8 Tips for Getting Better Winter MPG in a Prius
Why do MPGs go down? Cold temperatures cause gasoline to thicken. That makes it difficult for the gas to combine with the intake air and provide the proper air-fuel mixture that an internal combustion engine needs. Not only is it harder to generate the correct mix, but it’s also a little less powerful when the gas is cold. That means you end up using more gas to do less work. Cold weather also can affect the battery negatively resulting in mpg loss. Here are some simple tips to combat MPG loss in colder climates:
Better heat management. Stop using auto mode on the HVAC system. Don’t put the heat and fan on HIGH if you can avoid it. Scrape all ice off the windshields, the less you use your defrost the better the mileage will be. Only using front windshield defroster and rear windshield defroster sparingly and when necessary. Window defoggers can put a significant drain on the car’s electrical system.
Clear all the snow and ice off the vehicle. ANY extra snow and ice add extra weight. Extra weight means fewer miles per gallon — not to mention some pretty severe safety issues, too. Extra snow and ice also affects wind resistance, and thus fuel efficiency.
Don’t warm it up. Rather than warm up the car for a few minutes before driving it – if the windshields are clear and driving conditions permit – immediately start your trip and drive once you start up the Prius – however, do not push the Prius beyond the HSI eco mode during the first 3 to 6 minutes – allow the Prius to gently warm up while driving for the first 6 minutes.
Don’t carry extra weight. Keep your Prius trunk empty (keep your payload as light as possible especially over the rear tires). The heavier the vehicle, the more your mileage drops.
Park your car to get the maximum sunlight exposure during the winter with your front windshield facing east in the mornings and south in the afternoons – this maximizes the suns warming up your windshield so you don’t have to put on the defroster.
Combine all trips as much as possible, with the longest one first and the shortest one last.
Engine blocking is perhaps the most significant, and drastic, way to improve winter mileage. Engine blocking is merely blocking the lower grill on the car. A local hardware store should have round black foam insulation (pipe insulation). The smaller sized stuff (1/2″? or 3/8″). Cut some lengths that would fit across the lower grill and wedged it in there. There are some plastic bars that run perpendicular (up and down) to the grill; cut little “slits” into the piping so that the slits will line up and fit in with the vertical slats.
There are my tips for getting better gas mileage in a Prius! Contact me, Laura, with any questions or suggestions.
By Laura Madison