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Don’t let gas prices kick you to the curb

Not that long ago, British Columbians were calling the price of $1.30/litre of gas a ‘spike’ in price. Nowadays, that price is pretty much the norm, give or take a few cents. Across the country, BC continues to lead in high gasoline prices. On average, a litre in BC is about $1.32 while it’s 19 cents less in Ontario and a whopping 33 cents cheaper in Alberta.

Although fuel prices haven’t been front and centre in the news lately, drivers who haven’t gone electric yet are still very aware of how much they’re paying at the pump. If you drive a gas-powered or hybrid car which runs partially on gas, you may be wondering if there’s anything you can do to save money on fuel.

One thing to keep in mind is that gasoline is a commodity, and its price reacts to supply and demand, on both a wholesale and local retail level. Typically, demand increases during summer months when people drive more. Yet, competition in local retail markets can actually push gas prices lower. That means, consumers, like you, can make a difference and cause gas prices to lower if their vehicles are consuming less fuel.

So, anything you can do to reduce how much fuel your vehicle uses, such as ensuring it’s running efficiently and adjusting how you drive can influence prices. Plus, practicing fuel-saving driving habits not only saves you money, it’s better for the environment.

Here are fuel-saving tricks that BCAA Auto Experts want you to know about. Try them out and see your savings rise—and if more drivers do the same, we may also see gas prices fall (and any amount in cents can help!).

angry driver in car

1. Avoid aggressive driving, maintain steady speeds.

Punching the gas and driving at high and unsteady speeds uses up more fuel. A European study cited by Natural Resources Canada found that rapid acceleration from stoplights and hard braking reduced travel time by just 4% in city driving – the equivalent of just over a minute every half-hour – but resulted in a 37% jump in fuel consumption and a five-fold increase in emissions. Save fuel by slowing down, driving smoothly at steady speeds within the speed limit and avoiding jack-rabbit starts and hard braking.

2. Don’t rest your left foot on the brake pedal while driving.

Even the slightest amount of pressure causes components to engage which creates a drag and wears components down prematurely. BCAA Auto Service Experts highlight this not only causes your vehicle’s brake components to wear down prematurely, but the dragging eats up a lot more fuel unnecessarily as your car uses more fuel to overcome the resistance as you drive.

3. Don’t idle for more than 60 seconds.

That’s the point when shutting off and re-starting the engine actually consumes less fuel than keeping your vehicle running while in park. The average vehicle with a 3-litre engine wastes 300 millilitres (over 1 cup) of fuel for every 10 minutes it idles.

Avoiding idling can also help the environment. According to Natural Resources Canada, if every Canadian reduced their idling time by three minutes a day for a year, it would be comparable to taking 320,000 cars off of the road. While a remote car starter can be convenient, be careful not to start your vehicle before you’re ready to leave to avoid unnecessary idling.

auto service technician

4. Service your car regularly and keep your tires properly inflated.

A well-tuned vehicle with properly inflated tires not only improves fuel economy, it reduces emissions, improves drivability and will help extend the life of your vehicle and tires, maintaining its resale value for longer. Follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and tire pressure level.

Also, go to an Auto Service professional you trust who understands fuel efficiency and will conduct necessary checks and repairs to improve your vehicle’s fuel consumption and look for anything that can cause your vehicle to drag or the engine to work harder than it should. This includes ensuring moving components are properly lubricated, filters are clean, and tires are properly inflated and aligned. Auto Service Techs at BCAA Auto Service Centres are Red Seal Certified and understand the importance of fuel efficiency for your car and for your budget.

5. Reduce your driving distance by planning your trips.

Consolidate errands into one trip or combine them with your daily commute. Avoid high traffic areas and rush hours if you can to avoid having to sit in traffic idling.

gas price app

6. Lighten the weight and make your car more aerodynamic.

Clean out the trunk, cargo areas and passenger compartments. Carrying excess weight wastes gas. If you do have to carry items in your vehicle, pay attention to how they’re stored and distribute the weight evenly. Remove the roof rack when it is not in use to reduce wind resistance.

7. Be smart about finding cheap gas.

Keep your eyes open for low fuel prices but don’t waste gas driving to a distant filling station to save a few cents a litre. Look for cheaper gas along your route. Download the BCAA app to check out Gas Price Monitor, which shows gas prices and station locations near you or along your route to help you find the cheapest gas.

8. Use the appropriate fuel for your vehicle.

Check your owner’s manual for the recommended octane rating for your car. Using regular fuel when premium is required for can affect your car’s performance and fuel economy. On the flip side, using premium gas in a vehicle that only requires regular gas is not helping anything. Despite its name, premium fuel is not a ‘better’ fuel, it’s just made differently to suit different engine parametres.

9. Use your vehicle’s fuel-efficient driving mode.

If your vehicle is equipped with driving mode selections and a computer read-out to display fuel consumption results, learn how these features work and try different modes. You’ll see savings by selecting a driving mode that is designed to save fuel and you probably won’t even notice a difference in your vehicle’s performance.

evo car

Other ways to save

  • Use gas rewards programs to offset high gas prices. Learn more about the BCAA Rewards program with Husky where Members earn up to 1 cent per litre in CAA Dollars®.
  • If you change your main mode of transportation to cycling or public transit, use Evo Car Share only for the times you need to drive. Pay only for the time you use it, and Evo covers the rest. Its per minute rate covers the gas, insurance and parking (Evo can now park in meter spots within the city of Vancouver for free!), while you get unlimited kilometres. Plus, Evo’s fleet is made up of 1,500 Toyota Prius hybrid cars which is better for the environment.
  • Only use as much vehicle as you need. If you’re a two-vehicle family, and one is a larger car (like an SUV), and the other a four-cylinder compact, use the more fuel-efficient vehicle whenever possible.
  • Consider an electric vehicle for your next purchase. There are more models at different price points available compared to past years and battery-powered cars have evolved to run for longer distances on a charge.
  • Look for insurance discounts. If you drive a fuel-efficient vehicle, check with your insurance advisor to see if you’re eligible for vehicle insurance discounts. With BCAA, you get access to unique coverage benefits and a wide variety of savings, such as: an eco-friendly vehicle discount of 5%, along with one accident forgiveness and free pet coverage up to $1,000. Plus, BCAA Members save 10% on BCAA Optional Insurance.