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4 entries from May 2012

Tracking your Fuel Consumption

Fuel Consumption
Photo: iStockphoto

As you can imagine, getting the best mileage from our vehicles is a passion here at PumpTalk. And one of the best ways to monitor your vehicle's fuel economy is to consistently take the time to track your fuel usage. Tracking your fuel use may require some initial planning and discipline to get started, but - like getting used to a good exercise program - it's a great habit to cultivate.

Why take the time to track your fuel consumption? Here are just a few benefits:

  • Keeping track of how often you fill up - and how much it costs - makes it easier to accurately budget for gas.
  • Charting your kilometres per litre makes you more aware of how your driving habits (driving speed, time spent idling  going through drive-through’s, lugging potting soil around) affect your fuel consumption.
  • Getting the big picture on your weekly fuel consumption helps you evaluate your vehicle's fuel economy over time - so when you're ready to buy a new vehicle, you'll know what kind of fuel economy you can expect.

Continue reading "Tracking your Fuel Consumption" »

Long Weekend Gas Pricing

Gas Prices

As the first long weekend of the warm weather days is fast approaching, we thought we would take the time to comment on the regularly occurring question that we receive: “Why do gas prices appear to go up right before a long weekend?”. This question usually comes up before every long weekend we have. We have written several posts about this topic and we wanted to enlighten our readers about it again, as the Victoria Day long weekend is right around the corner. 

We already know that gas prices are affected by a number of factors including cost of crude and the cost of gasoline at the wholesale level. This was the subject of our last post on gas pricing: “Gas Pricing: What Factors Affect the Prices You See At The Pump”. We also have discussed how powerful an effect local competition has on gas prices too in our PumpTalk video: “Why Do Gasoline Prices Go Up and Down?”  

Now, the question at hand – Why do gas prices seem to go up right before a long holiday weekend? Back in June, our post, “Dispelling the myth about long weekend gas price hikes” linked to a report that was released by M.J. Ervin & Associates (a division of the Kent Group). This report reviewed pricing data around long weekends in Canada from the present, back to 2006. In the report, Michael Ervin concluded that: 

    “The aggregated results indicate that week-over-week retail prices are no more likely to increase during the week immediately before a holiday. In fact, our findings revealed that the number of price increases during the week of a holiday was slightly less than that of weeks not related to holidays.” 

You can read the full report here: Report: Holiday Weekends and Fuel Price Increases: Fact or Myth?

The press release can be found here: Holiday Weekends and Fuel Price Increases: Fact or Myth?

We hope this helps, and as always, we welcome comments and feedback from our readers. PumpTalk was created to facilitate the discussion, so let’s keep the conversation going!

- Julie S.

Driving Tips That Could Save Your Life

Night Driving
Photo: iStockphoto

We post a lot of driving tips here on PumpTalk - everything from how to buckle up properly to what kind of shoes to wear in the car. Most safe driving tips are pretty much common sense, but every now and then, I come across tips that are either news to me OR that address a driving practice that I'd never really thought about. And then I pass these tips on to you! Here are a few new things I learned about driving this week.

1. Your hands should be at 9 and 3, not 10 and 2.

According to this article in the Toronto Star, an appalling number of drivers have only one hand (or occasionally, just their knees) on their steering wheel when they drive. But for those of us who are keen to keep both hands on the wheel, it turns out that the correct hand position is 9 and 3 - not the 10 and 2 that most of us learned in Driver's Ed. It turns out that the 9 and 3 position not only offers greater control of the wheel, but it can also help protect your hands and face if your air bag deploys.

2. When waiting to turn left, keep your wheels straight ahead until you're actually turning.

That way, if you happen to get rear-ended, your car will move forward instead of potentially veering into oncoming traffic. This tip makes sense but I confess that I often have my wheels turned when I'm waiting for my chance to turn left - I'll definitely try to keep my wheels straight from now on. Making a left turn may seem like old hat but it's worth checking out this article for a run down on proper left turning procedure.

3. When driving at night, keep your eyes on the line.

In the city where there's plenty of light, this tip doesn't really apply - but when driving more rural roads at night, look towards the white line marking the outside edge of the traffic lane instead of directly at the headlights of oncoming vehicles. That way you won't be blinded by the light, so to speak, and you'll be able to react more quickly should you need to.

Are these tips news to you - or are they already a part of your regular driving routine? What safe driving tips have you recently discovered? For more safe driving tips, check out the rest of the posts in our Driving archive.

- Rose R.

Tire Traction and the Contact Patch

Tire Traction
Photo: John Mahler

We at PumpTalk really enjoy hearing from experts and passing their knowledge on to our readers – especially when it comes to driving! Our Ultra 94 team (Ultra 94 is our premium gasoline brand) has resident experts on their Facebook page who post to the page and offer performance driving advice.

There are two posts which caught our eye here at PumpTalk:  The Contact Patch post series by John Mahler.

If you’ve ever been curious about how the “rubber meets the road”… literally… you’ll probably appreciate these two posts by John Mahler on the “Contact Patch”. They explain specifically how your tires react with the pavement and create traction, along with how that traction changes under wet conditions.   

John Mahler certainly has a seasoned history in the driving world. In 1986, Mahler entered the motorsport world and has been actively driving or instructing at 41 tracks in Canada, the U.S.A., and Europe since then. John Mahler began writing for the Toronto Star Wheels section about tires from inception - 25 years ago. This grew into the Tire Guy column over 15 years ago, fondly known as "Tire Talk", which continues today. John Mahler also teaches advanced driver training courses. With over 27 years of experience, the chief instructor for Apex Driver Training runs a program as well as corporate driving events on track.

Head on over to the Ultra 94 Facebook page where you can read his posts:

You can also visit our Ultra 94 Facebook fan page for more performance driving tips. Let us know what you think of the posts!

- Julie S.