Petrol prices on the rise: Fuel hacks that actually work, and ones you shouldn't even try

Fuel prices are set for another increase.
Fuel prices are set for another increase.
  • Tomato sauce, Coca-Cola and fuel pills are fuel-saving hacks you should avoid.
  • Simple driving behaviour changes could help reduce your fuel bills.
  • We take a look at what works, and what you should avoid.

Fuel prices dropped significantly last month, and South Africans could not have been happier. But deep down, we knew it was going to be short-lived. 

The Automobile Association of South Africa reported that the first fuel price increase of the year would see the price of 93 octane petrol go up to R21.38 per litre inland and 95 octane to R21.68. The wholesale price of diesel will increase to R21.32 a litre.

Still, fuel prices are painful, to say the least, and it's made motorists think and try all sorts of tips to ease their bills. Some have joined lift clubs, others have downgraded to smaller and more frugal vehicles, and others have been attempting crazy hacks, like fuel pills, to get through tough times.

Fuel pills contain ingredients that are harmful to
Fuel pills contain ingredients that are harmful to your car.

Masterdrive CEO Eugene Herbert shares why fuel pills should be avoided at all costs and offers fool-proof tips to reduce fuel usage.

Herbert says two problematic ingredients, naphthalene and ferrocene, were found in fuel pills that not only make them ineffective, but potentially damaging to your vehicle as well.

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"If a fuel pill contains either ingredient, there is little to no benefit and can even cause greater fuel consumption. If you do not know what it contains, you are being taken advantage of and, worse, adding potentially harmful substances to your vehicle. 

"Numerous tests on fuel-saving devices, like fuel pills, show they do not save enough fuel even to be measurable. In South Africa, companies, like Sasol, call them a scam, and the Western Cape government warns against their use," he says. 

A fuel gauge indicating the fuel level in a car.
A fuel gauge indicating the fuel level in a car.

Unfortunately, attempts to save fuel are not limited to fuel pills. "It cannot be over-emphasised that the only thing intended to go into your fuel tank is fuel. 

"Another gimmick some have tried using is Coca-Cola instead of fuel. A company associated with a viral video distanced itself because Coca-Cola is not a safe fuel substitute. It will likely cost much more than potential improbable savings." 

Other hard-to-believe 'hacks' you should not even consider trying:

  • Ketchup/tomato sauce
  • Plug-in devices
  • Dishwasher tablets
  • Toothpaste
  • Buying fuel early in the morning
  • Overinflating tyres

Herbert advises motorists to be cautious of techniques employed to save fuel, especially if it involves putting foreign substances into fuel tanks.

"It is not true that, if it doesn't work, 'no harm, no foul'. Research shows it can cause plenty of harm to your vehicle, which is not worth the supposed savings. Ultimately, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," he says. 

The real hacks

Luckily, there are proven techniques, but they may not be what you expect. Techniques such as defensive driving, not speeding, anticipating traffic conditions, avoiding reckless driving and planning routes are the best way to get results.

According to Herbert, introducing these 'hacks' can reduce fuel consumption by up to 20%. 

Other 'real hacks' include:
  • Watching 12 seconds ahead as you drive
  • Reducing speed by 20km/h
  • Use traffic apps and alerts to avoid congestion
  • Keep your rev counter around 3 000rpm when driving
  • Regular maintenance
  • Remove unnecessary items from your car

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