How you can save money on petrol

 ·21 Dec 2021

There are numerous driving and refuelling habits motorists can use to help them reduce fuel consumption and save money.

In recent months, South Africans have been paying more than ever for petrol and diesel.

The outlook for the near future remains bleak.

If you plan to hit the road in December to travel to family or your favourite holiday destination, your fuel expenditure could come as a bit of a shock.

Below are 10 tips for cutting your fuel consumption and saving fuel costs.

1. Reduce unnecessary weight

The heavier your vehicle, the harder your engine has to work to keep it moving. Don’t travel with unnecessary weight in your boot.

2. Use the heater without the air conditioning

Vehicles with regular internal combustion engines can heat your car without requiring the air conditioning to be turned on. Without the aircon’s compressor running, you will use less fuel. Turn the A/C off when you only need heat.

3. Open windows versus aircon

If it’s a scorching day and you need to keep cool, open your windows when driving at low speeds and keep the air conditioning turned off.

However, when driving at 80km/h or faster, open windows can introduce significant drag, and your air conditioner will likely end up consuming less fuel.

4. Check tyre pressure

Under-inflated tyres occupy a larger piece of the road, increasing resistance and fuel consumption.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that under-inflation by 10% could increase fuel consumption by 2%.

Tyre pressure can change naturally over time due to various factors, including temperature.

For optimal consumption, regularly pump up your tyres to the recommended pressure of your manufacturer, which is typically shown on the inside of your door or in the manual.

With low-rolling-resistance tyres, you can pump the pressure 0.3-0.5 bars above the recommendation.

5. Keep your revs low

If you have a manual gearbox, then shifting gears efficiently can factor heavily into your fuel usage. In addition to putting more strain on your engine, high revving increases fuel consumption.

Try and maintain 1,500-2000rpm while cruising and keep it below 3,000 when accelerating, when possible.

6. Plan your trips

If you have to visit multiple destinations on a single day, pool them together and work out the shortest route between your stops to minimise travel distance.

Add your stops on Google Maps and then re-arrange them to find the shortest route.

7. Use the right oil

Using high-quality oil with low viscosity will help reduce engine friction and improve fuel economy.

Total Energies claim that 5W-30 and 0W-30 oils reduce fuel consumption by around 3%, compared to 10W-40 and 5W-40 oils.

Mobil provides a guide that shows the recommended oil for your particular vehicle, or you can find it in your car’s maintenance manual.

8. Service your car regularly

Servicing your car according to the correct schedule will help ensure that your oil and air filters are changed as required, tyre pressure is correct, and worn spark plugs are replaced, among other fuel-efficient optimisations.

Worn spark plugs can be a big trouble-maker, increasing fuel consumption by up to 30%.

9. Don’t idle too long

If your car has been standing in the heat for a long time, rather open the windows and start driving than wait for it to cool down while stationary with the aircon turned on.

If you are stuck in terrible traffic and are stationary for more than 30 seconds, switch your engine off to reduce fuel consumption when it is safe to do so.

10. Avoid sharp stops and quick acceleration

Braking sharply and accelerating quickly will increase fuel consumption by forcing you or your car to switch gears at a faster rate.

EPA testing has shown that heavy braking and quick acceleration can reduce fuel economy by as much as 33% while driving on a highway.

Rather than rush to stop at a red light or stop street, drive consistently, brake slowly, and accelerate gradually.

The myth: Fuel up when it’s cooler

Some people claim that filling your car when it is cooler will mean you get more bang for your buck as fuel expands with heat.

The claim suggests that fuel will evaporate in hotter temperatures and that the fuel you put in your tank in a cooler environment will be denser.

The truth is that fuel stations store petrol and diesel in well-insulated tanks, preventing most of the loss through evaporation.

Even while the fuel is being poured into your tank, the losses would be nearly inconsequential.

Read: Government is looking at changes to South Africa’s petrol price – here are 4 options

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