MPG Robber: Winter-Blend Gasoline

Filling gas tank_BWS1366

Why our pickups’ fuel economy mysteriously drops in the winter

Have you noticed that your truck’s mileage seems to have dropped a little and you don’t get quite the miles on a tank as you were a few months ago?

Don’t worry. It’s not something wrong with the engine that’s short-changing the mpg. The mileage robber is the “winter-blend” gasoline.

Refineries are mandated by the EPA to switch to less volatile gasoline in the summer months as a means to reduce “evaporative” air pollution.

Such evaporation isn’t deemed as much of an issue when it’s cold. So around September 15th refineries change the gasoline formula by cutting it with a higher percentage of low-energy butane, which allows the gas to evaporate faster.

The downside: Doing so reduces gasoline’s energy-per-gallon, which consequently drops mpg by some accounts between 2%-8% while boosting gas producers’ profit margins.

Come June 1st the refining process is reversed; the amount of butane is reduced so gasoline doesn’t evaporate as easily – and our work truck’s mpg goes back to normal.