How to save R17 000 a year in fuel by driving smart

Fuel pumps
Fuel pumps

 • Fuel prices saw significant hikes earlier in January.
 • A 60-litre tank already costs more than R800 to fill up.
 • Various factors can contribute to more use of fuel if your car is not in top shape.
 • For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24.



Following hefty January fuel price increases - petrol by between 40 and 43 cents per litre, and diesel by between 54 and 55 cents a litre – cash-strapped and Covid-battered South Africans have to find innovative ways to save fuel and money.

An average increase of 48 cents per litre is steep on its own, but when coupled with the fact that a 60-litre tank already cost more than R800 to fill up, this places a significant strain on motorists' wallets.

The good news is that, with a few minor adjustments to your driving habits and with regular car maintenance, you can boost the fuel efficiency of your car by as much as 40%. So, if you fill up 48 times a year at roughly R900 per tank, a 40% reduction in fuel consumption could save you over R17 000 a year.

Driving with the incorrect tyre pressure could result in using more fuel.

Dialdirect provides the following tips for better fuel economy:

Service smart: A car can burn up to 30% more fuel if proper maintenance is not performed on a regular schedule. 

With this in mind, make sure that your car is serviced regularly. Things like worn spark plugs, worn rings, faulty injectors, sticky brakes, low coolant levels, dirty oil, and dirty filters all add up to engine inefficiency, which leads to increased fuel consumption.

Wheel wise: Check your car's wheel alignment. Bad wheel alignment causes more friction, which takes more power to overcome and results in higher fuel consumption.

Pressure check:  Check for underinflated tyres, as these, too, increase resistance.

Air con costs a cool buck: Use the air conditioning only when really necessary, as it places additional load on the engine.

Dead weight: Reduce the vehicle's weight by removing unnecessary items from it and, if you mostly do city driving, consider driving with only half a tank of fuel. 

Nice and slow: Don't speed. The gas-guzzling effects of "stepping on it" are well-known.

Don't stop-start: Maintain momentum as far as possible by looking and planning ahead, flowing with traffic and timing your approaches to hills, traffic lights and crossings better.

Geared for efficiency: Drive at the lowest speed in the highest gear that the road and traffic conditions allow, without labouring the engine.

Tech savvy: Many vehicles have economy settings to optimise performance, throttle response, ride height etc. for maximum fuel efficiency. Use them to your advantage.

Plan ahead: Do several tasks on one round trip, as opposed to many shorter ones. This not only limits mileage and the amount of time it takes to get your chores done, but also keeps your vehicle’s engine running at optimal temperature.

Wait out the rush: Battling through traffic not only increases fuel consumption, but also wear and tear on your vehicle's transmission and brakes.

Saving on fuel by keeping your vehicle in shape and changing the way you drive may seem like a bit of a hassle, but if you increase your fuel economy by 40%, a tank that normally gets you 700km could get you close to 1000km. This translates to almost a tankful of savings for every two times you fill up.

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