20 Jul Safire’s fuel-saving tips
Try our Safire Insurance fuel-savvy hints, which experts say could improve the fuel efficiency of your vehicle by as much as 40%. You’ll get the most from your fuel tank – especially if you tap into the numerous loyalty rewards programmes available – and you’ll also help to extend the life of your vehicle.
Plan your journey beforehand to avoid getting lost if it’s a new route. Also, plan to combine chores so that you don’t make several shorter trips as a cooled engine will use more fuel for the first 10 kilometres or so. Try to stay off roads with bad potholes and dangerous intersections – especially important when traffic lights aren’t working because of load shedding! Roads with potentially heavy traffic should also be avoided whenever possible. Often a slightly longer but quieter route is the way to go.
A fast-and-furious driving style is not only dangerous, it also chews up your fuel (and wears out tyres and brake pads). Adopt a slower, smoother method of driving and avoid stop-start travelling that guzzles fuel. Driving faster will also increase wind resistance, causing your vehicle’s engine to work harder and use more fuel. According to Caltex, decreasing your freeway speed to 88.5 km/h can increase your vehicle’s fuel economy by up to 20% while sudden acceleration lowers fuel efficiency by up to 33%, so apply the accelerator and brakes moderately. The most fuel-efficient way to accelerate is to take up to 20 seconds to reach 80 km/h, with a quieter start in the lower gears, a more rapid transition through the middle gears, before reaching the more economical higher gears.
For modern fuel-injected vehicles, it is no longer necessary to warm up the engine. Turn off the engine if you’re not moving. Idling gets you nowhere and wastes fuel.
Stay in shape
Looking after your vehicle will ensure that it operates at its best. A car can burn up to 30% more fuel if it’s battling with worn spark plugs, dirty oil and filters, sticking brakes, worn rings, faulty injectors and other issues that regular maintenance will sort out. Check your air filter more frequently if you drive on dirt roads or do a lot of stop-and-go driving. Get a trusted professional to do the necessary tune-ups and services, and do it when scheduled.
Tyres are your anchor to the road surface, so buy quality tyres and replace them when the tread is worn. A correctly inflated tyre is vital for maximising the grip and minimising wear and tear on your tyres. Underinflated tyres may cause your car to drag and consume more fuel, as well as being unsafe as this increases stopping distances and reduces tyre grip. Check your tyres regularly, as worn tyres could impact the wheel alignment.
Your tyres are more likely to slip on wet or gravel surfaces, and each time that happens you reduce fuel efficiency (as well as possibly causing you to spin or crash). Be careful when moving off on unpaved and slippery roads and slow down on rough surfaces.
It’s logical that carrying extra weight requires extra power, resulting in higher fuel usage by your car’s engine. Fuel economy is lowered by up to 2% for every 45.4 kilograms in the vehicle (especially true of smaller, lighter cars). Spring-clean your vehicle and remove unnecessary items such a golf clubs, heavy boxes etc. Fuel itself is heavy, so if you usually drive in areas where petrol stations are readily available, consider driving with only half a tank of fuel.
Cruise control sets a constant speed that helps save fuel when used on flat surfaces such as highways and freeways. However, on steep hills the cruise control will try to keep your vehicle travelling at a constant speed, making the engine work harder and so use more fuel.
In the summer heat, the temperature inside a vehicle can increase by 10 degrees within just five minutes (which is why children and pets should never be left in a parked car), so air-conditioning is a necessity at times, although anything that puts a drain on the battery will put a drain on your fuel economy. However, if you use air-con wisely, it won’t make too much difference in terms of fuel efficiency. Vehicle manufacturers say that cars may use more fuel to power the air-con at lower speeds but cruising on the highway with your air-con on won’t affect fuel consumption.
Driving an automatic?
Some automatic cars stay in lower gears longer than necessary for optimised fuel efficiency. Try to get the transmission to shift earlier by taking your foot off the accelerator after 50 km/h. Accelerate slowly when you’re in the higher gears.
So there you have it – according to the experts, these are some of the things you can do that could help improve the fuel efficiency of your car by as much as 40%, as well as extending the lifespan of your vehicle.