As we approach the mid-summer long weekend, many Canadians are likely wondering if they should pack up the car and the kids for a summer road trip. But there’s one thing that may throw a wrench in the plans for some – the rising price of gas.
The price of fuel across the country has undoubtedly jumped over the past few months and has likely been a contributing factor to the strengthening economy and rising inflation as of recent. As of July, gas prices in Canada are reportedly up about 30 cents more than last year’s average of 105.8 cents.
Long weekends are also notorious for higher-than-usual gas prices. So if you’re taking to the open roads for the early August holiday, here are some tips on how to save when filling up the tank.
Do your research and plan ahead
While gas prices tend to rise and fall in tandem, there are always those stations that somehow manage to undercut everyone else. Do your research online before you leave so you know who has the deals on fuel. You can easily get up-to-date prices at nearby stations, price predictions and average gas prices by province or state with virtual tools like GasBuddy.com or TomorrowsGasPriceToday.com.
If you’re in the planning stages of your trip, choosing a destination closer to home will obviously save you more on gas. The further you go, the more fuel you’ll need. Or if travelling with friends, organize a carpool so you can all split the cost of gas.
Take your car in for a routine tune-up before the big trip. An oil change and good tire pressure will make sure your car is running as efficiently as possible. According to Natural Resources Canada, a poorly maintained vehicle can cost the equivalent of up to 15 cents more per litre on fuel. Some items to keep in mind include:
- Your tires. Keeping your tires properly inflated helps your car run efficiently and can save you up to two weeks' worth of gas each year.
- Your motor oil. Improve your gas mileage by one to 2% by using the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil. If you use anything else, you're likely not getting all you can from your car.
Now that you’re on the road, consider this checklist of ways to make your vehicle even more fuel-efficient:
- Plan your route ahead and keep traffic in mind to avoid idling time. Stop-and-go driving actually uses more fuel than driving on the highway. Studies have shown that idling for 10 minutes uses about a third of a litre of gas, making that stop at the drive-thru for coffee costly.
- Reduce the amount of baggage you have in the vehicle to achieve better fuel economy. For every 100 additional pounds you store in your car, you are lowering the mileage you get per tank by one to 2%.
- Remove roof racks if they’re not being used. A roof rack takes a toll on your car’s aerodynamics, causing drag and decreasing your car’s fuel efficiency.
- Accelerate and brake smoothly. It’s estimated that hard starts and stops can lower your gas mileage by roughly 15 to 30% at highway speeds and 10 to 40% in stop-and-go traffic.
- Don’t speed. At 120 km/h, a vehicle uses about 20% more fuel than at 100 km/h. You can also use cruise control on the highway to reduce your gas use by as much as 35%.
- Instead of blasting the air conditioning throughout the trip, open the windows and only use the A/C as needed.
Put your plastic to work
There may be no escaping the need to purchase gas when you’re a car owner (unless you’ve gone full electric!), but you can minimize your costs with a credit card that rewards you with money or even free gas… just for buying gas!
One good option to consider is the Scotia Momentum® VISA Infinite* card, which earns 4% cash back on gas and grocery purchases.
Aside, it also earns 1% cash back on all other everyday purchases.
Leave your wheels behind
While it might not make a lot of sense on a road trip, consider leaving your car behind when you can. Once at your destination, take a stroll or rent bikes instead of driving, eat at nearby restaurants, and discover local attractions. After a long road trip, you might just want to try different forms of transportation anyway.
This post has been updated.