As gas prices continue to soar, CAA is trying to help Manitobans get the biggest bang for their buck out of every tank of fuel.
CAA Manitoba has come out with a list of fuel-saving tips for motorists. It says the easiest and most effective way to improve the fuel economy of any car is to modify driving habits. This includes driving conservatively. Rapid acceleration and hard braking can lower your fuel economy by 15 to 30 percent at highway speeds and 10 to 40 percent in stop-and-go traffic. If your car has a manual transmission, you should upshift as soon as is practical and when coming to a stop, it is suggested you use the brakes rather than downshifting to slow the car.
Another tip is to anticipate road conditions. CAA Manitoba suggests monitoring the traffic ahead and timing the stop lights in order to maintain momentum while avoiding unnecessary acceleration and braking.
Heather Mack is Manager of Government and Community Relations with CAA. She suggests observing speed limits, noting fuel economy on most cars peaks at around 80 kilometres per hour (km/h). Reducing highway speeds by 10 to 15 km/h can increase fuel economy by seven to 14 percent.
Mack says other ways to improve fuel efficiency are to use cruise control and avoid excessive idling as a car engine consumes one quarter to half a gallon of fuel per hour when idling, but a warm engine only takes around 10 seconds worth of fuel to restart. Where safe to do so, it is recommended you turn off your engine if you will be stopped for more than one minute.
Fuel can also be saved by spending a bit of time planning your trip. It is recommended you combine errands and route your travel to minimize backtracking. Taking advantage of off-peak traffic periods to commute to work or run errands is also advantageous.
Mack says one way we hurt our fuel economy is by keeping unnecessary items in our vehicles.
"If you remove 50 to 100 pounds of cargo from your vehicle, that can change your fuel economy by about one percent, so that's quite a serious amount," notes Mack. "Clearing out all those winter items out of your vehicle will have a big impact."
Not only can adjusting your driving habits help with fuel efficiency, but CAA Manitoba says practicing good car maintenance can also go a long way. This includes making sure to use the proper type of oil and also buying quality fuel. It is suggested you use the gasoline grade that is recommended by the car's manufacturer as choosing top tier brands prevents fuel system and engine deposits that reduce efficiency.
Mack also urges motorists to check the tires for proper inflation at least once a month.
"If your tires are not at the proper inflation, it's basically like driving with the parking brake on," she explains.
Ensuring the engine air filter is clean will also help with fuel efficiency.
And finally, CAA Manitoba says a little bit of planning can help as well. Avoiding the use of rooftop luggage carriers will help with aerodynamics, while parking in the shade during the summer will reduce the need for air conditioning.
Other tips include turning off the air conditioning and rolling down the windows, as well as regularly tracking your vehicle's fuel economy as a sudden drop in mileage may indicate a need for car service.
Meanwhile, Mack says even with the high gas prices, CAA Manitoba does not anticipate a significant decline in road trip planning this summer. She notes studies show that it takes a sustained amount of time at a very high price before driving behaviour changes.
"We expect lots of road trips this summer, even with these high gas prices," she says.