How much does it cost to drive across Canada?

Let’s start with the cost of gas. It’s the one thing that you can’t go without on a road trip, and you can’t cut back on it like you can with food or accommodation. (Run out of money? Just sleep in your car and eat $0.86 noodles from the grocery store out of a tin cup! But you’ll still need to fuel your vehicle, and there’s no negotiating on the price. It’s just expensive. Period. Well, unless you drive a Prius, but that’s a whole other blog…)

The price of gas varies by province, by city and even by suburb. For a quick idea of what the current price of gas is in Canadian funds, MSN Auto has a quick breakdown by province here.

To figure out how much it will cost to fuel your vehicle for your road trip, here’s my rough guide:

Step 1 – Determine the distance you’re travelling in kilometres. I’m planning to drive about 8,000 km (one-way). Just Google “Driving distance from _____(city)___ to _____(city)____.”

Step 2 – Determine your fuel tank capacity in litres. Search the specs for your vehicle by make, model and year. I searched the specs for my car on Auto123.com, and found a 2008 Hyundai Accent holds 45 L.

Step 3 – Determine how much gas your car burns per 100 km. I searched using Fuel Economy Database and found my car’s fuel efficiency is 8.1 L/100 km for combined city and highway driving.

Step 4 – Divide your total distance (Step 1) by 100 (km). (For me, that’s 8,000 ÷ 100 = 80)

Step 5 – Multiply this number by your fuel efficiency number (Step 3) to get the number of litres of gas you’re going to use. (In my case, 80 x 8.1 L = 648 L)

Step 6 – Divide this number by your fuel tank capacity number (Step 2) to figure out how many tanks of gas you’ll go through. (In my case, 648 ÷ 45 = 14.4)

Step 7 – Multiply this number by the cost of filling up your tank (what do you normally pay to fill up?) to get an idea of how much you’ll need to budget for gas. (In my case, 14.4 tanks x $50 = $720) (If you’re renting a car or RV and you don’t know what it costs to fill up the tank, just ask the rental company or do a quick Google search. Google knows all.)

And there you go!*

So, I’ll need to budget at least $720 for gas each way, but that’s being conservative because I know the price is relatively high here in Vancouver, and I’ve used my local price to work out my calculations. The real test will be when I add up my receipts along the way. I’m planning to keep a running total for costs on the road, so you’ll be able to see how accurate or wildly off I am in using this formula. Of course, if anyone has a better way of figuring out the cost of gas, please let me know!

*Disclaimer: I’m no math genius and this is a VERY rough estimate. If you use this formula and it’s way off, I’m sorry. Hopefully it’s way off in your favour, though, and you can spend the extra cash on snacks or music downloads.

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4 comments

  1. Aaron

    Step1 – 7612km Step2 – 94.6 Step3 – 19.61/100km Step4 – 76.12 Step5 76.12×19.61L = 1493L Step6 15.8 tanks x$80. = $1264
    Does this seem low? This is for a 99 f150 4×4 5.4L. I did the same trip in a 96Chevy Cavalier for $992. Gas prices where around the same.

  2. marellereid

    Hi Aaron, I think it sounds about right, though I’m still no math wizard. Using the formula I came up with before my trip worked out pretty well for me. I’d estimated I would need $720 for gas, total, and was off by an extra $240, which accounted for the extra 2,000 km of city driving I did along the way. (I had estimated the trip being a direct route without factoring in the side road trips I would take.)

    • Cassie Hooker

      Figuring out the cost of gas when you are hauling a trailer should be easy enough. Fill up your tank, set your trip meter at zero, then drive a mix of urban and highway roads (without the trailer first) for 100km. Jot down the number on your trip meter. Then, fill up again, hitch your trailer and set your trip meter to zero again.Drive 100km, and compare the number on your trip meter to your previous number.

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