Does Altitude Affect Vehicle Performance? In a Word, Yes.

Your engine requires a specific amount of air to run properly. Due to the lower level of oxygen at higher altitudes, those of you who live at elevation may notice a significant decrease in power and performance. (It’s not much different for humans, actually.) While this is normal, there are ways to combat power loss at altitude and combat the other issues your vehicle faces at elevation.

Like Driving on Mount Everest

Just as mountain climbers suffer from low oxygen at high altitudes, so do cars. There are several ways that this occurs:

  • Power loss: As you climb higher, there is less oxygen available in the air. Due to this lower density, your engine can’t develop as much power, since it uses the oxygen in the air to mix with your fuel for combustion. Your performance will be noticeably lower as you climb to higher altitudes.
  • Fuel system: A lower octane level of fuel is required at higher altitudes, since there isn’t enough oxygen per volume of air to take advantage of high-octane fuels. If you fill up at a high altitude and return to your lower elevation later, you may suffer from engine sputtering and a lack of power.
  • Tire pressures: Even your tire pressures can be affected when driving at higher elevations. That’s because lower exterior air pressure and colder temperatures can cause a drop of several psi in your tires. When your air pressure gets low, you will experience reduced handling and breaking and a fuel mileage drop.

Solutions When Driving at Altitude

Many people live and drive at altitude, so there are solutions. A good fuel system additive can help combat the effects of elevated driving and keep your engine running properly. Always choose the right octane of fuel for where you are driving and add one of our Rislone fuel additives for added confidence. When talking to customers on our tech support line, we typically recommend Rislone Complete Fuel System Treatment, which is essentially eight additives in one bottle. You can also check your tire pressures as you climb up in altitude to ensure you’re getting the most out of your car.

Browse our fuel system products now (we have solutions for diesel owners, too) and choose the one that suits your driving style and lifestyle situation. You can locate a nearby retailer using our online locator. We also invite you to give us a call or send us a message if you have any questions or would like help choosing the right product. We’re always happy to chat.