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Busting misconceptions about how to save money on gas as fuel prices continue to soar

Last Updated May 20, 2019 at 10:46 am PDT

(iStock Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As gas prices remain high around the Lower Mainland, you’re probably trying to come up with creative ways to save money and reduce the pain at the pump. An expert at BCAA is  breaking down some of the common myths and truths about your car.

Tire pressure and A/C

You may have heard that over-inflating your tires can help you save a buck or two on fuel. However, Josh Smythe with BCAA says not everything you hear is true.

“There’s a big misconceptions that if you over-inflate your tires, that you have a better rolling resistance,” Josh Smythe with BCAA explains. “There is a marginal increase in fuel economy regarding that, but what happens is that money you’ve saved is now being spent on tires that are prematurely wearing.”

Smythe says the recommended pressure is what you should aim to have your tires at.

Meantime, going easy on the air conditioning can save you some money if you turn it off enough.

“The air conditioner does save you, again, a minimal amount of fuel because it is robbing power from the engine that could be delivered to the road. So if you’re to turn the  air conditioning off, in the long term, you would save a little bit more.”

Gas prices hit record highs around Metro Vancouver several weeks ago. The region is home to highest prices in the country right now.

Your car and fuel

It’s recommended you get cheap gas whenever you see it, instead of driving around to specifically look for it. When you do stop to fuel up, you may be wondering whether putting a higher grade of fuel will help you with savings, but that may not be the outcome.

“The high performance gas has got more to do with the type of engine and the long term life of it,” Smythe explains. “It really has no savings in gas. Of course, when it comes to the cost of the gas, what little bit of difference it may make is absorbed in the price.”

Again, he suggests you should stick with the grade that is recommended for your vehicle.

“The grade suggested for your engine is based on the performance of your engine, and octane is relative to that,” he adds.

Smythe also points out that shifting from a lower octane when your vehicle needs a higher one can have “an ill-effect” on your engine in the long term.

On the topic of driving around to sniff out the cheapest price around, Smythe says you may end up saving slightly by finding a deal, but you’ll still be wasting some of the gas you already have.

“I, myself, I have a particular couple of favourite gas stations I go to because I know they’re generally cheaper than the surrounding stations,” he says. “I find myself, when I’m going past them, ‘now’s the time to put the gas in.’ Don’t wait until you’re empty to get it in if you’ve found it cheaper. By all means, top-up.”

Automatic versus manual and other myths

If your vehicle has an automatic transmission, Smythe says you could be saving a little more than your manual transmission-driving counterparts.

“Automatic transmissions shift a little bit more effectively and a little bit more efficiently,” he explains. “The RPMs don’t fluctuate up and down as quickly and as often as it would with a stick. It is more of a computerized control as opposed to our driving habits will cause more fuel consumption in a manual.”

The Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation says this summer, drivers in the Lower Mainland will pay almost 54 cents in taxes per litre of gas.

Remember, you can always find current gas prices on Twitter at @1130gastracker, or on air on NEWS 1130 throughout the day.