Top 5 Factors That Reduce Your MPG: Avoid These to Save on Fuel Costs

Top 5 Factors That Reduce Your MPG: Avoid These To Save on Fuel Costs

The rising cost of fuel is a common concern for consumers and businesses in Canada. As of August 24, 2023, data from the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) indicates that the average price of gasoline across the country ist 166.8 cents per litre

Various factors contribute to the high price of gasoline, with the most significant factor being Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The latest resolution of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to lower oil supply also contributed to the increase in prices. 

Considering the escalating price of gasoline, optimizing fuel economy in any vehicle you drive is more critical than ever. However, cars in Canada aren’t very fuel efficient. Based on data from 2017, the country’s average vehicle ranked last in fuel efficiency

Since the last available data, Canada’s ranking in fuel economy may have changed. In this article, Diamond & Diamond Law will highlight the importance of fuel economy and Canada’s initiatives to improve its ranking. We’ll also tell you about the steps you can take to maximize fuel efficiency, as well as the things you should avoid.

Key Takeaways

  • Fuel economy is directly proportional to miles per gallon (MPG). Therefore, the higher the MPG rating, the better the vehicle’s fuel economy. 
  • Regarding fuel efficiency, being aware of the expenses associated with each trip you make in your vehicle is important. 
  • Improving your driving habits can enhance your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

Understanding Car Fuel Efficiency and Its Importance

What is fuel efficiency and why is it important? 

At its core, fuel efficiency refers to the distance a car can travel with a particular amount of fuel. It’s also commonly referred to as fuel economy. 

In the US, a car’s fuel economy is measured by miles per gallon (MPG). Specifically, this measurement indicates how many miles a vehicle can travel on a single gallon of fuel. A higher MPG rating means that the car uses less energy as you’re driving, which also means that it’s more fuel efficient. 

In Canada, however, the primary measurement for a car’s fuel efficiency is expressed as litres per 100 kilometres (L/100km). Essentially, it tells you how much fuel a vehicle consumes to travel 100 kilometres. A higher L/100km value means that the car needs more energy to cover the same distance, which makes it less fuel-efficient. 

Cars with better fuel economy generally consume less fuel to travel a particular distance. The advantages of fuel efficient vehicles are the following: 

Reduced environmental impact

While a car that’s fuel efficient doesn’t consume a lot of gas, how does it help to reduce negative impacts on the environment? 

Car exhaust smoke typically contains carbon dioxide and other gases that pollute the air and the environment. Each gas a vehicle uses emits around 20 to 505 pounds of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. 

When a vehicle consumes less fuel, it emits less smoke from its exhaust. Therefore, if your vehicle is fuel efficient, it will reduce poisonous gas emissions, which can lead to less atmospheric pollution. 

If you want to reduce the impact of greenhouse gases and the severity of global warming, you should drive a car that’s fuel efficient. 

Greater economic benefits

If a vehicle is fuel efficient, you’ll be able to save a substantial amount of money. Better gas mileage means that the vehicle is using less fuel. In turn, this means that you don’t have to refuel your car as often, allowing you to save on gas expenses. Over time, these savings can accumulate and reduce the overall operating cost of the vehicle. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides an example of how much money a person can save if their car is fuel efficient. 

Consider a car that drives about 15,000 miles per year, with 30 MPG, and the cost of fuel being $3.60. This car can save $900 on fuel every year compared to a car with only 20 MPG. This means that the 30-MPG car will allow you to save about $4,500 in five years. 

In Canada, Energy Education points out that highly efficient vehicles have the potential to yield lifetime savings of more than $10,000. If you’re looking for the most fuel efficient car in Canada, use the fuel consumption ratings search tool to compare the fuel economy information of various vehicles.

Increased energy security

Globally, Canada is the sixth-largest producer of crude oil and the fifth-largest producer of natural gas. However, Canada still depends on imported oil for nearly half of its domestic oil consumption. 

Over half the oil used in Quebec and Ontario comes from foreign suppliers. Improving a car’s fuel economy may decrease the country’s reliance on foreign oil imports. In turn, this will increase Canada’s energy security. 

Despite being known as one of the world’s largest oil and gas producers, the country’s fuel prices depend on global and regional market forces. While the impact on Canada’s gross domestic product will be minimal because of its energy production, businesses and consumers will bear the costs. 

However, individuals and companies are less susceptible to sudden gasoline price surges when vehicles have better fuel efficiency (in other words, when they consume less fuel). This can eventually help boost the country’s overall energy security. 

Canada’s Government Initiatives for Car Fuel Economy

According to the latest data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), Canada sold approximately 2 million new light-duty vehicles (LDVs) in 2019. These vehicles showed an average fuel consumption of about 8.9 litres of gasoline per 100 kilometres (L/100km). 

That’s generally higher than all the levels seen in other major LDV markets. The upside is that, in the past several years, Canada has been actively working on initiatives to improve fuel economy. 

Below, we’ve highlighted some of the measures that Canada has taken to improve fuel efficiency.

Emission standards and test procedures

Under the Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations, Canada established greenhouse gas (GHG) emission limits, requiring a five percent annual reduction in CO2-equivalent emissions per mile for new LDVs. These standards apply to new passenger vehicles and light trucks for model years ranging from 2017 to 2025. 

However, the new fleet average for GHG limits have become more stringent for light trucks. It requires improving CO2 equivalent emissions performance by 3.5 percent annually from 2017 to 2021. This emission requirement has increased by five percent per year from 2022 to 2025. 

It’s also worth noting that Canada’s fuel economy policy is closely aligned with the federal standards set by the US EPA. Canadian auto manufacturers utilize the US Federal Test Procedure (FTP), which uses a 2-cycle testing process. 

However, for vehicle models from 2015 and onwards, Canada transitioned to a five-cycle testing procedure, which resembles the one that the US has used since 2008. The improved testing method can still assess city and highway speed conditions. 

The five-cycle testing captures typical driving conditions and styles more accurately. It evaluates emissions from driving a vehicle in cold weather, using air conditioners, and travelling at higher speeds with increased acceleration and braking. 

Financial incentive programs

The increased adoption of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) is another way to promote fuel economy in Canada. ZEVs are more energy-efficient than conventional engine systems found in older cars. By operating ZEVs, you can save up to 75 percent on fuel costs and reduce tailpipe emissions. 

Both the federal and provincial governments in Canada offer incentives to encourage more consumers and businesses to switch to ZEVs. 

Federal incentives

At the federal level, there are two programs that provide incentives for buying or leasing ZEVs in Canada, with eligibility based on the type of vehicle. 

Launched on July 11, 2022, the iMHZEV program provides point-of-sale incentives of up to $200,000 to Canadian businesses and organizations for the purchase or lease of eligible medium-and-heavy-duty ZEVs. These vehicles mainly encompass commercial options, such as cargo, trucks, shuttles, and vans. 

The other is the iZEV Program, which was launched in May 2019. It offers up to $5,000 in point-of-sale incentives to individuals and businesses buying or leasing eligible light-duty ZEVs. These vehicles typically include personal transportation options, such as cars, SUVs, and light pickup trucks. 

Provincial and territorial incentives

Several provinces and territories offer incentives and rebates to encourage the following:

  • Purchasing new or used ZEVs
  • Installing residential chargers
  • Covering shipping costs for getting a used ZEV

These provincial incentives can be combined with federal incentives. It’s best to check the website of your province or territory to get the most current information about the incentives available in your area. 

Here’s a list of provinces and territories that currently offer ZEV-related incentives:

  • British Columbia (BC)
  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Yukon

Rebate of excise tax on fuel-inefficient vehicles

Under the Excise Tax Act (ETA), Canada imposes an excise tax or green levy on vehicles that aren’t fuel efficient. 

The ETA applies to passenger vehicles with a weighted average fuel usage of 13 or more litres per 100 kilometres. The excise tax rate is calculated based on the weighted fuel consumption following the vehicle’s fuel-efficiency ratings

A rebate for the excise tax on fuel-inefficient vehicles may also be available for specially equipped vans. However, the Canada Revenue Agency may only pay back the amount equivalent to the excise tax paid to the first final consumer of a van that’s not fuel efficient. 

Education and awareness campaigns

Canada has various education events and awareness campaigns to promote fuel economy. The goal is to inform and motivate Canadian businesses and consumers to make more fuel-efficient choices. 

In particular, the Government of Canada focuses on increasing awareness in the following areas as part of its 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan

  • Transition to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs)
  • Adopt lower-carbon alternatives for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles
  • Utilize clean fuel types and clean fuel technologies 

Exploring the Top 5 Factors That Reduce Your MPG

A reduction in MPG means that the vehicle covers fewer miles for each gallon of fuel it consumes. In other words, the vehicle isn’t fuel efficient. 

Understanding what specifically contributes to poor gas mileage and taking steps to address them can help you save on fuel costs and allow you to make the most of your car’s fuel efficiency. To start, let’s explore the top five factors that can reduce your MPG or car’s fuel efficiency. 

1. Neglected vehicle maintenance

Neglecting routine vehicle maintenance is common because of a busy schedule. However, you should know that a vehicle’s systems perform less efficiently and result in a host of problems when maintenance is overlooked. 

Of course, a vehicle’s gas mileage can deteriorate as it ages. However, poorly maintained cars are much more likely to become less fuel efficient over time, costing you more in the long run. 

So before you skip your next service appointment, you should know how neglecting to maintain your vehicle can adversely affect its fuel economy. 

  • Low tire pressure

Tires primarily account for 20 percent of your vehicle’s fuel consumption. One common cause of deteriorating gas mileage is low tire pressure. When a tire is underinflated, it increases friction and rolling resistance for every kilometre the car travels. 

Rolling resistance refers to the energy your car transfers to the tire to sustain movement at a constant speed on a surface. In simpler terms, it’s the amount of energy required to keep your vehicle’s tires rolling safely and steadily. 

When the rolling resistance increases, your tire needs more energy to work efficiently. This means that your engine works harder to move the vehicle forward and uses more gas per mile. Therefore, keep your car’s tires at the appropriate pressure to prevent a reduction in your MPG. 

  • Worn-out spark plug

Spark plugs ignite the air-fuel combination to start the engine. If one spark plug is worn out or fails to create the spark necessary for engine combustion, it can cause a misfire. 

This means that the fuel in an engine cylinder doesn’t ignite properly and results in unburned gas. While the engine may not stop altogether after a misfire, unburnt fuel in a cylinder can’t power your vehicle. 

Losing engine power wastes gas and reduces your car’s fuel economy. To avoid lowering your MPG, change your spark plugs regularly. It’s best to replace your spark plugs every 30 months, or 48,000 kilometres, for optimal fuel efficiency and engine performance. 

  • Clogged fuel filter

Every vehicle has a fuel filter that keeps particles and contaminants from reaching the engine, which permits a smooth flow of fuel. However, if the fuel filter isn’t properly maintained, it can become clogged and dirty. 

A clogged filter can allow impurities to enter the engine. This can limit the flow of fuel and potentially damage engine performance. Insufficient fuel reaching the engine can make smooth acceleration difficult. 

When you accelerate aggressively, your vehicle consumes more fuel. Make sure that the fuel system is functioning properly and delivering the appropriate amount of fuel to your car’s engine. Replacing your vehicle’s fuel filter at least once a year, or roughly every 16,000 kilometres, is advisable. 

  • Defective oxygen sensor

The oxygen sensor gauges the concentration of oxygen in the exhaust gases that exit the engine. It transmits this data to your vehicle’s onboard computer system, which adjusts how much fuel enters the engine. 

However, when the oxygen sensor is defective, the engine computer can’t get accurate readings of the air-fuel ratio. This can cause the car’s engine to burn too much fuel, leading to higher exhaust emissions and a reduction in your MPG. 

Defective oxygen sensors can decrease your car’s fuel economy by 10 to 15 percent. To keep your gas mileage at its peak, have your vehicle’s oxygen sensor checked and replaced regularly, roughly every 30,000 to 50,000 miles (or about 48,000 to 88,000 kilometres).

  • Not changing motor oil

Engine oil tends to break down as it ages. When that happens, the oil becomes thick and sludgy. If oil is more viscous, it is less likely to seep through the gaps, creating more resistance between engine parts. As a result, the engine works harder to move the oil through its internal system. 

This can eventually diminish the engine’s overall performance, including its ability to smoothly accelerate. Decreased acceleration can significantly reduce your car’s fuel efficiency. This is why it’s important to routinely get an oil change so that you can maximize MPG and keep your engine clean. 

2. Varied terrain and rough road conditions

Low rolling resistance can boost fuel savings and maximize a car’s fuel efficiency. However, driving on varied terrain and road conditions can impact a tire’s rolling resistance. 

When the road surface is exceedingly rough and mountainous, tires will experience additional friction and possible deformation. These factors can lead to higher rolling resistance, which, in turn, can contribute to poor fuel economy in your vehicle. 

3. Adverse weather conditions

Adverse weather conditions, such as wind, snow, temperature variations, and rain, significantly influence driving conditions during winter months

The atmospheric layer becomes denser as the air temperature drops during cold weather. This can lead to an increase in aerodynamic drag. When that happens, the vehicle may encounter greater resistance from the air, which can eventually reduce fuel economy. 

Cold weather can also make the motor oil and other fluids more viscous. As we’ve mentioned earlier, thicker fluids can cause the engine to work harder and burn more fuel, adversely impacting the car’s gas mileage. 

Moreover, gas stations sell different fuels during the cold winter months. These winter blend fuels contain less energy, which typically reduces your MPG. 

4. Excessive cargo weight and accessories

Carrying excessive weight and accessories is another factor that can decrease fuel economy. When your vehicle is loaded down, the engine has to work harder. 

Each extra pound of weight from a cargo or accessories, like a bike track, means more energy to start moving. Therefore, avoid carrying unnecessary loads and accessories so that you can maximize your MPG. 

5. Poor driving habits

The type of vehicle you drive is the most significant factor that can influence fuel economy. However, according to Natural Resources Canada, drivers can reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by up to 25 percent by implementing fuel-efficient driving techniques. 

Likewise, poor driving habits can wreak havoc on your car’s fuel efficiency. Besides maintaining your vehicle, stay away from these driving styles to improve gas mileage and save on fuel costs. 

Aggressive driving, such as frequent rapid acceleration and hard braking, can adversely impact gas mileage. 

Determining the exact amount of fuel wasted by aggressive drivers is difficult. However, aggressive driving has been found to increase fuel consumption by around 40 percent

Speeding is another driving style that contributes to poor gas mileage, as the vehicle uses more fuel because of air and tire rolling resistance. 

Alternating between speeds of 75 and 85 kilometres per hour every 18 seconds can also lead to an increase in fuel usage by 20 percent. To maintain a constant speed on the highway, it’s best to use the cruise control. 

It’s worth noting that not only do these poor driving habits impact fuel economy, but they also put you and other road users’ safety at risk. More than saving money on fuel, avoiding these poor driving habits can keep you and others safe on the road.

Did you know?

Compared to smaller sedans, SUVs tend to emit more pollutants, producing approximately one-third more greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. They’re also more likely to cause injury and fatalities among pedestrians.

Hurt in a Traffic-Related Accident? Diamond & Diamond Lawyers Can Help

Several factors can negatively impact your car’s fuel economy. The constant stop-and-go motion during traffic alone can increase fuel usage, making your vehicle less fuel-efficient. 

Moreover, traffic jams and poor driving habits, like speeding and aggressive driving, can cause excessive fuel consumption, leading to poorer gas mileage. However, more than lower gas mileage, disregarding safe driving practices can put everyone’s safety at risk. 

If you or a loved one were injured in a traffic-related accident, you can get compensation for your injuries with the assistance of Diamond & Diamond Lawyers. Contact us today to further discuss your legal situation and find out how we can help you. 

Besides its impact on fuel economy, traffic jams increase the risks of car collisions. Call Diamond & Diamond for maximum car accident compensation.

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