How to make your tank of petrol go the extra mile


The pump price of petrol will rise by 52 cents a litre (c/l) for all grades, while diesel will increase by a whopping 76c/l, the department of energy announced on Monday.

Make the most of your fuel

  • Check your tyre pressure regularly. Too flat tyres can increase fuel consumption by up to three per cent, Britain’s Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) says.
  • Use the correct spark plugs with the gap setting at 100 per cent.
  • Get rid of unnecessary weight such as roof and boot carriers when you’re not using them. Extra weight and wind resistance increase your car’s fuel consumption.
  • Service your car regularly at a reputable centre.
Read more: Get more bang for your watts: 11 sneaky ways you can save electricity

Which fuel is best?

  • Use premium fuel and multigrade engine oil. It’s a waste of money to fill up with a higher octane than recommended for your vehicle. If you have an old car that can run on both, opt for unleaded petrol rather than lead replacement petrol (LRP).

Good fuel habits

  • Don’t let the petrol attendant rock your car to squeeze in a few more drops of fuel. Tell him to stop as soon as the pump switches off automatically. Exceeding the tank’s capacity can cause fuel to evaporate.
  • If your tank is too full don’t park in the sun or on an incline as this will hasten evaporation.
  • Don’t wait for the fuel warning light to come on before filling up. The more air in your tank, the faster fuel evaporates.
On the road
  • Drive smoothly and avoid accelerating unnecessarily. Go easy on the brakes and try not to push in the accelerator deeper than the first quarter, Gary Ronald, head of public affairs for the Automobile Association (AA) in Johannesburg says. Oil company Shell says you can reduce fuel consumption by up to a third by not driving aggressively or accelerating too fast.
  • By driving just 20 km/h slower you can reduce your consumption by 10 per cent.
  • Plan so you can take the shortest route.
  • Avoid peak traffic if possible. According to the AA it takes up to 65 per cent longer to travel in peak hour.
  • Shift up a gear as soon as your engine allows it. You use more fuel in lower gears. You can also skip gears and go from first to third, for instance.
  • Read the traffic 500 metres or more ahead of you and drive smartly to avoid constant stopping and starting. If you approach a red traffic light, for example, slow down to give it time to turn green before you reach it.
  • If your car’s cruise control is set to just under 130 km/h for the highway, reduce it to 120 km/h. Switch it off on long inclines.

More useful tips

  • Don’t switch off your engine and put your car in neutral to freewheel down a hill. It doesn’t save much fuel and makes it more difficult to control the car in an emergency.
  • If you’re waiting on an incline at a traffic light don’t ride the clutch to prevent your vehicle from rolling backwards. It wastes fuel and wears your clutch. Use the handbrake.
  • Don’t let your vehicle idle for too long in stationary traffic. Switch it off after 30 seconds and on again when the traffic starts moving.
  • Don’t wind down windows on the highway. It causes drag and can increase petrol consumption by up to 20 per cent.
  • Don’t switch on the air conditioner unnecessarily, especially in an older/smaller car.

Get a fuel-efficient car

  • Diesel cars with their good torque at low engine revolutions (rpm) are fuel-efficient.
  • Hybrid cars, powered by both petrol and electricity, are fuel-efficient but still fairly expensive to buy.
  • Small, new-generation petrol vehicles without direct fuel injection are economical for city driving.
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24