Drivers are monitoring gas stations and consulting websites to find the lowest available gas prices in their area. Canadians will drive a few extra blocks, or even several kilometers, out of their way to save money on gas, even if it’s just a few tenths of a cent per litre.
Related: 35 Ways To Save Money
It seems there are few things more satisfying than buying a tank-full of cheaper gas.
Save Money On Gas
With gasoline prices over $1 a litre, it’s time to review some ways to save money at the pumps. Here are 20 tips to save money on gas:
- Ease off that lead foot. Rapid acceleration from red lights and hard breaking increases fuel consumption by 37% – not to mention the five-fold increase in toxic emissions.
A car consumes the most gas as it accelerates. Keep your ride smooth. Keeping a little more distance from the car ahead of you allows you to hold your speed steady without having to step on the brake all the time (unless everything slows down).
Related: How To Save Money By Going Green
- Don’t idle excessively. I know we all like to get into a warm vehicle on a cold day, but excessive idling wastes a lot of gas – and can be hard on your engine as well.
Experts say that if you are going to be stopped for more than 10 seconds (except in traffic) turn off the engine.
Driving around town
- Plan and combine your trips. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance.
- Pick a better route. Avoid heavy traffic and lots of traffic lights. The shortest route is not always the most fuel efficient if you have to stop all the time.
- When commuting to work stagger your work hours to avoid peak rush (or better yet, telecommute) if your employer permits it.
- Reduce weight. Empty out the trunk by removing heavy items you don’t need – golf clubs, etc. This affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.
- Reduce drag. Why are you driving around with that full ski/bike/luggage rack on your roof if you don’t need it? Loaded roof racks decrease fuel efficiency by 5%. Place items in the trunk whenever possible – but only when you need them.
- Slow down on the highway. The speed limit on most Canadian highways is 100 – 110 kph. Motorists who keep to that speed find that they are passed by most of the traffic – but they will have better gas mileage. It takes 20% more fuel to go the same distance at 120 kph than it does at 100 kph.
- Use your cruise control (sometimes). On the flat prairies, using your cruise control will save an average of 7%. However, on hilly terrain it’s more fuel efficient to let your speed drop going uphill and build it up again going down the other side.
- The first gas station you encounter after a long stretch is almost never the cheapest – everyone pulls over to full up as soon as they can. If possible, drive a little further to find a cheaper station.
- Are we there yet? Getting lost while driving in unfamiliar areas could lead to an expensive waste of gas. Plan your route.
Don’t skimp on car maintenance
The days of back-yard mechanics are long gone. Newer vehicles are so complex that most repairs and adjustments are better left to those who are trained.
Often the only time a driver takes his or her vehicle in for service is when the “check engine” light comes on. You should check your manual for the recommended service.
- Keep your engine properly tuned.
- Use the correct grade of motor oil. The wrong grade may increase friction in your engine – it gets hotter and uses more gas. Change the oil at the recommended times.
- Keep tires properly inflated. Proper tire pressure for your vehicle is usually found on a sticker on your driver’s side doorjamb. Check your tire pressure regularly, especially after a sharp drop in temperature. Each tire that is under inflated by 2 lbs per square inch causes a 1% increase in fuel consumption.
- Don’t drive around all summer with snow tires on.
- Walk or bike. It’s good for your wallet and your health.
- Use public transit if convenient.
- Car pool. Not only will this save money depending on how many are in the car, there are other advantages too. Conversation keeps drivers alert. In areas with HOV or car pool lanes they won’t spend as much time in traffic idling, get better gas mileage – plus get home sooner.
Drive a fuel-efficient car
If you are in the market for a new car, consider fuel efficiency. Even if you don’t want a hybrid or electric car go for the smallest version of the vehicle you are considering.
Most people who drive 8 cylinder, all-wheel drive, off-road vehicles rarely do more than commute a few kilometers to work or shop – on well-paved roads.
Be wary of gasoline saving devices
When gas prices rise consumers often look for ways to improve fuel efficiency. Many companies will try to sell you mileage-improving devices and fuel additives.
Some claim that they will save you 10 – 50%. Be very skeptical of these claims and consumer testimonials. None have been proven to effectively save money on gas.
We probably will never see really cheap gas ever again (even in Alberta). By changing your driving habits you can improve your fuel economy by up to 37%.
If you are willing to change, you’ll find many related benefits too – no speeding tickets, greater safety, lower repair bills.
Combine several tips and perform routine vehicle maintenance and, in the long run, you will get considerable savings.