MOTORING NEWS - People often underestimate the impact that their driving habits have on fuel consumption. Only months after a substantial fuel price increase, SA consumers will have to face that the petrol price currently is going only one way - and that is up.
The Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) expects no mercy for motorists regarding fuel costs for the near future. However, some of the cure may be in the motorists' own hands, the association says.
"People often underestimate the impact their driving habits have on fuel consumption, but minor tweaks can help protect your pocket at the pump," says Susan Steward of Budget Insurance. "According to the department of energy in the US, smart driving could increase your fuel economy by as much as 40%. This means if you fill up 48 times a year at R800 per tank, you could save more than R15 000 a year. Just by changing the way you drive and keeping your car in tip top shape, you could have an extra R1 250 every month."
To help you further reduce your fuel consumption, Budget Insurance recommends some practical tips:
Align and inflate
Incorrect wheel alignment and under-inflated tyres lead to increased resistance between the tyres and the road. This in turn leads to higher fuel consumption as well as increased wear and tear on tyres. Check the tyre pressure at least once a month. Alignment should be checked at least once a year, but a check every six months or after incidents like hitting a pothole or curb, is advisable.
Smooth and steady
Every harsh brake and acceleration guzzles fuel. Keep a safe following distance and avoid speeding off from a green traffic light. Your fuel tank and pocket will thank you.
Squash the need for speed
High speeds result in high fuel consumption. It's as simple as that. At 110km your car uses up to 25% more fuel than it would cruising at 90km.
Hike it up a gear
As a rule of thumb: the higher the gear, the lower the petrol consumption. So always drive in the highest gear possible without straining the engine by letting the revs drop too low.
Don't be a drag
There are many things that cause or increase drag, including driving with the windows open and attaching carriers or bikes to the roof. To decrease drag, keep the windows closed, especially at high speeds.
Attach additional weight to the rear of the car instead of the roof.
Air con control
Did you know that a car uses more fuel powering air con when travelling at lower speed and less at a higher speed?
The higher the revs, the more power the engine produces, allowing it to run the air-con more efficiently. If you're driving a short distance and travelling at a speed under 80km, open the window instead of switching on the air con.
Have that health check
Many components of a car impact fuel consumption.
If they're not all working properly, you could be paying a hefty price.
Everything from dirty oil or air filters to dirty injectors, a faulty exhaust, worn spark plugs or low coolant levels can contribute to bad fuel efficiency. So make sure they all get a regular check-up.
If you can avoid major congestion, do. It will end up saving time, frustration and fuel.
If you can't wait, use the technology at your fingertips by checking alternative, less congested routes, on a reliable traffic app.
Joining a lift club is not only a great way to save fuel and reduce wear and tear on a car, it can also be a great stress reliever, giving you the freedom to relax while someone else is driving.
Switch on and go
There's nothing like a warm car on a cold morning, but the time spent idling while a car warms up is costing money.
Don't let your car idle for longer than a minute.