Summer may have come and gone but there are likely a few steamy weeks left before autumn hits. Many Canadians may be squeezing in a last-minute road-trip before the roads are covered in sleet and snow in a month or two. Here are six tips to help you save money on fuel when you’re on the road no matter what the weather.
1. Take care of your ride
A well-maintained vehicle is a more fuel-efficient vehicle. Change your oil on schedule and be sure to use the correct grade of oil for your car. Check the owner’s manual. If you don’t know how long it’s been since your last tune-up it might be time to visit your mechanic; one misfiring spark plug will make your car run rough and waste gas. Make sure all the filters are clean and that all your tires are inflated to the recommended pressure. Remember that changes in temperature will impact tire pressure so if you haven’t checked since you last removed the winter tires, check now.
2. Drive like there’s a cop behind you all the time
Potential speeding tickets aren’t the only reason to drive at or just below the speed limit. This range is also the “sweet spot” where most vehicles get the best fuel mileage. Also a smooth, gentle acceleration away from lights and stop signs are much easier on your wallet than Indy-inspired starts.
3. Sweat it out a little
The heat waves of summer may be behind us but the fall months usually produce a few scorchers too. When this happens you may be tempted to crank on the air conditioning but remember, that means your car will also burn about 10% more fuel. Do without it if you can. However, don’t try to compensate by rolling down the windows, as the fuel burned by the increased drag this creates will outweigh any savings generated by turning off the A/C.
4. No loitering
Sitting parked in your car while it’s idling is the automotive equivalent of loitering. Any time you are stopped and parked for more than 30 seconds, like when you’re picking the kids up after school or when your significant other runs into the store to grab some milk, don’t let it idle while you wait, turn it off. Some idling autos can burn a litre of gas in less than half an hour. It adds up.
5. Don’t be a drag
You don’t have to be an aerodynamics expert to see that an unneeded roof rack or an open tailgate on a truck would be a drag on the vehicles airflow and its fuel consumption. Keep things flowing smoothly by removing racks and accessories that hinder airflow when you’re not using them. Removing any excessive weight in your car helps too.
6. Shop smart
Keep an eye on local gas prices and fill up when they are low. Don’t wait until a long weekend to fill your tank because gas prices always seem to “mysteriously” go up just as they arrive. Gas is usually a bit more expensive on major highway stations and if you have a Costco membership there is a little money to be saved by buying your gas there. However, be careful not to obsess and spend an hour driving around looking for the station with the best price, only to waste more gas in the process.
By following these simple tips you can reduce your car’s fuel bill which will free up some money for more important things. Like ice cream or pumpkin spiced lattes.
Robert R. Brown is a personal finance speaker and the author of Wealthing Like Rabbits. Follow him on Twitter @wealthingrabbit