Amidst rising fuel prices, every motorist in South Africa can adopt fuel efficient driving techniques that will save money at the fuel pump. This article offers fuel efficient driving tips, car maintenance and transport alternatives that will keep your money in your pocket.
Driving tips to improve fuel efficiency
There are many ways to improve fuel efficiency, no matter what car you drive. Here are some driving tips to improve fuel efficiency.
Change Your Driving Habits
Changing your driving habits can drastically reduce fuel consumption, here's what you can do:
- Drive Slower: The faster you drive, the more energy (fuel) is required to maintain speed. If you drive slower, your car will use less energy and overall fuel consumption will be drastically reduced.
- Drive Smoother: Accelerating and braking quickly or unnecessarily increases fuel consumption. To reduce fuel consumption, rather accelerate slowly and smoothly. When braking, apply the brakes gently or alternatively take your foot off the accelerator.
- Change Gears Properly: Changing gears at the right time can reduce fuel consumption. It's important to change gears without putting the engine under unnecessary strain. Don't over rev the engine while changing gears, rather change gears smoothly to reduce fuel consumption.
- Read the Traffic: Anticipating the traffic and road ahead can reduce fuel consumption. For example, if a robot in the distance turns red, don't speed up to the robot and brake suddenly to a stop. Rather reduce your speed or coast' towards the robot. Be aware of traffic and the road ahead of you and drive accordingly to improve your fuel efficiency.
- Avoid Excessive Idling: Idling consumes fuel. If you are idling for longer than one minute, rather turn your engine off. The amount of fuel used to restart your engine is minimal compared to idling for long periods of time.
- Use Cruise Control: If your car has cruise control, use it. Using cruise control while driving on the highway will help you maintain a constant speed and will increase your overall fuel efficiency.
- Plan and Combine Trips: Planning and combining your everyday driving trips can reduce your overall fuel consumption. A single, combined trip is more economical than several, separate trips.
- Minimise Use of Air Conditioning: Air conditioning systems can increase fuel consumption. Only use air conditioning if you really have to, otherwise rather turn it off.
- Reduce Drag: Bicycle racks, roof racks or driving with windows open increases drag which ultimately increases fuel consumption. If you are not using your bicycle or roof rack, rather take it off. Also, rather drive with windows partially open.
- Lose Excess Weight: Extra, unnecessary weight in your car can drastically increase fuel consumption. Remove all unnecessary items from your car to improve fuel efficiency.
- Plan a Different Route: Use a road map to plan an easier, less congested route to your destination. Try and avoid heavily congested roads or areas with lots of traffic lights as they will only increase your fuel consumption.
Maintain Your Car
Maintaining your car will ensure that your car functions at its optimal level. Car maintenance is a critical factor that can improve fuel efficiency, here's what you can do to maintain your car so that it offers the best fuel economy possible:
- Regular Services: A car that is rarely or poorly serviced will have increased fuel consumption. Service your car regularly and make sure that the oil and air filters are changed on a regular basis.
- Use the Right Motor Oil: Make sure that when you top-up your motor oil that you are using the correct grade motor oil for your particular car. Refer to your owner's manual to see what motor oil is suitable for your car.
- Use the Right Fuel: Using the wrong fuel for your car can impact fuel consumption negatively. Check your owner's manual to see what fuel your car is designed to use.
- Keep Tyres Inflated: Check your tyre pressure on a regular basis. Poorly inflated tyres contribute significantly to higher fuel consumption. Refer to your owner's manual to see what tyre pressure is ideal for your car.
Here are some alternatives that can help save you money on fuel:
- Take a Walk: Avoid using your car unless you really have to. If possible, rather walk, this will save you money on fuel and provide you with exercise.
- Ride a Bicycle: If you don't want to walk, consider riding a bicycle where possible. Riding a bicycle is faster than walking and will save you money on those short, unnecessary car trips.
- Use Public Transport: Although highly debateable in South Africa, public transport can save you money on fuel.
- Consider Carpooling: Sharing driving responsibilities with work colleagues or friends is a good way to save money on fuel and will spare wear and tear on your own car.
- Buy a More Fuel Efficient Car: If you can, consider buying a more fuel efficient car or a hybrid electric car. Although this might cost you money initially, you will save lots of money in the future.
Saving money on fuel is something you can achieve by simply changing your driving habits and keeping your car well maintained. You can save even more money on fuel if you implement alternatives into your daily travel routine. Follow these fuel efficient driving tips and you will start saving money on fuel today.