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14 tips for reducing your car expenses

May 23, 2023

The cost of owning a vehicle is rising due to many factors, including inflation, pump prices, interest rates, inventory shortages and unprecedented dealership delivery times. But you can save a lot by changing your driving habits and making informed choices. Here are a few examples of what you can do.  

Shift to fuel-efficient driving techniques

1. Reduce your speed

The faster a car is moving, the more air resistance it encounters. As a result, the engine needs to work harder (and burn more fuel) to maintain the car's speed. Generally speaking, every kilometre over 100 km/h increases gas consumption by 1%.

2. Accelerate gently and maintain a steady speed

When your car is stopped, it takes a lot of power to get it up to the speed you want. That's why accelerating during city driving accounts for 60% of your gas consumption.2 If you're going from one traffic light or stop to another, think about limiting how much you accelerate. Accelerating from 0 km/h to 50 km/h consumes 4 times as much gas as accelerating from 0 km/h to 25 km/h.

This is also why sudden dips and bursts can be expensive. If you continually increase and decrease your speed between 75 km/h and 85 km/h every 18 seconds, your fuel consumption can increase by more than 20%2. When driving on rural roads or on the highway, where conditions permit, turn on the cruise control to keep moving at a steady pace.

3. Open the windows or turn on the AC, depending on where you are

When you drive in town, roll the windows down. This can reduce your fuel consumption by 20%3. On the highway, do the opposite. Having open windows on the highway makes your car less aerodynamic, which can lead to even more fuel consumption.4

4. Don't idle 

Turn off the engine if you have to stop the car for more than a minute, except when you're in traffic. A car with a 2-litre engine consumes about 1.2 litres of fuel for every hour it idles.1 In the winter, don't keep the car running just so you can have the heat on — you'll have plenty of time before your car's cabin temperature starts to drop. In the summer, park in the shade and open the windows as soon as you get in the car.

5. Take the most eco-friendly route   

Several online trip planners now offer eco-friendly routing. They use artificial intelligence to estimate carbon emissions based on traffic, road incline and other variables, and then recommend the route that will lead to the lowest fuel consumption.5

Save at the pump

6. Compare gas prices with the realistic market price

CAA-Quebec's Gasoline Watch tool lets you compare the realistic price of gas (calculated based on the daily acquisition cost indicator and the average retail margin over the past year) with the average pump price in your region. If a gas station charges less than the average, then it's a good deal. But if it charges more than the realistic price, it's better to limit or postpone your gas purchases if possible.  

Keep your vehicle in good condition

7. Do regular maintenance on your vehicle  

If you forget to change the oil, clean a clogged air filter or replace a spark plug, the engine won't work properly and your car might guzzle up to 20% more fuel.6 Use the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil to reduce your fuel consumption by 1% to 2%.7

8. Keep your tires properly inflated 

Under-inflated tires wear out more quickly and create more resistance, which means they negatively impact efficiency. Tires that are underinflated by 4 psi (pounds per square inch) or more can increase fuel consumption by up to 2%.8 Inflate your tires to the proper tire pressure (as indicated on the inner side of the car door) and check the tire pressure once per month as well as before long road trips.

Choose the appropriate method of transportation

9. Leave your car at home 

Is it absolutely essential to use your car? Whenever possible, use other methods of transportation such as walking, cycling and public transit. That way, you won't have to spend money on gas and you can protect your car from unnecessary wear-and-tear

10. Choose a vehicle that fits your everyday needs 

The most eco-friendly choice is driving a vehicle twith the right size, engine power and features for your usual needs, not your occasional ones. Do you drive through the mountains and on poorly maintained roads often enough that you really need a vehicle with 4-wheel drive? Because, on average, this type of system increases your gas consumption by 1 L/100 km.9

11. Choose a fuel-efficient vehicle 

Gas-powered vehicles

Compare models by checking out automative review guides as well as the most recent edition of Natural Resources Canada's Fuel Consumption Guide. Depending on where you live and how often you travel, you may want a vehicle that is more fuel-efficient for city driving, highway driving or both. 

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and all-electric vehicles

On average, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and all-electric vehicles cost 10% to 20% less per month than comparable gas-powered vehicles. And this is after taking into account the cost of the lease or loan on the vehicle.10 Once the vehicle has been paid off, the energy and maintenance savings are about 37% (for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) and 75% (for all-electric vehicles) compared with equivalent gas-powered vehicles.

Adopt smart financial habits

12. Bundle your home and auto insurance

Ask your insurer if you can get a discount on your premium by bundling your home and auto insurance. At Desjardins Insurance, the Double Contract discount helps homeowners save up to 10% on their home insurance premium (up to 15% off for condo owners and tenants).

13. Sign up for Ajusto® 

AjustoMD 11 est un programme qui analyse vos habitudes et votre comportement au volant grâce aux capteurs de votre téléphone intelligent. Les données recueillies avec votre accord nous permettent de vous offrir une prime d’assurance auto davantage personnalisée. Un score basé sur certains critères liés à vos habitudes et à votre comportement vous est attribué. En maintenant un score de 61 ou plus – plus vous conduisez prudemment, plus votre score est élevé –, votre prime pourrait diminuer de 1 à 25 % 12. Et dès votre inscription, vous obtenez automatiquement 10 % de rabais pour les 6 premiers mois.

14. Use your BONUSDOLLARS® to pay your insurance premium

If you have a Desjardins credit card with BONUSDOLLARS®13, you can redeem your BONUSDOLLARS to pay some or all of your home and auto insurance premium.  Just log in to AccèsD to get started.  That way, you can take full advantage of what your Desjardins credit card has to offer.