Tomorrow the price of petrol is set to increase again to R14.82 per litre (95 unleaded) inland and R14.23 on the coast. With this increase of 74c for petrol (95) and 93c for diesel, already cash-strapped consumers will have to make the most of every tank of fuel; especially as there seem to be more increases on the horizon with General Fuel and Road Accident Fund levies taking effect in April, and the Carbon Tax coming in to play in June.
Luckily, there are still a few ways for you to take control, as Susan Steward, Marketing Manager of Budget Insurance, explains:
‘People often underestimate the impact that their driving habits have on fuel consumption, but minor tweaks can help protect your pocket at the pump. According to the Department of Energy in the US, smart driving could increase your fuel economy by as much as 40%, so, if you fill up 48 times a year at R800 per tank, you could save more than R15 000 a year. Just by changing the way you drive and keeping your car in tip top shape, you could have an extra R1 250 at your disposal each month. Who can say no to that?’
Here are 14 more fuel-saving tips:
- Make sure that your vehicle is serviced regularly. Things like worn spark plugs, sticky brakes, low coolant levels, dirty oil, and dirty fuel- and air filters all add up to engine inefficiency, which leads to increased fuel consumption.
- Check your vehicle’s wheel alignment. Bad wheel alignment causes more friction, which takes more power to overcome and results in higher fuel consumption.
- Check for underinflated tyres, as these, too, increase resistance.
- Close the vehicle’s windows when driving, as open windows cause drag. And use the air conditioning only when necessary.
- Reduce the vehicle’s weight by removing unnecessary items from it and, if you mostly do urban driving, consider driving with only half a tank of fuel.
- Reduce drag by removing roof racks and other accessories when they aren’t in use.
- Don’t speed and don’t “floor it”. Rather accelerate gradually.
- And just like rapid acceleration, every harsh brake guzzles fuel too. So go easy on your brake pedal.
- Avoid stop-starting. Maintain momentum as far as possible by looking and planning ahead, flowing with traffic and timing your approaches to hills, traffic lights and crossings better.
- Drive at the lowest speed in the highest gear that the road and traffic conditions allow, without labouring the engine.
- Don’t let your car idle for much longer than a minute. The time spent idling while your car warms up is costing you money.
- Plan your trips more carefully and do several tasks on one round trip, as opposed to many shorter ones. This not only limits mileage and the amount of time it takes to get your chores done, but also keeps your car’s engine running at an optimal temperature.
- Wait out the traffic. If traffic is heavily congested, spend a bit more time at the office to tick more items off your to-do list, or stop at a spot where you can have coffee or a bite to eat. Battling through traffic not only increases fuel consumption, but also wear and tear on your car’s transmission and brakes.
- Keep your finger on the pulse by reading or listening to up to date traffic reports and monitoring your GPS for faster routes.