Auto$mart Module 2: Behind the wheel
Point 1: Accelerate gently
Yep. It’s called the accelerator, or the gas pedal. But you might want to think of it as… the money pedal.
See, every time you push this pedal hard… it costs you money.
Fuel money. Because accelerating hard might be sort of fun but it can use up to 15% more fuel and that, my friends, is what they mean by false economy.
And when you take your foot off the money pedal, you pretty much need to put your foot on the brakes.
The harder you have to brake, the more money it costs you, too.
Ka-ching! Tires, brake shoes, pads, rotors, drums, suspension parts like shocks, springs, tie rod ends, ball joints, wheel bearings.
It is. So easy on the gas when starting up from a standing stopped position is more than just environmental responsibility.
Gentle acceleration is… well… money in the bank.
All right, let’s move on, on to point 2.
Auto$mart Point 2
Hey, we all know people who are “all over the place”. And they drive us nuts because they seem so… inefficient.
Well, having your speed all over the place is kind of like these people… inefficient.
First, it’s hard for those following you to judge distance and avoid negative interaction with you, as in… hitting you.
Second, it’s unbelievably inefficient for your wallet. Your engine is revving unnecessarily;
you’re on and off the brakes, causing wear on pads, rotors, shoes and drums;
you’re constantly upshifting and downshifting, putting unnecessary stress on your transmission and driveline…
not to mention the fact that you’re stressing yourself out for no good reason.
Third, and most important, driving at a steady speed saves money on fuel,
and is easier on the environment because you're burning less fuel… and putting fewer pollutants out your exhaust.
When you keep your speed even, you maximize your vehicle’s ability to use all the things that make it fuel-efficient:
everything from aerodynamics to efficient engines to great helpers like cruise control.
So get a rhythm going. Get a beat. Catch that groove. Drive steady, real steady. And listen to the sound… of money in the bank.
Got it? OK, awesome – here’s point 3.
Auto$mart Point 3
Hi. Today, I’m going to give you an amazing deal. I’m going to give you just one tip that could reduce your fuel consumption by 20% on the highway.
No strings attached. Yep. 20%. All you have to do… is be smart.
Let me explain. On the highway, simply slowing down from 120 km/h to 100 km/h saves you 20% on fuel.
A wonderful bonus when you consider that there are a lot of other reasons why driving at high speeds is just, basically, a very bad deal.
Your reaction time is compromised when everything is going quickly
Your vehicle may be stressed to the max, putting tires and suspension, for instance, at their outer limits
It is generally very, very illegal to drive over the speed limit, and the faster you go,
the more certain you’ll be saying goodbye to car keys, license, vehicle, and any kind of affordable insurance rates.
But there’s another way to think about it, too.
Remember we talked about “the money pedal”?
Well, you're pouring fuel through your car’s engine at a huge rate when you speed, especially because, today,
cars are set up to be most efficient between 50 and 80 km per hour.
Here’s the bottom line. By not speeding and by adopting the other fuel-efficient driving techniques, the average Canadian driver,
that’s you, can keep $500 in his or her pocket every year (right, your pocket), and reduce vehicle wear and tear,
and greenhouse gases and other nasty emissions which compromise our environment.
So, use your head, and your skills. Keep the speed down, for all kinds of good reasons.
It’s safer, makes more sense and… it’s money in the bank.
Still with us? Ok, on to point 4.
Auto$mart Point 4
You can predict the future! You can be master of time, space, and dimension!
No. Really. You can.
By studying the clues and cues offered by the traffic ahead of you – things like:
A light ahead turning yellow, or even the walk signal beginning to flash
Brake lights on the horizon, not just right in front of you, but as much as half a kilometre ahead or more
Evidence of clumping of cars ahead
A sudden change in weather conditions, like the sudden onset of rain, sleet or snow
Signs pointing to construction activity or detours
All these things can tell you key things like whether to gradually slow down, whether to change lanes well in advance,
whether to accelerate or maintain your current speed.
And all this is possible because you focus on the future – seconds or minutes in front of you…
and metres or kilometres in front of you. It’s a skill you can learn and master.
Your anticipation saves you stress, saves wear and tear on all the running parts of your vehicle, and saves you from using fuel unnecessarily.
So, by anticipating, you can answer this question: “What’s in my future?”
Simple. Money in the bank.
We’re in the home stretch – now on to point 5.
Auto$mart Point 5
One of the hardest things to do behind the wheel is… well… nothing.
But doing nothing can save you money, can make your vehicle last longer, and can help the environment, too. Let’s talk about it.
Usually when you drive, you’re either accelerating, maintaining current speed, or braking in order to get to a standing stop again, right?
But there’s one other technique, and that technique is called coasting.
Remember when you were young and had your first bike? You’d pedal like mad… then you’d get tired… and you’d coast.
You’d let your body rest until it was time to go fast again. When you coasted, you gradually lost speed because of wind resistance and friction.
With a vehicle, coasting means you plan the phases of each segment you drive, whether it’s a block or a few hundred kilometres.
You accelerate, gradually.
You maintain your speed, with small adjustments.
When you know you will be stopping in the future, you coast, allowing the vehicle to slow down.
Then, you brake. And you’ll find that you brake less because you’ve slowed down by coasting.
Most vehicles today are equipped with fuel-injection systems that automatically shut off fuel to the engine when the accelerator is released.
So coasting – doing nothing – means you’re employing good thinking and driving skills, and using the technology to help you save fuel.
Do you hear that sound? It’s the sound of coasting. The sound of nothing… except money in the bank.