Winter Driving : 10 ways to cut winter driving costs
It costs more to drive in the winter compared to other times of year.
Fuel consumption goes up at least 20 per cent because it takes longer to warm up your car and get the engine up and running.
Winter tires cost at least $1,000 for a set of four for a mid-sized car and winter driving means you’re using three times as much windshield washer fluid.
If you add in the cost of special gas, maintenance and winter wiper blades, Wheels.ca columnist Gerry Malloy says, drivers are looking at a “30 per cent premium” to get their car through the winter months.
Winter Driving Tips
1. Don’t buy ‘special’ winter gas.
There’s no reason to switch to gas that purportedly helps you in winter driving. Jim Davidson the author of 75 Ways to Save Gas explains your car is most efficient on the type of gas it was meant to use. Also, since you’re burning more fuel it’s important to keep your tank half full to avoid roadside assistance if your gas tank runs empty.
2. The warm-up myth
You don’t have to warm-up your car longer than 1 minute. For newer cars all you need is 30 seconds and you’re ready to hit the road. If the interior takes 10 minutes to warm up on the road it will take 30 per cent longer to warm up while idling. Davidson says idling is “wrong on so many levels.” Bad for the environment and it wastes money. Idling your car when it’s cold is also doing damage to your engine, which over time is possibly reducing the life of your car. If possible park indoors. A car warmed up from –4 C will burn less gas to get to a comfortable level than one from –30C.
3. Proper climate control
Leaving your defroster will burn 20 per cent more fuel. Your car is using AC to remove moisture from the air so the windows don’t fog up and that is burning more gas. When your window is clear, switch off the defroster and go back to the auto setting in your car.
4. Clean junk out of your trunk
According to CAA for every 45 kg. of extra weight in your vehicle for winter driving, fuel consumption increases by 2 per cent. Clean out all the extra stuff in the back seat and in your trunk to improve fuel efficiency.
5. Buy windshield washer fluid cheaply
The most expensive place to buy windshield washer fluid is at a gas station where a regular size jug of all-season can cost you more than $6. Davidson recommends buying the fluid from larger stores like Canadian Tire, Walmart and Costco where you can find considerable savings.
6. Get a winter tune-up
Fall is the best time to invest in a winter tune-up. Garages generally offer specials and the advantage is that when a car is properly tuned-up it burns less fuel.
7. Check Tire Pressure
Remember to check tire pressure frequently, as cold weather causes your tires to run a little flatter. You can find tire pressure information in your owner’s manual. Davidson says tires with low pressure are burning at least 5 per cent more fuel. If a tank of gas normally lasts you 400 km. in the winter, with improperly inflated tires it means you will be going to the station at only 380 km.
8. Use winter tires
Depending on the speed and the weather, the braking distance of winter tires can be up to 25 per cent shorter or two vehicle lengths compared to all-season tires. Silvana Aceto of CAA, points out that winter tires will increase your chances of avoiding of avoiding a fender bender. It’s not just safety. Winter tires will save by giving you better traction in the snow. The upfront cost can be steep.For example, a set of four Michelin X-Ice tires on an Acura TL cost is $1,200 and $1,700 with the rims. But they will last you four seasons and add an extra year in the life of your all season tires.
9. Being careful pays off
Everyone speeds a little bit. But in the long run it’s costing a premium to get to your destination a few minutes early. Davidson says the optimal speed to drive for fuel efficiency is 93 km/h. “No matter what car you drive.” Ever 10 km/h over that you’re burning 10 per cent more gas. So if you’re driving 123 km/h on the highway you’re burning 30 per cent more gas going the same distance.
10. Emergency roadside assistance
The likelihood of your car breaking down is greater in the winter. A membership for emergency roadside assistance starts as low as $70 a year. Coverage usually includes emergency help when your car runs out of fuel or needs a tow. Try a CAA membership, Costco Roadside Assistance, Canadian Tire Roadside Assistance or GM Roadside assistance to see what suits you.
For additional tips on Winter Driving, click here.