The Effects Of Altitide
The most noticeable side-effect of altitude is lowered air density. Lower air density means less compression, so less of the vital fuel components like oxygen, nitrogen, and argon are in any given volume of air when compared to the same volume at sea level. Having less density means that your engine pulls in less oxygen, nitrogen, and argon, resulting in up to 20% loss in power!
Effects On The Engine
Unlike normal wear and tear that’s compounded over time, altitude effects build as soon as the vehicle starts to climb. Many newer vehicles are designed and tested in high altitude areas to minimize the effects – you might even have seen them testing in your neighborhood.
The reduced oxygen means that your engine struggles to intake enough air to feed itself –this can lead to inefficient and even sluggish performance. If it’s not tuned correctly, it can impact everything from towing capability to acceleration.
Effects On The Fuel System
A benefit of being at altitude is the lower fuel octane ratings required to correctly start running. The downside to this, though, is if you drive to lower elevation areas your check engine light may come on.
Effects On Tire Pressure
As temperatures drop at high elevation, tire pressure will decrease. If left unaddressed, low tire pressure can lead to reduced fuel economy, reduced steering precision, uneven wear, and at extremes, tire failure. If you’re driving up and down in elevation, it’s a good idea to check your pressure frequently.