Emily Chung: Mummy Mechanic


6 Driving And Car Maintenance Tips For Busy Parents

Life doesn't always have to be in the fast lane

6 Driving And Car Maintenance Tips For Busy Parents

There are only 24 hours in a day, right? How many of us are trying to squeeze every last second out of it? As a wife, mom, and business owner, I struggle with effective time management—but I'm working on it.

To start, I’ve shed a few responsibilities and I've gotten better at saying no...but to be honest, there are a lot of other things I still need to add to that list. I’m sure you can relate!

When it comes to driving with efficiency in mind and taking care of my car in a way that will save me the unwanted stress of costly repairs, here are a few things I have managed to master.

1. Plan your routes

Where I live, it seems like every turn I take there’s construction. Completion of a road I use often is expected to end next year and construction just started this past summer. Needless to say, I’ve had to look up better routes to get around town and plan the timing of my errands so I’m not caught in the middle of rush hour.

2. Combine trips

Trips of less than 5 kms don’t allow your car's engine to reach its peak operating temperature. So by the time you reach your destination, you’ve shut the engine off just as it was about start cleaning the engine. This also leads to higher fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. Sometimes, oil residue builds up in the engine because of short driving tips, which can cost you.

Most times, I try to multi-task when running errands. For example, this past Sunday, I stopped to fuel up at Shell and at the same time, I grabbed coffee at their Java Café station for my group. I needed 6 cups and when the gas station attendant noticed that there wasn't enough coffee, he brewed me a fresh pot right away. Talk about service! They had free flavour shots available (hello, hazelnut!) and I took advantage of their current offer to earn 5 bonus AIR MILES reward miles with every 16oz Shell Java Café purchase (offer ends November 9, 2014!). So I got gas for the car, picked up coffee for my group AND earned rewards in one trip. Now that's effective multi-tasking!

Shell Java Cafe

3. Stick to your car's maintenance schedule

The average Canadian spends about $1200 per year in vehicle upkeep, but as busy parents, we're always on-the-go and sometimes too busy to stick to maintenance schedules. Inevitably though, the car will have to be brought in because of a safety issue and at that point it’s an unexpected hit to the budget. Taking your car in for regular maintenance will save you money down the line. A good auto repair shop will take the time to properly inspect your car and help make your car reliable for four to six months at a time.

4. Drive smoothly and Measure your tire pressure once a month

Did you know that you can increase fuel consumption by up to 25% with a combination of bad driving habits like speeding, quick acceleration, and hard stops?* Be mindful of these things when driving to save yourself money at the pumps and decrease fuel consumption.

Making sure your tires are properly inflated is another way to decrease fuel consumption. Having your tires at incorrect pressures also poses a safety risk, and lessens tire life. Make sure you inflate your tires to the proper recommended pressure according to your vehicle’s manual and/or driver side door jamb. DON’T inflate it to the maximum pressure listed on the sidewall of your tires. If you have older kids, have them check tire pressures as part of their chores — get the family involved in your car's maintenance!

5. Fuel your car wisely

It’s important to give your car the correct fuel it requires. If your engine needs an octane rating of 91, don’t put in a lower rating! All three grades of Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasoline contain five times the amount of federally-mandated cleaning agents. This gives Shell gasolines the ability to clean up gunk on intake valves and fuel injectors. A clean engine is more fuel-efficient, produces fewer emissions and allows your vehicle to perform at its best.

6. Lighten your load

One of my clients used to carry cases of bottled water and dumbbells in her trunk; she just never got around to bringing them inside her house. That’s a lot of extra weight and it causes excess fuel use which is an unnecessary cost to you. Other things that will increase fuel consumption include roof or bicycle racks and having improper tires on (for example, driving on winter tires in the summer).

* Natural Resources Canada Office of Energy Efficiency Auto$mart Thinking program