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MPG decrease in very cold weather?? #5319191 01/10/20 10:34 PM
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2009Caraman Offline OP
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I'm kinda new to driving and was wondering what kind of penalty I can expect in extremely cold weather(-20c sustained)? Drives are typically 15mins or less.

I replaced my lower intake manifold gasket and though performance has returned fuel economy has slightly dropped. It's only been a 1/2 tank though and since i did the repair it's been at least -15c every day. I'd like to hear your thoughts or observations on mileage in the cold.

Re: MPG decrease in very cold weather?? [Re: 2009Caraman] #5319192 01/10/20 10:37 PM
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It can drop in half

Depends on how cold and how short your trip

Re: MPG decrease in very cold weather?? [Re: 2009Caraman] #5319193 01/10/20 10:39 PM
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Well how long is it going to take for that engine to warm up and that engine idle to drop below 1800 RPM?


2004 Corolla 138348
Out: Havoline Pro DS 10w-30 Purolator PureOne 10-29-19 136457
In: Pennzoil Platinum HM 5W-20 ST 4386
2006 Duramax 77060
Out: T6 5W-40 XG9100 73909
In: Rotella Dino PH9100 11-3-19
Re: MPG decrease in very cold weather?? [Re: JohnnyJohnson] #5319195 01/10/20 10:45 PM
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2009Caraman Offline OP
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Originally Posted by JohnnyJohnson
Well how long is it going to take for that engine to warm up and that engine idle to drop below 1800 RPM?


It idles at 800rpm at startup then falls to 700 in about 5 mins and gets to temp by the time I get to work 15mins.

Re: MPG decrease in very cold weather?? [Re: 2009Caraman] #5319219 01/10/20 11:31 PM
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Cold air is more dense also. That means more wind resistance when driving through it. Slight, but it's there.


"He who is without oil, shall throw the first rod." - Compressions 9:1
Re: MPG decrease in very cold weather?? [Re: 2009Caraman] #5319220 01/10/20 11:35 PM
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How much are you idling? I can ssy my mpg went from 17-18 to 14-15 in winter. All short trips. Granted I am am idling alot more whereas i dont ever idle in spring, summer, or fall...


2007 Corolla Red Pearl 155k miles
PP 0w20 & ST 4967
2015 Toyota Venza Parisian Blue Pearl 25k miles
TGMO 0W20 & OEM filter

Re: MPG decrease in very cold weather?? [Re: 2009Caraman] #5319223 01/10/20 11:55 PM
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The winter blend fuel costs a little MPG's as well.

Re: MPG decrease in very cold weather?? [Re: 2009Caraman] #5319238 01/11/20 12:34 AM
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edyvw Offline
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Originally Posted by 2009Caraman
I'm kinda new to driving and was wondering what kind of penalty I can expect in extremely cold weather(-20c sustained)? Drives are typically 15mins or less.

I replaced my lower intake manifold gasket and though performance has returned fuel economy has slightly dropped. It's only been a 1/2 tank though and since i did the repair it's been at least -15c every day. I'd like to hear your thoughts or observations on mileage in the cold.

What car? What oil is in the car? Is it in garage?
Whatever you do, first few km's do not turn on heat and vent for 2-3km's as that delays warming up. Also, do not idle longer than necessary to put seatbelt, get accomodated. Move and move slowly, allowing transmission (assuming it is automatic) to [censored] around 2,000rpms.


11' BMW 328i xDrive 6MT (BMW TPT 5W30+OE filter)
11' VW Tiguan 2.0T (Castrol 0W30+OE filter)
15' Toyota Sienna AWD (Mobil1 5W30 EP+OEM filter).
Re: MPG decrease in very cold weather?? [Re: 2009Caraman] #5319247 01/11/20 01:02 AM
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At -35C, right after startup, on a car that typically gets 32mpg, the real-time MPG (on flat land) can be as low as 4-5mpg on my car. Early 1990s 3.1L GM V6.

Yes, it improves rapidly as things warm up, but on a 15 minute drive, you'll be exposed to a lot of such operation unfortunately.

Transmission keeps it in first gear for quite a while. To get it into second when its that cold feels like total abuse the revs required. The transmission doesn't have electronics (all vacuum or oil driven), so just the sheer viscosity of the fluid causes that behavior.

BTW, welcome to the forums! Glad to see another fellow Canadian here.


Change your thinking...not your oil!
Turn your mind....not your rotors!
Re: MPG decrease in very cold weather?? [Re: 2009Caraman] #5319255 01/11/20 01:28 AM
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If you could get the drivetrain up to operating temperature quicker it would help with your fuel economy but being cold there are other things to worry about.


make the inside of your engine oil cap white.
don't use.
Re: MPG decrease in very cold weather?? [Re: dave1251] #5319259 01/11/20 01:45 AM
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pitzel Offline
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Originally Posted by dave1251
If you could get the drivetrain up to operating temperature quicker it would help with your fuel economy but being cold there are other things to worry about.


Assuming wear/damage isn't an issue, would it burn less fuel to immediately put significant load on the engine, to warm it up. Or idle it until it warms up and is more efficient?

It'll burn more fuel at the "significant load", but will warm up considerably faster at such point, the fuel consumption will drop rapidly.

Likewise, assuming the engine will start without a block heater, will cost incrementally more (or less) to partially heat the engine up with a block heater, than it would by simply starting it and burning an additional amount of fuel to warm it? The sort of temperature increase a block heater could achieve in an hour or two at -35, for example, likely pales in comparison with just literally a few seconds of engine operation and the heat created in the block due to combustion of the fuel.

I've personally mostly avoided using block heaters because if a car is in such condition that it won't start from the ambient cold without one (ie: due to weak battery, starter, etc.), I really don't want to be taking that vehicle anywhere that it can get cold and not start anyways. So its a matter of safety.

0W-xx oils, of course, mandatory in Canada.


Change your thinking...not your oil!
Turn your mind....not your rotors!
Re: MPG decrease in very cold weather?? [Re: 2009Caraman] #5319264 01/11/20 02:14 AM
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All of the above, plus don't forget that before fully warmed you burn more fuel as well.


"Let’s not pretend like 0w20 is anything but a CAFE required crutch to eek another 1/2MPG" - BLND1

Hers: 2018 Ford Flex AWD EB, dealer fill

His: 2015 4Runner 60k, SS 5w20/Amsoil

Re: MPG decrease in very cold weather?? [Re: pitzel] #5319271 01/11/20 02:31 AM
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Also the drivetrain will wear less the faster operation temp is achieved without significant load of course.


make the inside of your engine oil cap white.
don't use.
Re: MPG decrease in very cold weather?? [Re: dave1251] #5319280 01/11/20 03:32 AM
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Originally Posted by dave1251
Also the drivetrain will wear less the faster operation temp is achieved without significant load of course.


Well 'wear' can be a function of warm-up rates as well on certain kinds of parts, ie: gaskets that seal dissimilar metals.

There's lots of industrial equipment for which the manufacturers specify that warm-up rates shall not exceed certain values. Steam and gas turbines come to mind.

A drivetrain 'wearing out' faster may very well be justified in the context of fuel savings, or operational life limitations that are less than the probable in-service use of the equipment. ie: most cars made in the past 30 years were retired and destroyed with perfectly functional engines, but were removed from service due to accidents, technological obsolescence (ie: cash for clunkers, excess fuel consumption), or uneconomically repairable other components like interiors, transmissions, electronics, etc. Not bona fide mechanical engine wear.



Change your thinking...not your oil!
Turn your mind....not your rotors!
Re: MPG decrease in very cold weather?? [Re: 2009Caraman] #5319304 01/11/20 05:04 AM
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Hard to say for sure without knowing what vehicle the OP is asking about but him saying slightly says it's normal.

My 08 Lucerne isn't as bad as my 99 LeSabre was which I think has to do with the fact the Lucerne warms up faster, both have the 3800. The Lucerne has dropped from 15.8 to 14.5 average according to the computer since winter started but that includes warm up time in the morning and sometimes at lunch depending on how cold it is, nice getting in a warm vehicle.The interesting thing to me is how fast the OLM has dropped since winter started.

I really don't want to talk about my 89 Sierra, it's to painful.


89 GMC Sierra Advanced 5w30/51036 Wix
08 Lucerne CX Advanced 5w30/1040 Gold
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