Saving at the Pump

At, we’re all about helping you get great deals so you can save more money.

But you won’t have a whole lotta money to save if you spend it all on gas!

Thanks to unrest in the Middle East (fighting in Libya makes investors worry the entire area could be affected) and the recent earthquake in Japan, gas prices are climbing by the day. It’s hovering at $1.20, at least where I live.

Since we start to drive more this time of year, and things overseas are not yet stable, they may go higher still.

There’s nothing we can do about world events, but we can change some of our behaviours to need less gas to get where we need to go.

Here’s some saving tips:

Drive less. I know! This is a no brainer! But try walking, biking (perhaps not now, but in a few weeks it should be warm enough) and taking public transit. Or just make that extra effort to pick up friends on the way to the movie instead of all driving separately.

Avoid idling. Idling your vehicle for just two minutes uses as much gas as travelling 1.5 km. So if you’re dropping the kids off or waiting in a lineup for cheap gas, shut the engine off. Yes, it uses gas to fire up your engine, but if you idle for more than 10 seconds, you’ll use less fuel by shutting off and restarting again. Also, it’s a myth that idling the car on a cold day helps warm up the engine. It doesn’t, and wears on the car’s parts. Better to just drive it to help it warm up.

Drive Zen. Rapid acceleration and hard braking uses about 37 per cent more fuel than smooth driving. Speeding uses up more gas too: you’ll go through 20 per cent more gas going 120 km/hr instead of 100.

Use cruise control. On flat highways, cruise control regulates your speed and can save you as much as seven per cent in mileage.

Lighten the load. Driving with extra weight in the car reduces your mileage. That includes not just extra stuff in your trunk, but icicles that form under in your wheel wells on chilly days.

Check your tires. Underinflated tires can drag you down. Having them under by two pounds per square inch increases how much fuel you use by about one per cent.

Get a tune up. Along with tires, things like broken oxygen sensors, old spark plugs and poor wheel alignment can impact the efficiency of your car. Get your oil changed regularly and be sure you’re using the correct grade.

Stay cool. When the weather warms up, consider how you’ll cool your passengers. There’s some debate as to how much fuel air conditioning uses versus open windows. The verdict seems to be that the A/C does indeed use fuel, but leaving the windows open at highway speeds causes considerable drag on the car — reducing your mileage by about ten per cent — A/C might be a better choice in this case.

There’s little you can do about gas prices. Except maybe accept that high prices may be with us for awhile. So time to change our practices and get used to a new way of driving and caring for our vehicles.

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