Trying to spend less of your hard earned cash at the petrol pump is about more than just trying to track the weekly price cycle trends. You can actually apply practical tips to the way you drive and the way you treat your vehicle to make sure you’re getting the most out of every tank of petrol.
Here’s our top ten tips for doing just that:
1. Never tire of checking your tyres
The rule of thumb here is: keep your tyre pressure high to keep your fuel consumption low. By regularly making sure your tyre pressure is at the level recommended by the manufacturer, your car won’t have to work so hard to keep moving, and thus will burn less petrol.
Check out more tips on tyre maintenance 101 here.
2. Be a smooth operator
Your car burns the good stuff far more often when you’re stopping and starting all the time, compared to travelling at a nice, constant speed. Obviously this is difficult in congested traffic, but just do your best to not be braking too frequently, or accelerating too harshly.
By keeping a safe distance from the car in front of you, you won’t have to be so sensitive on the brakes every time something occurs ahead of you. It also makes it a lot easier to anticipate stopping, meaning you won’t have to slam on the brakes and waste that precious fuel.
3. Don’t be too hasty on the AC
Blasting the air conditioner can mean you use between 5 and 10% more fuel than usual, which can really add up. Of course, it shouldn’t mean you’re losing your cool in summer, but just try to resist making your car into an igloo to battle the sun.
4. Aerodynamics can be such a drag
Before you get any bright ideas about surviving during summer by opening the windows, it’s been proven that when travelling at high speeds, an open window can actually affect fuel consumption even more than air conditioning. The key indicator here is high speeds, so how fast you’re travelling should be the difference as to whether you wind down the window or wind up the air conditioning.
The aerodynamics of your car are also affected by other things, like car roof racks and spoilers. Anything that drags your car back will mean your car has to put in a greater effort to keep moving forward, meaning you’ll suffer more when it comes to refilling your tank.
5. Lose the excess baggage
No, we don’t mean kicking out that poor guy from sales who somehow got into your carpool group. We mean ditching all that stuff rolling around in the boot, back seat, or even up front with you. The less weight you’re pulling around, the less money you’ll have to pull out of your pocket at the petrol station.
6. Regular services = regular savings
Keeping up with regular services and general maintenance is not only good for ensuring you’ll get the most value possible when it comes time to sell your car. It’s also good for – yes you guessed it – improving your fuel efficiency.
When everything is working smoothly, you’re more likely to get more k’s out of every tank.
7. Don’t sit idly by
There’s a common misconception that you need to “warm up” a car before driving it. This isn’t true. Idling in your garage before taking off does nothing but continue to waste your petrol. If you are stopping for extended lengths of time in traffic, drive thrus, or anywhere, switching off the engine while you wait can continue to reduce fuel consumption.
8. Watch that speedometer
Once you hit a certain speed, your car really starts to chew through that petrol. For example, travelling at 110km compared to 90km uses up to 25% more fuel! Obviously you can’t sit at 90km in a 110km zone and anger all the drivers around you for the sake of saving a few dollars, but you can choose to stick to the speed limit when you’re only meant to be going 90 or 100km an hour. It’ll also mean you’re a safe driver and you save money on speeding fines, too!
If your car has cruise control, using that at high speeds can help with fuel economy as it keeps a more constant speed than you can by controlling it on your own.
9. Get into (the right) gear
For manual car drivers: staying in a gear too low will burn fuel, while staying at a high gear on hills or while turning corners will do the same. Basically, you need to find the Goldilocks of gears according to your conditions – not too high and not too low – and make sure you’re sticking within it as you drive.
For automatic car drivers: once your car starts to gather momentum, ease up on the accelerator a little. That will ensure your car shifts gears quicker.
10. Avoid driving!
Of course! Why didn’t you think of that? OK, we don’t mean this as in “just stop driving and you won’t use any fuel at all” (although it is scientifically proven to be true).
By this we mean that you should avoid short, unnecessary trips. Cars have something in them called catalytic converters, which act to reduce air pollution emissions. These need time to warm up, which they can’t do on short trips down the corner store.
Rather than making quick little trips here and there, either opt to dust off the old bike or pair of comfortable walking shoes, or plan out a few errands to run at the same time so you’re not going here and there.