Fuel costs can make a big hole in the weekly budget – especially if your household runs more than one vehicle. Of course, the best way to save money on fuel is to walk, take a bus or train or get on your bike. However, for those times when driving your car is essential here are some tips on how to be a more fuel-efficient driver and ways to save money on fuel in the process.
Drive at a steady pace
Staying at a steady speed where possible and reducing the need for braking will conserve fuel. The ideal speed to stick to is generally between 50 to 90km/h.
Take fewer short trips
Starting your vehicle and travelling the first five kilometres are when your vehicle is least fuel-efficient. Plan on doing as many errands as you can in a single trip.
Be a thoughtful driver
Aggressive driving can burn as much as a third more fuel than smooth, responsible driving. However, accelerating slowly to get up to cruising speed uses more fuel than accelerating fast.
If you’re sitting in traffic or waiting for someone for more than 30 seconds, turn your engine off if it’s safe to do so.
Avoid heavy traffic
The stop/start of driving in heavy traffic or sitting in a traffic jam is the worst scenario for your fuel economy. Going out of your way to avoid traffic jams can use less fuel than idling in heavy traffic. This is one of the most important ways to save money on fuel.
Make sure you are using the correct gear
Letting your engine labour in top gear on hills and corners is wasteful of fuel, as is driving in a gear lower than needed.
Go easy on braking
Braking your vehicle wastes energy, so a good fuel-efficient tactic is to keep looking ahead and drive in such a way that minimises the need for constant braking and acceleration and maximises coasting.
Don’t skip your regular car service
A well-tuned engine can have up to four percent improved fuel economy. So change the oil and get your vehicle serviced on a regular basis. Properly inflated tyres can add another three per cent and using the correct oil can improve your fuel economy by up to two per cent.
Other problems that can cut your fuel efficiency are bad wheel alignment, dirty air filters and dodgy spark plugs. In electronic fuel-injected vehicles a new oxygen filter can dramatically improve fuel efficiency.
Reduce your use of air-conditioning
At low speeds, your car air-conditioner can reduce fuel economy by more than 10 per cent if it’s on a high setting. Try to use air-conditioning as little as possible.
Lose a bit of weight
Every extra 45kg of weight in a vehicle can drop the fuel efficiency by two per cent. Remove your roof rack or roof bars when you’re not using them and keep your boot clear of heavy tools or any other equipment when you don’t need them to be in there.
By following these money saving tips on fuel it’s possible to improve your fuel economy by 15-25 per cent. There are many simple ways to save money on fuel and leave more money in your pocket. What’s more, by driving responsibly and caring for your vehicle, you will also be reducing your emissions and reducing your carbon footprint as well.