How the High Altitude of Colorado Affects Your Car

No matter where you live, the environment is going to have some effect on your auto. If you live near the beach, you’ll want to invest in regular washing and waxing to keep the salty sea air from damaging the finish and the body of your car. If you live somewhere with harsh Winters, you need to learn how to let your car warm up before you pull out of the driveway. In Colorado, it seems to be the altitude that really does a number on your vehicle if you’re not careful.

The main thing affecting your engine in Denver, CO is the lower air density. This means less compression, so all the vital components of your fuel, the nitrogen, oxygen, and argon, are being drawn into the cylinder at a lower rate than if you were closer to the coast. The difference works out to something like three to four percent power loss for every thousand feet above sea level. In Denver, at just over 5,000 feet above sea level, this would be a loss of anywhere from fifteen to twenty percent of the car’s advertised horsepower, so a 200 hp car, for instance, would only be going at about 150-170 hp. Closer to the continental divide and that number will get smaller. If you’re wondering why you can’t do zero to sixty in Colorado like you could in California, there’s your answer.

The upside:

You can go ahead and use lower octane gas in Denver, CO and it won’t make that big of a difference.

Some cars are built to work around this issue, with most newer vehicles using a fuel delivery system that accounts for differences in pressure. Fuel injection systems can negate the difference as well.

With regular maintenance and a policy through Alliance General Insurance Agency, your car won’t suffer any serious damage due to altitude. Give us a call to find out more about what we can do for your auto insurance at Alliance General Insurance Agency.