Wed | Jul 8, 2020

Growth & Jobs | Spend wisely! - Conserving fuel during an economic downturn

Published:Tuesday | May 26, 2020 | 12:13 AM

WITH A number of employees across Jamaica working from home since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, many motorists have been driving less and are likely conserving fuel and money.

Jason McNeish, deputy general manager at the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA), said another way motorists can conserve gas and save money is simply by being deliberate about where they purchase the commodity.

“Convenience and customer service are two necessary standards which consumers consider when purchasing gas; however, during this pandemic, there is also an increased need to purchase fuel based on pricing, in a bid to conserve cash and fuel. Therefore, JAA’s ‘Fuel Prices’ web page is even more beneficial now, as it assists drivers to find 90 per cent of the gas stations across the country, and can check their prices,” he informed.

“The different grades of gas, such as E-10, 87 and 90, as well as diesel and ultra-low sulphur diesel, are listed according to the gas station which sells these products at the lowest price across the country. Additionally, motorists can further narrow their search by comparing gas stations by parish or by company, so that they can find their brand of choice,” McNeish explained.

He added that the web page is updated weekly to reflect the ­fluctuations in gas prices.

However, while driving less may save money, McNeish advised that having the same gas in the vehicle for an extended period of time can cause the quality to deteriorate, as some of the components evaporate over time.

“Old fuel can cause vehicles to stall or not start; therefore, motorists can protect their vehicle’s fuel by completely filling up the fuel tank and add a fuel stabiliser,” he recommended.

McNeish also pointed out that gas prices across Jamaica have decreased since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and has eased the burden on motorists’ pockets, making it easier for them to afford a full tank of gas.

Similarly, Dorothy Campbell, communications specialist at the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), said that motorists can do their due diligence by visiting the CAC’s website and check the most recent ‘Survey of Petrol Prices’ in their parish or town.

AVOID SCAMS

She added that motorists can also protect themselves by checking for the best gas prices online; verifying the cost per litre at the gas station; and taking specific steps to ensure that they are not being scammed.

“Ensure that you can see the pump from your car; follow your card as it is being swiped; and request a receipt, in addition to the card receipt,” she cautioned.

Campbell also recommended that motorists purchase petrol during the cool of the day, as experts maintain that the evaporation of the gas is reduced.

She pointed out that motorists could reduce their drive time and, consequently, gas consumption, by mapping their route, in addition to ­reducing and maintaining speed while taking long trips.

In addition, as part of the JAA’s Stay Safe campaign, McNeish urges motorists to practise safe driving by slowing down, as speed increases the vehicle’s fuel consumption and also increases the risk of serious crashes. Motorists should also ensure that certain key equipment are kept in their vehicles, at all times.

“Drivers should ensure that they have lug tools and a jack, spare tire, rope, jumper cable and a flare; as well as a reflector and flashlight, in case their vehicle breaks down at nights,” he informed. “Also, ensure that your car is properly aligned; that your tires are not worn out and are properly inflated, as this can reduce fuel consumption. Moreover, the JAA, in its mandate to promote mobility and safety for all road users, provides 24/7 accident and roadside assistance across the country.”

Finally, Campbell encouraged motorists to service their car at regular intervals (according to the manufacturer’s recommendations), even during the COVID-19 pandemic, as a poorly maintained vehicle consumes petrol at a higher rate.

The JAA has also ramped up its offerings since the pandemic, to continue to provide Fitness Valet and Registration Valet services at the examination depots and tax offices, respectively.