell, but moisture in the fuel lines may become icy. In colder temps, any water in the fuel tank can freeze, resulting in clogged fuel intake. In colder months, the Car Care Council recommends keeping your gas tank at least half full to prevent icy fuel lines. Topping off more frequently can ensure you don’t run out of gas and become stranded in the middle of an Ohio snowstorm.

Get Your Car Winter-Ready in Fairfield, Ohio

When it comes to winter in Ohio, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you’re worried about your car battery, tires, or fluid levels, bring your vehicle to Performance Honda in Fairfield, Ohio. We’ll check everything over to make sure you’re prepared for the next snowstorm. If you suspect the recent cold weather may have affected your car’s performance, we can check that out, too. We’ll perform a full inspection to determine the cause of the problem and work with you to find the best possible solution. Schedule a service appointment online or call our service center at (513) 829-6900 for more information.


Image Credit: Framed Side Mirror Beside Snow Covered Field by Thomas H. is licensed with Pexels License

Posted in Maintenance