Though the price of petrol, and diesel, has stopped rising for now, it’s still a huge cost when running a car. Here are 10 simple fuel saving tips to save money on petrol and free up some cash for other things. It works for diesel too!
1. Make fewer trips
Did you know that when you drive a car that has been parked for a few hours, the engine is cold and it uses much more fuel for the first five km’s or so? Ideally you’d combine all your daily errands into one big trip. Often that’s not possible if you have to pop out during the day to drop off and collect the family, but try not to go out separately to do a grocery shop and then again to have lunch, for example.
2. Don’t drive in rush hour, if you can avoid it
There are few worse places to spend your time than stuck in a traffic jam, but it’s also a very expensive way of travelling. Every time that you stop and start in traffic, your car needs first gear and a huge amount of fuel to get moving again. Second gear is not much better. The best solution is to not travel during the rush hour. You can also save some fuel by trying to understand what the traffic is doing in front of you, and travelling steadily at a slow speed, rather than accelerating and braking. If you have to travel in rush hour a lot, then you could consider buying a hybrid car, which uses much less fuel in town than a normal petrol or diesel.
3. Close the windows (and sunroof, if you’ve got one)
It’s not so much of a problem when you’re driving about town, but when you’re on the highway and moving more quickly, the shape of your car is very important. Car designers call it aerodynamics and make lots of effort to reduce the ‘drag’ and make the car as sleek as possible. Anything that makes wind noise as your car goes along is actually making your car more expensive to run. You can’t do much about the design of your car, but you can avoid making it worse by not leaving the windows and sunroof open. It’s better to use the air vents for most of the year, and the air-conditioning when it gets too hot.
4. Remove the roof rack
This is just like leaving the windows open, but worse. Even if the roof rack is empty, it increases drag and makes your car use more fuel, while a big ski box is like having another car strapped to your roof. The latest roof racks and ski boxes are quick and easy to fit and remove, so make the effort to stow them away when you’re not using them.
5. Don’t carry round unnecessary weight
Just like your body, your car needs more fuel to move around more weight. So, just as you wouldn’t wear a heavy rucksack unless you had to, don’t cart stuff around in the boot of your car unless you need it. Ironically, the heavier the item (the usual culprits are golf clubs and trolleys), the less likely you are to bother taking it out of the boot and the greater the effect it will have on your fuel consumption.
6. Accelerate smoothly
The perfect way to travel is at a constant speed, and in the highest gear. So if you’re a patient driver, you’ll have lower fuel bills – it’s as simple as that. It’s unrealistic to avoid overtaking, but there’s little point accelerating past a car to simply be in front of it at the next set of lights – any instant gratification will appear on your fuel bill the next time you fill up.
7. Don’t push the accelerator down too far
This one always surprises people. It’s not just to do with what gear you’re in. You may be in a high gear and travelling at a sensible speed, but if you’re pushing the accelerator down a long way to avoid changing into a lower gear (into third from fourth, for example), then you’re actually using more fuel not less. Obviously, if your car has an automatic gearbox (you’ll know if it does), then it will probably do a better job than you of choosing which gear to be in, so it’s not a problem.
8. Stick to the speed limit
If you ignored the law, you could shave a bit of time off your journey by travelling above the speed limit, particularly on long motorway trips. But, although you might arrive about 20 minutes early on a 100km trip by travelling at higher than 120km, it’s also a false economy. While the car is running for 20 minutes less, it uses much more fuel when it is travelling. That 20 minutes could cost you a lot more in fuel.
9. Check your tyre pressures regularly
The lower the tyre pressure, the more fuel the car needs to move it down the road. We recommend that you take five minutes every fortnight to check the tyres. If you’re not sure what the pressure should be, you can normally find the figures near the lock inside the driver’s door.
10. Offer rides or Find a Ride on CarTrip to save money
CarTrip is several times cheaper than a taxi or similar services and works out as a viable option for a commute so it could be used daily. Passengers pay a small fee and get point-to-point transportation in a comfortable car and drivers are able to get a cost reimbursement for their costs. At a flat fee of 80c per kilometre with no peak rates, it’s a win-win situation for all parties, including the environment.