How to save at the pump

By Tatjana Sulker Special to the Epoch Times

As the prices at the pump continue to fluctuate, you may notice your wallet seems lighter.

To become more fuel-efficient and reduce those depressing trips to the pumps, there are a number of things you can do to offset high fuel costs and stretch out your gas dollars.

First, and most important, make sure your vehicle is properly maintained. Staying on a consistent care schedule for your automobile (as determined by the manufacturer) and ensuring that it is in good working order will ensure that you car and its engine are the most fuel-efficient that they can be.

Regularly scheduled oil changes, including filter replacement, are the most basic and yet most important things you can do.

With winter coming, most drivers will feel they need to warm up their vehicle through idling before driving away in an effort to keep the engine safe. Nothing could be further from the truth. Idling is not the proper way to warm up your vehicle's engine, even in the winter. You do not need to idle your vehicle's engine for more than 30 seconds before driving away, even on the coldest of days. Idling a vehicle for an average of 10 minutes a day uses an average of 100 litres of gasoline a year. If your car engine is really affected by the cold in the morning, use a block-heater that will help your engine start more easily and reach its peak operating temperature faster, without the damage and fuel wastage that idling promotes.

Don't forget that your tire pressure should be checked once a month, when the tires are "cold" - either when the vehicle has been stationary for at least 3 hours, or has only been driven less than 2 kilometres. Under-inflated tires increase the rolling resistance, forcing your car's engine to work harder, and therefore using more gas to get you where you're going. A 20% drop in tire pressure can result in a 10% increase in fuel consumption. Keep in mind the seasons - tire pressure can fluctuate, especially as the temperature drops as we move from autumn to winter, so now is an excellent time to check your pressure.


Aside from your car, there are other ways to use less gas. Roof racks and extra cargo increase the weight and wind resistance of your car. If your really don’t need it, don’t pack it, and remember to take heavy things out of your trunk instead of leaving them there. Plan your trips carefully so you can combine errands and decrease backtracking as another way to save on fuel, and because your engine will consume more fuel during the period in which it warms up, try to run errands on the way home from your commute rather than making a special trip. Trips of less than 5 kilometres generally do not allow an engine to reach its peak operating temperature, especially in cold weather, which means higher fuel consumption.

Driving too fast and accelerating too quickly also waste fuel, so give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination, and keep to the speed limit. By increasing your highway cruising speed from 100 km/h to 120 km/h, you will increase fuel consumption by 20%. Remember to keep your eyes on the road and adjust your speed for stops and starts during your journey – fast starts and hard-breaking also wastes fuel and are hard on your engine.

If you are looking for a new (or used) car, know that fuel consumption varies from one vehicle to the next, so any purchase decision you make will have a direct effect on your future fuel consumption. Canada’s EnerGuide labels new cars with their fuel consumption rating right on the car window. By keeping these tips in mind, those trips to the pump can be fewer and farther between.

Tatjana Sulker is a representative of Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) of South Central Ontario, Canada.
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How to save at the pump article