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How to Get the Most Out of Your Fuel

The rising cost of fuel has made fuel efficiency top of mind for drivers and car buyers. Natural Resources Canada put together a Fuel Consumption Guide in 2014 to help Canadians maximize their fuel efficiency and minimize their fuel consumption.

Here are driving and maintenance tips, as compiled by Natural Resources Canada, to help you save money and reduce your vehicle’s impact on the environment. Don’t forget to also consult your owner’s manual as this will contain specific information about how to drive and maintain your vehicle for optimum performance and efficiency.

Driving tips

  • Accelerate gently: The harder you accelerate, the more fuel you use. In the city, where about half of the fuel you consume is used to accelerate your vehicle, you can save as much as 15 percent by pressing the pedal gently. Imagine an open cup of coffee on your dashboard - don't spill it!

  • Maintain a steady speed: You will not only consume less fuel but also help enhance traffic flow, minimize emissions and enjoy safer driving conditions. Use cruise control for highway driving, where conditions permit, to maintain a steady speed and optimize your fuel savings.

  • Anticipate traffic: Hard braking and rapid acceleration burn more fuel and are unsafe. Drive defensively and watch ahead for changes in traffic flow. When possible, leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you.

  • Avoid high speeds: The faster a vehicle travels above 80 km/h, the more fuel it consumes. For example, a vehicles uses about 20 percent more fuel to travel at 120 km/h than to travel at 100 km/h. Slow down for safer and more fuel-efficient driving.

  • Coast to decelerate: By anticipating slowdowns and removing your foot from the accelerator as early as possible, you can decrease your speed and conserve fuel. Most vehicles today have fuel-injection systems that automatically shut off the flow of fuel to the engine when the accelerator is released, so take advantage by coasting.

  • Don't idle unnecessarily: If you are going to be stopped for more than 60 seconds - when parked - turn the engine off.

  • Use air conditioning sparingly: Due to the extra load on the engine, air conditioning can increase your vehicle's fuel consumption by 20 percent. Roll down your windows when city driving, or use your vehicle's flow-through ventilation on the highway.

  • Lighten your load: Roof and bicycle racks decrease your vehicle's aerodynamics and heavy items in your trunk add weight, causing your vehicle to burn more fuel. Take only what you need.

  • Make one long trip instead of several short ones: Separate trips of less than 5 km do not allow a cold engine to reach its peak operating temperature, resulting in increased fuel consumption and emissions. Combine trips into one outing to save time, fuel and money.

Maintenance tips

  • Follow your vehicle’s recommended maintenance schedule. A poorly maintained vehicle may consume more fuel. It adversely affects performance, produces higher levels of emissions and could lead to expensive repairs and low resale value.

  • Check fluid levels as recommended. Check and change the engine oil, engine coolant, transmission fluid (automatic) and power-steering fluid according to the manufacturer’s recommendations in your owner’s manual.

  • Check your tires. Measure the inflation level of your tires once a month, preferably when they are cold. Tires under-inflated by just 56 kilopascals (8 pounds per square inch) can lose 15,000 km from their lifespan and increase your vehicle’s fuel consumption by up to 4 percent. To find your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure, look for the vehicle information placard on the inside edge of the driver’s door, on the doorjamb, in the glove box or on the fuel door, or check your owner’s manual.

By following these tips you’ll find that it’s a win-win situation – not only will you get a little more mileage on each tank of gas, but you’ll also help ensure that you’re reducing your vehicle’s impact on the environment.