Fuel Price Hike: How To Save Fuel

You don’t need to buy a new car in order to benefit from fuel efficiency. With these tips and tricks, you can save petrol all by yourself!
Jason Snyman
South Africans are known to hang onto their cars for a long time. Most people maintain their vehicles and try to get as much value out of them as possible before trading them in for something newer. Getting the most out of your car is important, and when it comes to fuel this is no different. With rising fuel prices and a tougher economy than ever before – we decided to put together a comprehensive list of tips and tricks to help you save on petrol. Some tips are rather obvious, such as avoiding traffic. Anybody who has ever lived in a city knows that sometimes it’s just better to wait it out. Fighting your way through congestion isn’t just bad for your wallet or your car, but it wreaks havoc on your sanity too. Take a coffee break, grab a bite to eat and take it easy. Essentially, that’s the whole secret to saving fuel. Taking it easy. Here are some more tips and tricks.

What You Can Do To Save On Fuel

Some of us still drive older cars, which just aren’t as fuel efficient as the latest models. Technology has really benefited motorists in this regard.  For those people still running vehicles from the 90s or early 2000s, here are a couple of things that you can do to save money.
  • Combine your trips. Unnecessary trips back and forth burn through your petrol. Plot out all of your trips and errands and map out the best possible round trip to get it all done in one go. Certain apps can also make your life easier, by informing you of traffic conditions or allowing you to map the optimum route.
  • Close your windows. This may sound petty, but open windows add drag to the vehicle. This resistance adds up to higher fuel usage. Aircons aren’t really your friend either.
  • Change gears properly. Many drivers have a bad habit of snapping between gears. The trick is to change into the right gear, at the right time, and smoothly. Your car will thank you for it.
  • Use the highways. Unless you live in Cape Town, where the highways are a constant stop-go nightmare, this is often the most efficient route. Any congested road with plenty of stops or traffic lights is going to consume more fuel. An open highway, in an ideal world, allows you to maintain a consistent speed.
  • Brake properly. Avoid hard braking and exuberant acceleration. This isn’t a Vin Diesel movie. Aggressive driving wastes fuel and also wears out your brakes.
  • Driving fast, in general, consumes more fuel. Optimal cruising speed is anywhere between 80 and 90km/h.
  • Try to drive at the lowest speed in the highest gear that the road and traffic conditions will allow. It’s important to do this without labouring the engine, but will consume less fuel.

Optimise Your Ride

Sometimes, all your car needs is a little bit of TLC.
  • Service your vehicle. Maintaining your car and regularly changing things such as the petrol filter, air filter and oil filter will improve performance and efficiency. Low coolant levels, dirty oil and worn spark plugs are also terrible for efficiency.
  • Check your tyres. Make sure that your tyres are at the correct pressure and that your wheel alignment is accurate. Bad alignment causes more friction. To overcome this, more power is required and therefore more fuel.
  • Reduce your car's weight. Remove anything unnecessary which may be weighing the car down, as this also requires greater power to move.
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Newer Tech, Better Efficiency

Many of the newer cars, particularly hybrids, offer way better fuel efficiency than older cars. This isn’t always the case though – and a newer car isn’t necessary. City dwellers, for instance, would do far better by just buying a cheaper, smaller vehicle. Many modern features do make our lives easier though.
  • Start-stop technology. This is an environmentally friendly, fuel-saving on-off system. Drivers of older cars may be familiar with this trick – switching your car off when standing still and idling for a long while. Many motorists also put their car into neutral when waiting at a red traffic light as well, which reduces load on the engine.
  • The best way to drive, really, is to avoid the stop-and-start situations entirely. Try to flow with the traffic and maintain momentum as far as possible. Time your approaches to inclines or red lights in order to catch them green and keep on going.

Some Tips For The Road

Remember, the economy is tough. This ain’t no charity and you’re not running a taxi. If you need to ferry friends or family up and down, there’s no shame in expecting fuel money in return. It’s the least they can do for taking up your time and resources. On that note, carpooling has always been a great way to save up on petrol bills – with everybody contributing a fair share. Not only is this more efficient and better for traffic conditions, but it’s also safer. Hijackers don’t normally try their luck on a car packed full of people, it’s just not worth the hassle.