A 45 cents increase in the petrol price on 2 November will send many drivers into a state of despair, but there are a few things you can do to ease the pressure on your wallet (and your tank).
Your style of driving is one of the primary factors in determining how much you will end up spending on your car over and above repayment costs.
- 1. Keep calm and carry on
“Aggressive driving” can increase fuel consumption and the amount of the wear and tear on parts. This includes speeding, rapid acceleration, racing from traffic light to traffic light and slamming on your brakes will use more fuel. Edmunds Testing found that aggressing driving can increase your fuel usage by up to 33%. Which suggests you could effectively reduce your fuel bill by a third by driving more sedately.
- 2. Keep the aircon off
It might be a big ask in summer, but keeping your air conditioner off can save you quite a bit of petrol in the long run. Your A/C compressor is run by a belt in the engine, which uses more fuel when activated. The added consumption will be more noticeable at idle. Testing has shown that aircon can account for about 5% of a car’s annual fuel bill and for the modern energy-efficient vehicle it’s about half of that amount.
- 3. Share your ride
Forming a lift club can save you over R70 for every 100km travelled if you split the costs. “There are more than a 1000 lift clubs on Gumtree, so it’s easy to join one,” says Osborne.
- 4. Plan your trip
It may not sound like a petrol saving initiative, but leaving earlier can actually reduce costs because you aren’t rushed. Experts have said that you want to take at least 15-20 seconds to get to 80km/h – a relatively gentle start in the low gears, with a more rapid shift through the middle gears before settling at an economic speed in top gear. If your car is fitted with an inboard computer that tracks fuel consumption, make use of it. You might be surprised at how your fuel consumption fluctuates based on the way you drive.
- 5. Take a load off
Try not to overload your car where possible. “Where possible, avoid overloading your car with goods (and passengers). The heavier the car, the heavier the fuel consumption.”
- 6. Keep the windows rolled up
The extra drag caused by open windows is not good for your fuel economy. It’s much better for aerodynamics to keep your windows shut. Of course, air conditioning uses the most fuel when the car idles. Keep your air conditioning turned off until you’ve reached cruising speed and then turn it on.
- 7. Keep your tyres pumped up
Drivers can also benefit from maintaining the correct tyre pressure. The incorrect tyre pressure will not only affect your fuel consumption, but also your tyre life. “It’s also imperative to buy quality, known brand tyres and to have your car tyres fitted professionally. The wheels themselves must be balanced correctly and the alignment regularly checked. Alignment can be thrown out easily by simply hitting a pothole or a curb. This will affect your fuel economy.”
- 8. Buy better
Finally, if you know that you have regular long commutes, you may want to look at purchasing a more economical car. “You don’t have to spring for a hybrid (which can be pricey to buy and maintain), but a smaller hatchback such as a Fiat 500 or Hyundai i10 uses significantly less fuel because they are lighter on the road.”