How Does Altitude Affect Your Car?

September 13th, 2018 by

White Acura TLX turning bend on mountain highway

Driving in the Mile-High City has its challenges, not the least of which is the altitude and the impact it has on every part of your vehicle. Altitude can make small problems more pronounced and cause new issues if you aren’t paying close enough attention to your vehicle’s needs. We’re here to help you prevent that, so you can make your winter drive a little less stressful.

Effect on Your Tires

Cold weather can reduce air pressure in your tires, a fact made even worse when changing altitudes.  Minor changes, such as the 120 feet you’ll gain traveling from Littleton to Aurora won’t make much difference, but the 569 feet you’ll gain on your way to Highland Ranch might.  The strain of such extreme changes, and traveling at 5,920 feet, could cause:

  • Steering Difficulty
  • Reduced Fuel Economy
  • Uneven Tire Wear
  • Tire Failure if Pressure Falls More than 6psi Below Manufacturer’s Recommendations.

By inspecting your tires regularly, you can avoid most common issues and ensure a safer driving experience.

The Effects on Your Fuel System

Most modern fuel-injected vehicles are designed to adapt to higher elevations automatically and will not stall like older, carbureted engines. This is good news for drivers who find themselves on the road to Parker which, at 5,869 feet once forced drivers to make constant adjustments to the fuel system to make it work properly. As an added perk; your Acura can function very well with lower octane fuel, which could save you some money at the pump over premium.

The Effects on your Engine Power

Higher elevations mean reduced oxygen in the air. If you’re a new transplant, you may have noticed that breathing was a bit more challenging before you adjusted, leaving you a little sluggish as a result.

The same is true for your car. Vehicles lose about 3-percent of their total power for every 1,000 feet in altitude, so a car cruising in Centennial, which sits at 5,830 feet above sea level would have about 17.5 percent less boost than a vehicle traveling in San Francisco, which is only 52 feet above sea level.

This difference could have an impact on everything from acceleration to towing capability if your vehicle isn’t designed to accommodate the change. Fortunately, most new Acura vehicles are.

How Do I Take Care of My Acura in High Altitude?

There are plenty of things you can do to help your Acura perform well no matter the altitude or weather conditions:

  • Clean Air Filters: In a lower oxygen environment, proper airflow is critical.
  • Check Tires: Keep an eye on your tire pressure and condition.
  • Keep Injectors Clean: Clean injectors can help provide more even fuel delivery no matter the atmospheric pressure.
  • Perform Regular Maintenance: Maintaining a regular service calendar will help you to get ahead of any issues and keep your Acura humming all year long.

Learn More About High-Altitude Driving

By performing a few simple tasks now, you’ll be ready for high-altitude driving, even in Denver’s harshest weather – and isn’t that what you bought an Acura for? To learn more or to schedule your visit, contact us today at Mile High Acura.


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