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Driving tips

Easy ways to save on the road

There are practical things that all motorists can do to ease the cost of driving

Published April 9, 2013

Ontario drivers are overtaxed and financially penalized for the privilege of driving a vehicle. The average driver can’t alter the taxation system, but there are practical things that all motorists can do to ease the financial burden of owning and operating a vehicle in Ontario.

Here are 10 simple, effective ideas to help drivers save money.

Improve fuel efficiency New models offer more fuel-efficient engines and better gas mileage than older models. More than a dozen cars and light trucks now get 40 to 50 m.p.g., with hybrids getting much more. Consider a hybrid, a hybrid-electric, an all-electric or diesel. Maybe it’s time to trade in that gas guzzler for a more economical model.

Consider insurance costs Before purchasing or leasing a new vehicle, research the cost of the insurance premiums. Insurance premiums vary wildly among different brands and models. Factors such as where you live and work, how likely a vehicle is to be stolen and how expensive it will be to do body repairs are just some of the details used in calculating premiums.

Shop insurance rates Your insurance broker isn’t necessarily going to offer to find you the cheapest rates, and so it’s up to you to do some comparison shopping. By aggressively shopping insurance rates, motorists can save hundreds or thousands of dollars per year. Take advantage of senior citizen discounts. Combine car and home insurance (with the same provider) to realize additional savings. Group insurance is another potential money-saving option.

Choose regular gasoline over premium Experts agree there is virtually no difference between the two in automobile performance or gas mileage, although there certainly is in price! If a vehicle runs the same on a lower grade (regular) gas, there is no sense in switching to premium. Of course, some high-performance engines require premium gas and some manufacturers recommend it (If unsure, check your owner’s manual or contact your service adviser).

Maintain a clean driving record  An occasional traffic ticket may not affect your insurance premiums a whole lot, but several tickets within a few years (or multiple traffic accidents) will result in higher insurance premiums. Reduce your traffic tickets and auto collisions and watch your insurance rates drop.

Maintain your maintenance Frequent oil changes, regular maintenance and proper tire inflation can reduce gas consumption by as much as 25 per cent. These maintenance procedures will also reduce operating expenses over the long haul. For information about scheduled maintenance and general car-care advice, consult your owner’s manual.

Become a better driver  This means planning trips in advance to avoid potential traffic jams, avoiding excessive idling (i.e. in driveways or in fast-food drive-through lanes). Avoid speeding and erratic driving; maintain speeds limits; accelerate gently; use the air conditioner sparingly, and use High Occupancy Vehicle lanes whenever possible.

Take fewer trips Consider telecommuting (working from home) if your employer permits it. Check out car pooling and ride share options. When grocery shopping, keeping appointments or visiting clients, group your destinations together to avoid making repeat trips.

Alternate transportation Why not take public transit, ride a bike or walk if those options are feasible? For those who live in rural areas, consider using GO Transit or a subway when attending a cultural event downtown. Saving just $20 per week in gas will save you more than $1,000 in a single year.

Remove snow tires  Snow tires are typically bigger and have deeper treads than regular tires, and they use more fuel. As soon as the snow is gone for good, replace the snows with summer or all-season tires.

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