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Old 10-29-2008, 12:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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How to Winterize Your Car EcoModder Style

With winter fast approaching we're seeing our MPG drop off. This is normal. You will get lower mileage in winter, its just physics. However, there are a few things you can do to fight it. Here are my winterization list. It includes ecomods and general winterization tips.

Use a block heater.
In colder weather it takes even longer for your engine to warm up. A block heater can totally negate this penalty of winter. It also gets you heat a heck of a lot sooner! Put it on a timer to reduce electricity useage.

Install or beef up your grill block.
Last winter I ran my Matrix with a FULL grill block. The upper and lower grills were both completely blocked off and I never had any problems with coolant temps spiking at all. Depending on your climate, you might be able to do the same. The more you can block off the faster your warm up times will be and the more aerodynamic your vehicle becomes.

Use thinner oil if possible.
Some manufacturers specify thinner oil to be used at colder temperatures. Check your manual to see if you can run thinner oil. This will help your car start easier in the cold and reduce power losses to friction in the engine especially during warm up.

Use an 110V AC heater to preheat your cabin.
If you like jumping into a warmed up car, don't go out and idle your car or use a remote start. A better way is to go pickup a small space heater. Plug it in 10 minutes before you go to get into a nice warm car. If you don't even want to go out into the cold, I saw some remote plug units the other day at the store for turning on Christmas lights. Warm your car from the comfort of your home without using gas!

Get those snow tires on.
If you live in an especially snowy area, winter tires can literally be a life saver. Last year was the first year I've used snow tires, and I was very happy I put them on. My wife drives around a lot for her job, so its good to know she can get around better than before.

However, you will take a hit in rolling resistance when going to a snow tire. They are generally made from a softer rubber that will increase rolling resistance. Add that to the fact that they're made to grip in snow and you have a tire that isn't the most MPG friendly. So, this is your call. Just make sure to be safe out there.

Adjust tire pressure.
Again, this will be your call. Higher tire pressure is pretty much great for spring through fall. Its downside is definitly winter though. A hard tire is not going to mold well to an uneven surface like a snow covered road. So, it is advisable to think about decreasing tire pressure in the winter. You don't have to lower it a ton, just find a pressure you are comfortable with.

What do you guys do to prepare for winter?

Current project: Adding regenerative braking to the Mirage
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