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Everyone has likely been noticing the recent spike in gas prices, what with the current global situation. It got me thinking, have people been changing their patterns when they gas up?
The gas prices here in Vancouver fluctuate, I find that they are most expensive during the day, and the least expensive during the late evenings. I find that during the middle of the week, it's more expensive. During the weekend evenings, it's least expensive. When I talk about fluctuation in prices, the fluctuation is usually about a $0.03 to $0.10 difference (I'm talking per litre here, not per gallon!). For a 35 litre tank, this would be a $1.05 to $3.50 difference in price. I know it doesn't seem like much to even bother, but if you fill up often, that can add up.
My gas up patterns
I fill my tank up when it's at a 1/4 tank or less (which I really shouldn't do because that's bad for the car, according to my mechanic). When I gas up my car, I usually fill it up. I'm not sure why I have a habit of waiting until it's at 1/4 tank or less, though I think it could be because I have the perverse desire to see how many kilometres I can go on my car with the one tank of gas. My car averages 300km per tank of gas. Under extreme circumstances, I sometimes put just a little bit of gas in the tank and hope that the gas prices will decrease in the next few days. It's almost like.. gambling.
I know that my family and friends having been shifting their gassing up patterns recently because of the gasoline price spike, they get a little bit of gas, and tell themselves they will get more gas later at a lower price.
As for me, I usually get gas in the late evenings, around 9pm or so. The time I most dislike getting gas is in the mornings before work- that's when I find the gas prices are the highest, as well, getting gas usually makes me late for work!
When I visited Melbourne, Australia a few years ago, the gas patterns are very predictable, apparently- it always goes up on a certain day of the week, and goes down on a certain day of the week (I think my uncle, who lives in Melbourne, told me that it always drops on a Thursday).
When I was younger, I recall that my frugal mom would always intentionally drive to the other side of town to take advantage of the lower gas prices at the pump. I think it was about a $0.03 difference. She says she doesn't do that anymore, thankfully. It doesn't make sense to me, to waste gas to save money on gas. That's somewhat analogous to spending $500 on a wallet, when you don't have money to put in a wallet.
Some tips to save on gas:
- Lump up your errands– when I head out for errands, I have a strategy- I don't like going all across town for stuff (not just because of the fuel cost, but more so because I am inherently lazy). For example, I like to do my grocery shopping after work on my way home… I'm not much of a weekend grocery store shopper- I find the crowds a bit much on the weekends anyway.
- Don't drive- I know that this might not be possible for many people, but if you live in a public transit or bike friendly location, then try to incorporate that just once a week into your commute. One of my goals this year is to cycle to work (it's about a 30 minute ride). I'll start off with once a month, and then increase it to twice a month, and try once a week. I'll make sure to let you know how that goes (hopefully it won't be an epic FAIL).
- Stop driving like a maniac– Speeding your way in and out of traffic and being so aggressive isn't going to help anyone (not even yourself). Not only are you adding to the karmic imbalance in the world with road rage and aggressive driving, you are wasting gasoline. This matters to most, unless of course, you drive a Hummer and like driving aggressive.
- Get rid of the junk in your truck- That roof rack may make you look sporty and cool, but if you're not using it, it's just costing you more in the end. The same goes for heavy stuff in your trunk that you have been meaning to clean out. Sandy from yes I am cheap even goes so far as to want to take out the spare tire in her car (her boyfriend understandably wouldn't let her 🙂 )! You should definitely check out her list of gasoline saving tips.
- Maintain maintain maintain– Change your air filter, add some fuel stabilizer from time to time, remember to do your oil changes, check your tire pressure. I confess that am a culprit of not checking my tire pressure regularly.
- Switch your tires- If you're running on winter tires and it's spring or summer already, you're losing 10% fuel economy on your car.
- Air Conditioning or Windows Down?– I posted an article on whether air conditioning vs rolling your windows down is better for fuel economy.
- Check the gas prices– There's an app on the iPhone (I'm sure it's on Android and Blackberries too) that lets you know what the most recent gasoline price is and where there is cheap gas (around you).
Readers, I'm curious to hear about what your gas up patterns are like? Are you a “wait til the last minute” or “keep it full” kind of guy or girl? Do you try and wait until the cheapest time of the day or week to get gas?
How are the gas prices over in your neck of the woods? Here in Vancouver, it's at $1.25/L right now (we have a lot of taxes on our gas).
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