Nine tips to help make your fuel go further


South Africans are feeling the pinch as the price of fuel continues to rise. Thanks to October’s dramatic increase the cost of a litre of petrol has now eclipsed the R17 mark – the highest in South African history. Now more than ever it’s imperative to get the most mileage out of every drop. Here are some handy hints on how to do just that.

Check your tyre pressures:

Under-inflated tyres increase the rolling resistance between your vehicle and road it’s travelling on. This means that you car has to burn more fuel to overcome all this extra drag and friction. Research has shown that correctly inflated tyres can increase your gas mileage by approximately 3.3%, so make sure yours are checked regularly.

Drive smoothly:

A car’s engine easily uses the most fuel under hard acceleration. So try and accelerate away from a standstill as smoothly as possible. Be gentle with the pedal and don’t push it all the way to the floor. It’s equally important to look ahead and preempt the flow of traffic. This way you can avoid hard braking and keep your rolling momentum going for longer.

Idling isn’t ideal:

Never keep your car’s engine idling for longer than a minute or so. Reason being is that this burns unnecessary amounts of fuel and also expends more combustion gasses into the atmosphere. So if you’re caught in a stop-go road maintenance scenario, for example, it’s best to turn off your engine until the path ahead is open again. Simple.

Shift gears sooner:

This one is pretty self-explanatory. The higher you rev the more fuel you will burn. Rev lower between each shift and you will certainly use less of the precious black stuff sloshing around in your tank. In other words, swap cogs like an old woman.

Reduce drag at all costs:

Things like roof racks and bike racks ruin the fuel efficiency of your vehicle by creating unnecessary amounts aerodynamic drag. Take them off when not in use to get the most out of every drop. The same goes for open windows and sunroofs.

Keep your car clean:

Carrying unnecessary amounts of baggage around in your car increases its kerb weight. And increased weight, no matter how small, will always have a negative effect on fuel efficiency. As such you should regularly purge your boot and back seats of any junk that doesn’t have to be there.

Avoid rush hour:

This isn’t always possible but try, if you can, to drive to and from work before or after rush hour sets in. The incessant idling and stop-start driving conditions will send your fuel consumption figures through the roof.

Never skimp on servicing:

If your car is running on old engine oil, breathing through a clogged air-filter and sucking petrol through a dirty fuel filter then it can never be expected to perform at its efficiency peak. Therefore it’s crucial to ensure that you stick, religiously, to the service intervals dictated in your vehicle’s user manual. Failure to do so will not just increase your overall fuel consumption but also decrease your engine’s performance.

Try put a freeze on the air-conditioning:

The air-conditioning unit in your car contains a compressor pump driven by the engine. When the air-con is used, the compressor uses power from your engine, thus increasing the work it has do and the amount of fuel it needs to keep going. When you can try and limit the use of your air-conditioner to maximize the mileage of every tank of fuel

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