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8 Ways to Save Money and the Planet as a Young Driver

Written by Rebecca Tunney

Listen, I know life comes with a lot of expenses, and owning a car is a huge one. Ideally we’d all be using hoverboards by now, but we aren’t so lucky in this version of 2015. Taking the bus and carpooling are some good, realistic ways to cut the cost of travel, but they aren’t always possible if your commute is long or if you don’t have anyone to share a ride with. So if driving is your only option, try out these handy-dandy tips for saving money—you could even help out the environment along the way.

Skip the Drive-Thru

Drive-thrus, while convenient, are a surprising waste of gas. If you really want to grab a coffee, find a place to park and go buy your cuppa joe inside the establishment. You’ll save gas and cut back on your emissions.

Turn Up and Roll Down

There’s been some debate about whether air conditioning or having your windows open is worse for fuel efficiency. Turns out, it actually depends on the situation. AC causes the engine to work harder and use extra fuel, but rolling down the windows can create more wind resistance, which will also lead to greater fuel consumption. You should roll down the windows when you’re driving in the city or in heavy traffic, and use the AC when you’re driving at high speeds.

Take it Slow

If you needed another reason to slow down besides safety, then consider this: studies show that driving faster actually uses more gas than driving slower. I’m not saying you need to crawl every time you hit the road (that can be just as dangerous as driving too quickly), but it’s probably best if you stick to the speed limit, or at least match the speed of traffic. Gradually braking and accelerating also reduces fuel consumption. The safer you drive, the more fuel-efficient your car will be.

Warm Up

In the wintertime, did your mom or dad ever ask you to start the car five minutes before you left home so it could warm? While it’s good to run the car on a warm engine, this practice is yet again a waste of gas. Run it for 30 seconds instead of five minutes; if that doesn’t work, buy a block heater. It uses electricity and will warm up your engine just as well as running it would.

Maintain Your Vehicle

Keeping your car in tip-top shape makes your fuel economy suck just a little bit less. Take care of your whip and get it fixed when necessary to keep everything running smoothly and efficiently (and to avoid future problems on the road). This includes keeping the tires properly inflated, which you can do on your own—it’s really not too hard!

Plan Ahead

Planning your route saves you a lot of time and confusion on the road. When you’re going somewhere new, map out the trip and check road and traffic conditions. Avoid taking routes where you’d be doing more idling than actual driving. It also turns out that right turns use less gas than left turns (who knew?!), so the more rights you make, the better it is for your mileage.

Watch the Junk in your Trunk

I mean the junk in the actual trunk of your car. Get your head out of the gutter.

The more your car weighs, the harder the engine has to work. Even a bike rack can affect your aerodynamics and add extra weight to your car, decreasing total mileage. Remove all unnecessary weight in your car. Even cleaning your car of wrappers and dry french fries can help. Plus, a clean car is nicer to be in, no?

Invest in a Green Car

A physically green car won’t change your carbon footprint, but an ecologically green one will! Take the Ford Focus, for example; its award-winning available 1.0L EcoBoost® engine, which was built to not only be lighter, but stiffer as to reduce vibrations making it more efficient. There’s also the Focus Electric, which gets its power from an advanced 23-kWh liquid-cooled advanced lithium-ion battery and has a Government of Canada-estimated range of 122 kilometres on each full charge. Plus, there is the provincial government incentive for purchasing electric vehicles, some as a high as $8,500, no-charge EV parking spots in many locations across Canada, and HOV lane access are why electric vehicles are increasingly becoming the wise green choice.

Still yet, Ford even has the First Time Buyer and Graduate Rebate programs to help you pay for a new car. Investing in a green car is a great way to save dough, and you can be proud of how kind you’re being to the environment in the process.

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.