How to survive April’s huge fuel hike

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With a few tweaks in motorists’ driving style and planning, they can survive the recent high fuel price increase and save on costs. The fuel prices recently increased by about 95.70 cents a litre for diesel and about 86 cents a litre for petrol. A spokesperson for Budget Insurance, Graham Craggs, said motorists are already stretched to their financial limits.
With forethought, planning and a minor adjustment in their driving style, they can survive the price hike, Craggs said. Firstly, motorists should get their vehicle’s ‘health’ checked. “Correct any problems and then ensure that the cars are serviced regularly.” He said this aspect is very important. Motorists must make sure that spark plugs and filters are changed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. A vehicle in optimal condition can reduce petrol costs and save the motorist more money by preventing costly repairs further down the line.
The second important aspect is to ensure that the vehicle’s wheel alignment is correct. Tyres must be properly inflated according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Under-inflated tyres offer more road resistance, which means fuel consumption goes up. Bad wheel alignment causes the car to use more power, which also increases the amount of petrol it needs to keep going.
Better fuel efficiency requires a few small changes in motorists’ driving styles. Craggs said motorists must avoid harsh stop-start driving as this causes the vehicle to guzzle fuel. Avoid high speed because it uses more fuel. At 110km/h a car uses up to 25 percent more petrol than it would cruising at a more moderate 90km/h. Motorists must also drive in the highest gear possible without straining the engine.
Also drive at a constant speed instead of in fits and starts, which is not economical. Further avoid idling for too long or unnecessarily. Driving with the windows wide open, especially at high speed, causes fuel consumption to go up. Use the vehicle’s air-conditioner sparingly. Air-cons can cause petrol consumption to go up by about 10 percent. However, speeding at over 80km/h, using the vehicle’s air-con is more fuel efficient than driving with the windows open.
Craggs said people must also try and join a lift club, which will save money and wear and tear on their vehicles. Two other ways to save fuel is to plan travel routes. The result is shorter routes to destinations, preventing unnecessary travelling. Motorists must also rather combine as many errands in one trip as they can, than using the vehicle for multiple single excursions. – André Grobler
andreg@centralmediagroup.co.za