Gas prices have smashed records in recent weeks as the world grapples with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and demand has surged as economies reopen.
The daily average retail price of gas nationwide hit an all-time high of $197.4 a liter on Tuesday, down from hovering around $146.1 earlier in the year, data from Natural Resources Canada showed.
The high prices have motorists grumbling, but there are some ways to get better mileage and lower your gas bills, says Teresa Di Felice, associate vice president of the Canadian Automobile Association’s South Central Ontario branch.
PLAN YOUR EXCURSIONS
Saving gas and getting better mileage starts before you leave home. Researching your route and using traffic updates or driving apps can help you avoid accident zones and other slow-moving areas, which helps you save on gas, says Di Felice.
Also group your trips. “Sometimes we go to a place and then we come home and we’re like, ‘Oh, I wanted to go to this place,’ and you go out again,” says Di Felice. “Try to rethink the trips you need to make so you can combine them and avoid the rush hours.”
PRACTICE PROPER VEHICLE MAINTENANCE
Mileage is better when vehicles are running properly, says Di Felice. To keep your vehicle in good condition, she recommends making sure engine filters are clean, brake fluids are topped up, and tire pressures are optimal.
“It’s not good for your gas or your car if you’re under-inflated or over-inflated,” she says.
To learn what the optimal pressure is, Di Felice urges drivers to look for a guide printed on the inside of your car’s driver’s door. Because driving habits, road conditions and weather can all affect pressure, she suggests setting up a monthly notification on your phone or marking your calendar so you check tire pressure regularly.
AVOID HARD BRAKING AND JACK RABBIT STARTS
Cars use more fuel when they switch instantly from stopping to driving at high speed or vice versa. When driving, try not to slam on the brakes at the last second or hit the gas hard when pulling away at a stoplight or sign to save gas, says Di Felice.
USE CRUISE CONTROL WHEN IT IS SAFE
Maintaining a constant speed can increase savings because you avoid fluctuations that affect your fuel efficiency. Apply cruise control when it’s safe to improve your mileage, says Di Felice, who notes that peak fuel efficiency for most cars is reached between 50 and 56 mph.
“People have the idea that they have to run their car before they drive it to warm it up because they think it’s better for the car,” says Di Felice.
“That might be true if you’re driving a really, really old model… but you don’t really have to drive a newer car for two or three minutes before you go.”
You can almost certainly be driving within 15 to 30 seconds of starting your car, and by not idling your vehicle you’re saving gas and helping the environment, says Di Felice.
BE STRATEGIC ABOUT AIR CONDITIONING
“Your air conditioning is a really big drain on your gas tank, especially if you choose the Auto Max feature in your car,” says Di Felice.
She recommends motorists roll down their windows before opting for air conditioning, avoid vehicles’ maximum automatic air conditioning functions, and stop idling their cars during the warm months to cool them down before driving.
REMOVE ROOF RACKS WHEN NOT IN USE
If you have roof racks or other storage devices on your car, consider removing them from your vehicle when you don’t need them to transport goods. These devices take a toll on your car and your fuel efficiency, Di Felice says.
KEEB TABS ON GAS PRICES
While you often can’t help but fill up when your car is almost empty, it’s worth watching prices when you have some wiggle room, says Di Felice. Several websites map gas stations and note their prices so you can find deals, and news sites often warn readers when prices are about to go up or down by pennies, she says.
LOOK FOR LOYALTY PROGRAMS
Many gas stations, credit cards, and other loyalty programs offer discounts on gas. CAA, for example, offers all of its members three cents a liter at Shell stations, says Di Felice. Esso, Husky’s and several other stations also have incentive programs.
Sometimes these programs allow you to earn points every time you fill up, and these points can be exchanged for other rewards.
Di Felice says, “You might not save directly on the pump, but you might save a few bucks on a grocery bill or something else you normally buy.”
MAKE THESE TIPS A HABIT
Most people know what to do to improve mileage or save gas, but fall slightly short of following this guide. Work the advice into your routine, says Di Felice.
“It’s just a matter of making it a habit.”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 12, 2022.
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