How long would your vehicle last in a winter storm?


DES MOINES, Iowa — Last week, drivers in Virginia found themselves stranded in their vehicles for nearly 30 hours after an ice storm caused hundreds of crashes. It’s the worst-case scenario, but do you know how long your car would last if you were stranded on a highway in Iowa?

“It kind of depends on how much gas you have in your tank right now and what size of engine you typically have. You can go for a while,” said David Undercoffler, editor. at Autolist.

Undercoffler says it’s all in the numbers. A full tank of gasoline for a four-cylinder engine will run longer than a six-cylinder engine that burns more gasoline, and if you end up in a traffic jam with half a tank.

“These are very rough calculations,” Undercoffler said. “If you have 10 gallons of gas in the tank, then you have maybe 10 hours.”

However, that’s a different story for electric vehicles.

“The batteries of an electric vehicle do not like the cold. They lose a lot of energy when it’s cold outside,” Undercoffler said. “But it’s much harder to know how long you have in an electric car to keep the heater on compared to a petrol car.”

Finally, he recommends checking your car’s exhaust if you ever sit in traffic during a winter storm.

“Keep the tailpipe clear because that’s where your exhaust comes out,” Undercoffler said. “And if the exhaust is blocked by snow, it’s carbon monoxide [and] it will begin to enter the car interior, and it can be life-threatening.


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