Fuel Costs and Efficiency

I can remember back in the 1970s, riding my motorcycle to the local gas station after they closed and draining all the hoses at each pump to fill my tank for free. With most stations now open 24 hrs a day we know those days are gone, along with the days of low fuel costs.

Fuel costs are rising - keeping your vehicle in proper condition and adopting certain driving techniques can help lower your vehicle's fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 25%.

All in all, poor driving habits can lead to as much as a 45% drop in your vehicle's fuel efficiency, so make sure you are always driving safely.

A Few Tips for Fuel Efficiency

Keep your vehicle mass low: Heaviness requires more fuel to keep in motion.

Keep all maintenance up to date: Overall vehicle maintenance has a major effect on fuel efficiency.

Avoid traffic congestion: A significant source of decreased kpg average.

Idling is not recommended: An idle vehicle is still running; therefore, it is using fuel. Turn off your vehicle whenever possible.

A/C is not recommended: Running the A/C takes a lot of energy, so open the window whenever possible.

Speed: Braking hard and stomping on the gas pedal decreases fuel efficiency, therefore the speeds at which you drive affect your fuel economy.

Accelerate gently: The harder you accelerate the more fuel you use. 

Maintain a steady speed

Anticipate traffic

Avoid high speeds

Coast to decelerate

Obey the Engine Light to Save Fuel

When it is time for a tune-up, take your car in as soon as possible. Modern vehicles are designed to run up to 160,000 km without a major tune-up. When it is time it’s worth investing in since you'll save fuel and a potentially costly breakdown.

Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emission test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%, and if it is a serious problem, like a faulty oxygen sensor, efficiency can be improved by 40%! Following our same estimations of price and kpg, that comes out to a savings of up to $215/year, and 2400 pounds of CO2!

Filtering The Air = Fuel Efficiency

Though we don’t hear much about air filters, replacing one when needed can improve your fuel economy by 10%, which is significant. Air flows through filters to mix with gasoline, from which a spark ignites, and the wheels move forward. Poor filtration can result in debris and additional matter mixing with the air and gasoline, creating more work for the engine, and thus a higher expenditure of gasoline, lower KPG, and higher CO2 emissions.

It is recommended to change your air filter every 15,000 to 20,000 km, and certain driving conditions like dusty roads can make even more frequent changes necessary. An easy rule of thumb for knowing whether it’s time to replace a filter is to check whether you can see light when looking through it. If so, you’re in the clear. You can also consult your manual for recommended mileage between replacements.

Save Fuel by Taking a Load Off

Storage is super useful when you’re using it; when you’re not, take that thing off your roof!

You’ll be saving about 2% to 8% in city driving, 6% to 17% on the highway, and 10% to 25% at highway speeds. That means saving between $68 to $150/year, and 60-150 lbs of CO2! Not too shabby.

Logically, anything that creates drag is inefficient, and while other factors like wind affect the amount of drag created, rear-mount cargo boxes or trays reduce fuel economy by much less—only 1% or 2% in city driving and 1% to 5% on the highway.

Even storing extra stuff inside your vehicle is not a great idea, with an average of 2% reduction in efficiency for every 100lb of weight, and an even greater reduction in small vehicles.

Do You Really Need To Idle?

NRCAN recommends that if you are idling for any more than 60 seconds, fuel efficiency would be lower, and emissions would be greater left idling than by turning off and restarting your vehicle. What's more, by burning 1 litre of gasoline, 2.3kg of CO2 is produced. Idling for 10 minutes will produce 1.15kg of CO2. If we assume that a driver in January drives to work 5 days a week and chooses to warm up/idle their vehicle each of those days during the month (20 days), 10 minutes of idling will produce 23kg of CO2 and 5 minutes of idling will produce 11.5kg of CO2 - all in one month!

For someone driving to work every day, 10 minutes of idling will produce 92kg of CO2 emissions during the winter months and 276kg of CO2 emissions for a whole year. Not to mention the savings of about $70/year on gas.

Although vehicle idling is a common practice in the winter months, it is unnecessary and results in reduced fuel efficiency and increased GHG emissions. Precisely, vehicle idling warms only the engine and not other parts of the car. The best way to warm up the rest is by driving it. Today, multigrade oils can work at very cold and warm temperatures. Therefore, idling your car might not benefit you in any way.

For example, if Canadians avoided idling for 3 minutes every day, CO2 could be reduced by 1.4 million tonnes annually. This would be saving about 630 million litres of fuel.


Lower Fuel Consumption by Checking Your Air Pressure

Just as important as the kinds of tires you use is the amount of pressure inside of them. Tires naturally lose pressure on a regular basis, and as a result, experts estimate that about 25% of cars on the road are driving on under-inflated tires. The price of under-inflation is a 1% fuel reduction for every 3 PSI (pounds per square inch) of pressure under the recommended level, saving you a cent on every gallon.

For example, if a vehicle requires inflation of 35 PSI, a drop of inflation to 28 PSI will result in a 2.5% reduction in fuel efficiency. A 2.5% increase in fuel economy for a car with an estimated 60 kpg, achieves a savings of about $20/year. In terms of global warming, you are keeping 150lbs of CO2 out of the atmosphere.

At least once a month, make sure your tire pressure is set properly to save fuel. To know what your car’s recommended PSI is, check on the tire itself, or else on the edge of the car door or doorframe.

Oil Up That Eco-Friendly Car

When aiming for fuel efficiency, low viscosity engine oils are significant contributors to achieving that goal. Viscosity is a fluid’s resistance to flow. Lower viscosity oil reduces friction, improves efficiency, and thus increases fuel economy. By purchasing the right kind of motor oil, you can improve gas mileage by 1-2%, which is a sweet deal for something you must buy anyway! To give some real-world examples, a 1% increase in fuel economy for a car with an estimated 60 kpg, low viscosity oil achieves a savings of about $8/year. In terms of global warming, you are keeping 60lbs of CO2 out of the atmosphere.

To make the best purchase you can, check for the phrase “Energy Conserving” on the label, which is your guarantee of friction-reducing additives that keep things running smoothly.

Your car’s engine prefers a certain kind of oil to run at its best, so get it what it wants.

Check your owner’s manual to see what quality and viscosity are best for your vehicle and be sure to change your oil at the regularly recommended intervals to preserve optimal fuel economy. Newer engines have better finishes that prevent engine wear from occurring because of lower viscosity oils. However, an older engine without as tight a tolerance or as high a surface finish is more susceptible to wear and therefore is best used with the recommended conventional oil. Engines that will be exposed to extreme temperatures are also better off with standard oil viscosity.

Why are gas prices rising? Why are gas prices falling? These are questions we hear on a regular basis. Gas prices are affected by many factors. Here’s a breakdown of some of them.

Gas Taxes

Taxes are one of the largest components of fuel prices in Canada. In 2017, Canadians paid an average of 27.6 cents of tax on every litre of gasoline. This represents almost $14 on a typical 50-litre fill-up (excluding sales tax).

Gas taxes vary significantly by province and in some cases by city. Some cities have a municipal fuel tax, so that certainly creates regional differences in pump prices. And some areas have carbon taxes and levies that affect gas prices.

Provincial Excise Tax - $0.145

Carbon Tax - $0.100

Transit Tax - $0.000

Provincial Sales Tax - $0.000

Federal Excise Tax - $0.100

Federal Sales Tax - $0.063

Total Tax - $0.408

Tax-On-Tax - $0.017

Crude Oil

Crude oil is a globally traded commodity and is the base product used to refine gasoline and diesel fuel. As Canadian producers, we have no influence over world crude oil prices because our domestic crude oil production is a small fraction of the total global production.

Crude oil prices are influenced by changes in global supply and demand, current inventory levels, and geopolitical events.

Wholesale Gasoline

Like crude oil, wholesale gasoline is bought and sold on commodity markets. And because gasoline is a commodity that flows freely between Canada and the US, Canadian wholesale prices (the prices retailers pay) are tied closely to US commodity prices.

Because of this close tie to the US commodity prices, any significant disruption in supply in the US, a market 10 times the size of our Canadian market, can impact wholesale prices in Canada as well.

Refining And Marketing Costs

This portion of the price covers all the operation costs, like the refining cost (refining crude oil into gasoline), the transportation and distribution charges, and all marketing and operational expenses at the station.

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