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Video | Car Decorations Hurt Fuel Economy

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author photo by Lindsay Martell February 2018

You take fuel economy seriously. You shop around for the cheapest gas; you obey the speed limit (er, right … ?), but you'd be surprised at what can take a bit out of your stash of gas. Those cute reindeer antlers and Rudolph's nose you happily dragged out and put on your car late last year? Adorable, yes, but also potentially problematic: General Motors found car decorations hurt fuel economy.

In a video posted to YouTube -- 2018 GMC Terrain Holiday Aero Testing -- General Motors' engineers tested the drag impact of cheery holiday decorations in a wind tunnel. They did the numbers, and looked at how the festive add-ons affected the vehicle's aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.

The Nose Knows

The results? You may wanna leave the noses at home, folks.

The fake reindeer antlers and Rudolph's nose raised the drag coefficient by approximately 3 percent. This resulted in cutting the gas mileage by roughly 1 mpg.

The colorful bow on the roof of the car increased drag by 15 percent and caused fuel economy to decrease by 3.5 mpg.

The biggest culprit is the centerpiece of Christmas festivities — the tree. Attached to the roof, it caused drag to zip up by a hefty 70 percent, which cut fuel mileage by about 30 percent.

GM found that the air pushed the tree with around 90 pounds of force -- hence why it is crucial to ensure that it is securely tied before driving home.

No Frills = More Gas

GM advises folks to focus on decorating their homes, not their cars. If you choose to forgo that advice for upcoming holidays this year, just make sure that all the decorations and/or Christmas tree are tightly secured to your vehicle at all times. Nobody needs a decorative projectile flying toward their car.

And with the Super Bowl around the corner, you may want to rethink putting up those perky NFL team car flags. While GM didn't specifically look at how flags could slash fuel economy, it's safe to say they probably aren't improving your gas mileage. Sorry, Eagles and Patriots fans … it may save you a few dollars to show your team spirit at home.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Video | Car Decorations Hurt Fuel Economy - Autotrader