I cringed as I drove past the gas station this morning. $1.22 a litre at the local place. Ouch, and from the news, it doesn’t sound like prices are going to go down this week. Whether this is a short-term pain (like back when Hurricane Katrina hit and prices were locally as high as $1.26/litre) or a long term trend, it’s definitely costing me more to go from place A to B.
Driving is a big chunk of my monthly budget. Quite simply, I have to drive if I want to get to work (about 35 km or 21 miles one-way) or go anywhere else. There is no public transportation around, save for the once a week greyhound bus that rolls through the nearby town, and car pooling opportunities are limited. I’m not complaining that I have to drive, I enjoy driving and I know that with living in the country, the wide open spaces makes driving necessary. However, with the rising cost of a tank of fuel ($50 this week), I am much more conscious of ways I can save at the pump and keep my driving-related expenses reasonable. Here is what I do to save money and fuel:
- Check GasBuddy.com regularly. There is a gas station near my house and five or six in the town I work in. Usually, the gas stations in town are cheaper than the one out in the boonies, but sometimes for whatever reason, the local one is cheaper. By checking GasBuddy, I know which stations are selling the cheapest gas. I also check it out if I’m going away, say shopping in the city or visiting relatives to see . There’s usually one town around that always has cheaper gas, so it’s usually worth it to stop there if it’s on your way. Of course, if you have to drive out of your way to get cheaper gas, it’s probably not worth it.
- Change the oil regularly. I change my own oil, and it’s really simple to do and cheaper than getting someone to do it for you. Just make sure you dispose of the old oil properly!
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated. I try and check the air pressure in my tires regularly (like once a week). If you don’t like those old-fashion tire gauges, there’s lots of digital tire gauges to be had, which make checking the pressure really easy. What pressure is the right pressure for you? Well it depends on your vehicle. Most vehicles have a sticker on the inside of the driver’s door that lists the tire pressure. Whatever you do though – make sure you don’t lose the tip that covers the tire valve!!!
- Go easy on the brakes and the gas pedal. Don’t stomp on the gas when the light turn green or from the corner and don’t jam on the brakes at the stop sign. I usually coast up to stop signs. Be aware of the cars in front of you too and don’t tailgate, you’ll use up more gas if you always having to brake for the person in front. Having more space between the car in front of you allows you to ease up off the gas instead of braking, which is more efficient.
- Use the cruise control. Driving at a constant speed is much more efficient that constantly speeding up and slowing down. I’ve been using the cruise control a lot now that the roads are dry and clear. Don’t use cruise control if the roads are wet, snowy or really rough. Using the cruise control is a good way to keep from getting speed tickets too. Out here in the boonies, if you keep it under 20 km/hr over the posted speed limit, generally speaking, the cops won’t bother you.
- If you have an old car, check the air filter. In newer cars, the computer can adjust the ratio of air and fuel based on how the condition of the air filter.
- If you drive an automatic, drive only with one foot! Having one foot on the gas and one on the brake makes it easy to press both at the same time, using more gas than necessary. If you drive a manual shift drive, by all means, drive with both feet
- Get rid of extra weight. It’s amazing what accumulates in the back seat and trunk of a car. A lighter car requires less work to get moving, and therefore, less fuel. Make sure you get all the snow/ice off your car too if you live somewhere cold. Believe the girl who spent a summer in the Yukon hauling around samples of snow and water on her back – the stuff is heavy!
- Don’t idle. About 30 seconds is long enough to warm up the car and there’s no point in idling if your running into the store or anything like that. Also, some places have anti-idling bylaws now.
- Drive less. Probably the most effective way to reduce the cost of driving. I resist trips to the convenience store to pick up a bag of chips or single item. I try to have a designated day in the week where I run all my errands – bank, groceries, post office, at once. It requires a little more planning, but once you get onto it, it’s pretty simple.
Got any gas saving tips? I think if gas hits 2 bucks a litre, I’m going to get a horse and a cutter sled
Have a good ‘un