How to save fuel (and money!)

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Gas gauge on empty.

“If you fill-up 48 times a year at roughly R900 per tank, a 40 per cent reduction in fuel consumption could save you over R17 000 a year,” says Bianca de Beer from Dialdirect Insurance.

Dialdirect provides the following tips for better fuel economy:

  • Service smart: A car can burn up to 30 per cent more fuel if proper maintenance is not performed on a regular schedule. With this in mind, make sure that your car is serviced regularly. Things like worn spark plugs, worn rings, faulty injectors, sticky brakes, low coolant levels, dirty oil, and dirty filters all add up to engine inefficiency, which leads to increased fuel consumption.
  • Wheel wise: Check your car’s wheel alignment. Bad wheel alignment causes more friction, which takes more power to overcome and results in higher fuel consumption.
  • Pressure check: Check for underinflated tyres, as these, too, increase resistance.
  • Air con costs a cool buck: Use the air conditioning only when really necessary, as it places additional load on the engine.
  • Deadweight: Reduce the vehicle’s weight by removing unnecessary items from it and, if you mostly do city driving, consider driving with only half a tank of fuel.
  • Nice and slow: Don’t speed. The gas-guzzling effects of “stepping on it” are well-known.
  • Don’t stop-start: Maintain momentum as far as possible by looking and planning, flowing with traffic and timing your approaches to hills, traffic lights and crossings better.
  • Geared for efficiency: Drive at the lowest speed in the highest gear that the road and traffic conditions allow, without labouring the engine.
  • Tech-savvy: Many vehicles have economy settings to optimise performance, throttle response, ride height etc. for maximum fuel efficiency. Use them to your advantage.
  • Plan ahead: 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 vehicle’s engine running at optimal temperature.
  • Wait out the rush: Battling through traffic not only increases fuel consumption but also wear and tear on your vehicle’s transmission and brakes.

“Saving on fuel by keeping your vehicle in shape and changing the way you drive may seem like a bit of a hassle, but if you increase your fuel economy by 40 per cent, a tank that normally gets you 700 km could get you close to 1000 km. This translates to almost a tankful of savings for every two times you fill-up.”