LAST week’s fuel hike saw South African’s paying the highest fuel prices in the country’s history.The good news is, that with a bit of smart driving, you could increase your fuel economy by as much as 40%. To help you reduce your fuel consumption, Budget Insurance offered a few tips. • Align and inflate — incorrect wheel alignment and underinflated tyres leads to increased resistance between the tyres and the road, which in turn leads to higher fuel consumption, as well as increased wear and tear on tyres. • Smooth and steady — every harsh brake and acceleration guzzles fuel. Keep a safe following distance and avoid speeding off from a green traffic light. Your fuel tank, and pocket, will thank you. • Squash the need for speed — high speeds result in high fuel consumption. It’s as simple as that. • Hike it up a gear — as a rule of thumb, the higher the gear, the lower the petrol consumption, so always drive in the highest gear possible without straining the engine. • Don’t be a drag — there are many things that cause or increase drag. To decrease drag, keep the windows closed and attach additional weight to the rear of the car instead of the roof. • Air-con control — did you know that your car uses more fuel powering your air-con when you’re travelling at low speed and less at a higher speed?If you’re driving a short distance, and travelling at a lower speed (under 80km/h), open the window instead of switching on the air-con. • Have that health check — many components in your car impact fuel consumption and if they’re not working properly, you could be paying a hefty price. • Practice patience — If you can avoid major congestion, do. It will end up saving you time, frustration and of course, fuel. • Team up and tap out — joining a lift club is not only a great way to save fuel and reduce wear and tear on your car, it can also be a great stress reliever, giving you the freedom to relax while someone else is driving. • Switch on and go — there’s nothing like a warm car on a cold morning but that time spent idling is costing you money. Don’t let your car idle for much longer than a minute. “If you fill up 48 times a year at R 800 per tank, a 40% reduction in fuel consumption could save you more than R 15 000 a year. So, just by changing the way you drive and keeping your car in tip top shape, you could have an extra R 1 250 at your disposal each month,” said Susan Steward, marketing manager of Budget Insurance. — Wheels24.