Gas prices are growing faster than our wallets (industry experts are saying it’s going to top a buck-twenty this summer in the Vancouver area). There’s already the obvious stuff, like minimizing the number of trips you make, participating in carpooling, walking or biking short distances instead of driving, and everything else of that ilk, but for a lot of us, driving is a necessity sometimes. Here are three key tips will save you money and keep your fuel costs down.
- Regular oil changes:
- Appropriate tire pressure:
- Warming up:
Different cars need their oil changed at different intervals, so check your owner’s manual. That said, most vehicles fall somewhere in the 5000-8000 kilometre (3000 to 5000 miles) range these days. Don’t cheap out on this. If your engine’s internals aren’t properly lubricated (clean that dirty mind of yours), it has to work that much harder to do the same amount of work, not to mention the potential damage that you can cause. Other regular maintenance things will also keep your car running efficiently, like checking on the fuel filter, air filter, spark plugs, distributor, and all that good stuff.
Under-inflated tires can have a significant impact on your fuel economy, and you should be checking your tire pressures every couple of weeks. That said, don’t over-inflate either. Over-inflated tires create a smaller contact patch with the road and can be quite dangerous to drive on, especially under less than ideal conditions (rain, snow, etc.). If you’re running on OEM or OEM-replacement tires, try to adhere to what the owner’s manual says. If you’re running plus-sized rims, you usually want an extra psi or 2. A general rule of thumb is 80% of the maximum psi indicated on the tire’s sidewall.
When the engine’s cold, your engine works harder to maintain the same RPM. Especially after your car has been parked for a long time, or during cold mornings, it’s important to warm up your car a little bit before heading off. This gives the engine an opportunity to get up to proper operating temperature. That said, don’t idle for too long because idling will gobble up the gas as well. It’s all about balance and a 30-second to one-minute warm-up is a good rule of thumb. Of course, if you’ve only stopped at the grocery store for a 10 minutes, it’s not really necessary to give the car more than a few seconds before driving off.