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Seven ways to save money on your fuel bill

Money is tight and petrol is brutally expensive. When a full tank is costing you more than R1000, it’s well worth exploring ways to drive more fuel-efficiently.
If you follow these simple tips from Jeff Osborne of Gumtree Autos SA, you can save yourself a big whack on your fuel bill, especially on long-distance trips.

  1. Drive gently. Rapid take-offs, racing from traffic light to traffic light, and slamming on your brakes will use more fuel. Research has shown that aggressing driving can increase your fuel usage by up to 33%.
  2. Accelerate and decelerate smoothly. Take at least 15 seconds to get to 80kph – a relatively gentle start in the low gears, with a more rapid shift through the middle gears before settling at an economic speed in top gear. Read the road ahead and anticipate robots and stop streets to ensure a smooth deceleration.
  3. Take it slow. Cruise at 80-100kph, anything more and you are both endangering yourself and using extra fuel.
  4. Plan ahead. Leave earlier to allow more time so you can travel slowly and avoid peak hours and roads with extensive lengthy repair works which demand fuel-guzzling idling time.
  5. Keep the aircon off. Tough to do on hot days but your aircon compressor is run by a belt in the engine, which uses more fuel when activated. In an older vehicle, the aircon can account for about 5% of a car’s annual fuel bill. Air conditioning uses the most fuel when the car idles, so keep it off until you’ve reached cruising speed.
  6. Load lightly. Any extra weight in the vehicle adds to your fuel bill. Anything on the roof will add to drag, and bike racks, trailers or caravans require significant extra juice. Open windows also negatively impact on a car’s aerodynamics.
  7. Correct tyre pressure. The wrong pressures will not only affect your fuel consumption, but also your tyre life. Proper wheel balance and alignment are also important for optimal fuel economy.