Downshifting the Expense of Gasoline

by Wendy Young on September 2, 2014

Along with a wallet’s worth of other expenses that creep in and up over the summer months, the cost of gasoline is a biggie. As families pile into minivans for extended road trips and quick jaunts to the cottage become regular events, the gasoline credit card gets a serious run during this fair-weather stretch, knocking an otherwise incidental cost into the upper echelons of full-on budgetary consideration.

In a poll conducted by BMO in advance of the August long weekend, 68 percent of respondents said they’d be making cutbacks in the last breath of this season to compensate for rising gas prices. Six in 10 of said they’d do less driving, and 52 percent said they’d spend less time out of town as a result.

gasolineBut as fixed a cost as fuel might seem, there’s actually a whack of easy-to-apply tips for not burning through it as fast as you otherwise might. Here are a few:

Drive slower. You don’t need to understand the physics behind why, only that the amount of energy it takes to propel a car grows as its speed does. Every eight kilometres over 80kmh a vehicle is traveling, fuel efficiency decreases by seven percent. So the faster you’re going, the more you’re spending.

Avoid rooftop cargo carriers. As convenient as they may be for hauling your junk, these marvels of itinerant storage can prove a real drag to your car’s aerodynamics — literally. Similarly, you should clean the rubbish out of your trunk. Every 45 kg of weight you can shed from your vehicle translates to a 1%-to-2% improvement in fuel economy.

Use the right motor oil. It’s not just marketing hype behind claims that the motor oil grade you put into your car will have an impact on its fuel economy. According to the EPA, using 10W30 in an engine designed for 5W30, for example, can increase fuel costs by between $.16 and $.28 a litre.

Inflate your tires. Keeping your vehicle’s tires properly inflated is important not only for reasons of safety, but for getting more from the gas you put in the tank.

Roll down your windows. Nothing’s a bigger thief to fuel economy than air conditioning. As such, avoid the manufactured stuff and cool your jets with a natural breeze if you can help it. (Though the flip side says the aerodynamic drag of highway driving with open windows negates these benefits; best, then, to drop the windows in the drifting city, and use moderate AC on fast-moving thoroughfares.)

The life lesson from these five tips on how to spend less in this single line of traffic of your life? That there’s opportunity to spend less across all the lanes.

Wendy is a qualified BIA Insolvency Counsellor with Hoyes, Michalos & Associates. She counsels individuals in Hamilton, Burlington and St. Catharines about their financial problems.

Wendy Young – who has written posts on Bankruptcy Hamilton Ontario.

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