You can’t avoid the 39-cent petrol price hike announced by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan during his budget speech, but you can save money by filling up your car less often. Follow these simple fuel-saving tips to do just that:
1: Check your tyre pressure
Underinflated tyres increase the rolling resistance between your vehicle and the road it’s travelling on. This means that you car has to burn more fuel to overcome all this extra drag and friction. Research has shown that correctly inflated tyres can increase your gas mileage by approximately 3.3%, so make sure you check your tyre pressure regularly.
2: Drive smoothly
A car’s engine easily uses the most fuel during bouts of hard acceleration. So try and accelerate away from a standstill as smoothly as possible. Be gentle with the pedal and don’t push it all the way to the floor. It’s equally important to look ahead and pre-empt the flow of traffic. This way you can avoid hard braking and keep your rolling momentum going for longer.
3: Idling isn’t ideal
Never keep your car’s engine idling for longer than a minute or so. This burns unnecessary amounts of fuel and also expends more combustion gases into the atmosphere. So if caught in a stop-go road maintenance scenario, for example, it’s best to turn off your engine until the path ahead is open again. Simple.
4: Shift gears sooner
This one is pretty self-explanatory. The higher you rev the more fuel you will burn. Rev lower between each gear shift and you will certainly use less of the precious black stuff sloshing around in your tank. In other words, swap cogs like an old woman.
5: Reduce drag at all costs
Things like roof racks and bike racks ruin the fuel efficiency of your vehicle by creating unnecessary amounts aerodynamic drag. Take them off when not in use to get the most out of every drop of petrol. The same goes for open windows and sunroofs.
6: Keep your car clean
Carrying unnecessary amounts of baggage around in your car increases its kerb weight. And increased weight, no matter how small, will always have a negative effect on fuel efficiency. As such you should regularly purge your boot and back seats of any junk that doesn’t need to be there.
7: Avoid rush hour
This isn’t always possible but try, if you can, to drive to and from work before or after rush hour sets in. The incessant idling and stop-start driving conditions will send your fuel consumption figures through the roof.
8: Never skimp on servicing
If your car is running on old engine oil, breathing through a clogged air-filter and sucking petrol through a dirty fuel filter then it can never be expected to perform at its efficiency peak. Therefore it’s crucial to ensure that you stick, religiously, to the service intervals dictated in your vehicle’s user manual. Failure to do so will not just increase your overall fuel consumption but also decrease your engine’s performance.
9: Put a freeze on the air-conditioning
The air-conditioning unit in your car contains a compressor pump driven by the engine. When the air-con is used, the compressor uses power from your engine, thus increasing the work it has do and the amount of fuel it needs to keep going. So when you can, try and limit the use of your air-conditioner to maximize the mileage of every tank of fuel. – Thomas Falkiner