Some people choose to have their routine maintenance work (oil changes, tire rotations, etc.) outside the dealership because they believe dealership maintenance is too expensive, takes too long, or is not a good bargain.
Preventable Maintenance Pays Off
Summer VS Winter Fuel Economy
I speak with customers on a regular basis with concerns that their vehicle's fuel economy apparently dropping during colder winter months.
There are several reasons that a driver might notice that they don't seem to be able to go quite as far on a tank of fuel during the winter.
The number one thing that impacts fuel mileage is one that is often overlooked. A very high percentage of drivers will start their automobile first thing and allow it to "warm up" for a few, or even several minutes (I have even heard some customers allowing the vehicle to run for 20 minutes before driving.) An important thing to realize is, that although the car is not moving, the engine is running and therefore using fuel. Using fuel without forward movement can have a huge impact on overall fuel economy. While we all enjoy our car being nice and toasty on a cold morning, for the best fuel economy, minimize "warm-up" time to only 1-2 minutes.
Another factor which can impact cold weather fuel usage is the change from "Summer blend" to "Winter blend" fuels. The difference between summer- and winter-blend gasoline involves the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) of the fuel. RVP is a measure of how easily the fuel evaporates at a given temperature. The more volatile a gasoline (higher RVP), the easier it evaporates.
Winter-blend fuel has a significantly higher RVP because the fuel must be able to properly evaporate at low temperatures for the engine to operate properly, and especially when the engine is cold. If the RVP is too low on an extremely cold day, the vehicle will be hard to get started and once it has started, will likely run rough, or seem to struggle to maintain idle.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that a conventional summer-blend gasoline contains 1.7 percent more energy than winter-blend fuel, which is one of the reasons why gas mileage is slightly better in the summer. However, the summer-blend is also more expensive to produce, which explains why fuel prices tend to drop in winter.
The switch between the two fuels happens twice a year, once in the fall (to winter-blend) and again in the spring (to summer-blend).
Generally speaking winter blend fuels begin making their appearance in mid-September and have been purged from systems by late May.
There are always other factors which can impact fuel economy; vehicle state of tune, quality of fuel, and driving habits. Understanding how all these factors can impact your vehicle's fuel economy can be helpful in predicting changes in your vehicle's thirst for fossil fuels, and alleviate some tension or apprehension about a perceived problem with the car.