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Petrol goes up again –  four tips to help you survive

With petrol prices going up again, vehicle owners are feeling the pressure of owning a vehicle. Every petrol price increase means more is paid towards petrol costs and less is available for the maintenance of the vehicle. Dewald Ranft, Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), says now is the time for vehicle owners to review their vehicle costs and look at cost-saving alternatives that won’t compromise their vehicle or safety.
“We know the natural tendency when consumers are cash-strapped is to spend less money on maintaining their car, but this actually makes things worse. A properly serviced and maintained car will not only cost you less on repairs in the long run but also keep the fuel consumption at the optimum low level,” says Ranft.
Here are four useful tips and myth busters to save you money:

  • Dirty air filters kills fuel mileage – False.

In modern engines the air filter has in fact the smallest effect on fuel economy. Nowadays air flow sensors and computer software carefully manage the air/fuel mix in your car’s engine, ensuring maximum fuel economy is possible regardless of the quality of air.  The only place where it will make a difference however, is performance. If the air filter is dirty, less air can get into the engine under hard acceleration, meaning your car speeds up more slowly.

  • Use Low Viscosity engine oil – True:

Using a low viscosity engine oil will give an improved fuel economy of about 1% compared to a new lower grade oil.  In comparison old sludged up oil can decrease you fuel efficiency by several percentage points. The transmission oil has an even bigger effect of up to 5%, especially in an automatic gearbox.  Using old or the incorrect oil will cause slipping clutches and incorrect gear changes that end up resulting in increased fuel consumption.

  • Does tyre pressure matter? – True.

Tyre pressure also has an influence of up to 3% on fuel economy. Ranft recommends consumers keep their tyre pressure at  0.3 – 0.5 bar above the recommended tyre pressure. “This will make the ride a bit harder but save fuel and reduce tyre wear,” he says.

  • Missing a service will save me money – False.

Possibly the biggest fuel waster of all comes into effect once the vehicle is not running properly any more.  Misfires, engine warning light, low performance, binding brakes and oil sludge are all things that can cause an increase in fuel consumption of more than 10%, besides the long term damage to your vehicle. “Your car might not come back from the service with a lower fuel consumption, but if you don’t service it, the fuel consumption will definitely go up,” cautions Ranft.
“Regular maintenance of a vehicle is the only way to ensure it remains roadworthy but is also a money-saving exercise in the long run because major breakages on a vehicle are very expensive. Regular servicing can prevent that. It’s also the best way to ensure you keep your vehicle longer. A car in good condition will run longer and possibly be more fuel efficient,” concludes Ranft.