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Why your pickup has reduced fuel efficiency during the winter

2/24/2015 10:45:41 AM by Tractor-Part.com

It's a question you have probably asked yourself before: Why does my pickup always seem to lose fuel efficiency during the winter? Bruce Smith, Senior Editor editor at Randall-Reilly, addresses this question in a recent Equipment World article.

Starting in the winter months, you may have noticed that your tank of gas doesn't get the same number of miles, Smith writes. But don't assume that there's something wrong with the engine, and that's what's short-changing your miles per gallon.

Instead, "The mileage robber is 'winter-blend' gasoline," Smith asserts.

In efforts to reduce evaporative air pollution, the EPA requires that refineries switch to less-volatile gasoline in the summer months.

However, "such evaporation isn't deemed as much of an issue when it's cold," Smith explains. "So around Sept. 15 refineries change the gasoline formula by cutting it with a higher percentage of low-energy butane, which allows the gas to evaporate faster."

But this comes with a downside, Smith says. Switching to a higher percentage of low-energy butane "reduces gasoline's energy-per-gallon, which consequently drops mpg by some accounts between 2-8 percent while boosting gas producers' profit margins."

On June 1 the refining process is reversed again. The butane level is reduced, meaning the gasoline doesn't evaporate as easily and your truck's mpg returns to normal.

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Wondering why your pickup loses fuel efficiency in the winter?