By Vanessa Papas
South African motorists hit by a whopping increase in the price of petrol, hot on the heels of already hefty increases in the past year, are feeling the pinch. With the fuel price at its highest point ever, we’re all looking for ways to decrease our transport costs. We bring you a break down on how, with a few minor tweaks, you can save on your travel costs.
Drive A Smaller Car
If you haven’t already made a car purchase, or if you’re thinking of upgrading or downgrading your vehicle, one of the best ways to reduce your fuel consumption is to purchase and drive a vehicle that is projected to get great petrol mileage. Find a fuel-efficient model that fits your needs and, in general, stay away from large SUVs, vans, and trucks if you are concerned with lowering your petrol budget. Among some of the most fuel-efficient cars in SA are Ford Fiesta 1.5 TDCi (3.6 L/100 km), Fiat Tipo 1.3 Multijet Easy (3.7 L/100 km), Fiat 500 (3.8 L/100 km), Peugeot 2008 1.6 HDi Active (4.0 L/100 km) and Audi A1 1.0T (4.2 L/100km).
Fill Your Tank In The Morning
The reason is quite simple – in the mornings you get more bang for the buck or more value for your money spent. Experts say petroleum products expand when they are warm, so due to the expansion you end up with a lesser percentage of petrol for the money you’ve paid if you’re filling up in the afternoon or during the day. In the mornings, however, when the temperature is cooler, petrol is denser, irrespective of whether it’s in liquid form or gas.
All you have to do is find a few people who live along a similar route as you do and split the travelling burden. This involves passengers travelling in a vehicle that is not registered or licensed for commuting purposes. Readers are cautioned, however, that if they use their car for anything other than personal use, it is essential to update their insurance policy. Failure to do so may lead to an insurance claim being rejected. “Do your research before monetising your ride,” says Vera Nagtegaal, the Executive Head of Hippo.co.za.
“If you are using one person’s car and money is changing hands, this could potentially be seen by an insurer as a commercial transaction, especially if the money you’re receiving is more than the operating costs. In this instance, this could mean that your car is being used for business purposes, and you should have a different type of insurance cover – and even a special permit to be in the driver’s seat. Some insurers will consider whether the amount of money changing hands was sufficient to cover only petrol as opposed to providing an income. But find out first. Personal policies exclude transporting passengers for hire or those who pay a fare, and such policies won’t cover liability for fare-paying passengers.”
Doing away with speeding can be kind on your pocket. Speeding increases road friction and aerodynamic ‘drag’, both of which cause cars to guzzle more petrol. Going slower also means less strain and a longer life for the engine and tyres. Of course, these benefits must be measured against the additional
time it will take you to reach your destination.
Drive Less Aggressively
Quick acceleration and sudden braking can be big fuel-burners. They are also hard on your vehicle. Greater use of engine retarder devices and less brake pedal usage can increase the life of the foundation brakes.
Turning off your car engine when it is not in use seems like a no-brainer. But you can actually land up paying more petrol if you sit in one place with your engine running. It all depends on how long you’re sitting for.
Plan Trips Ahead Of Time
Knowing where you are going and how to get there can help save petrol costs; after all, getting lost and landing up on the wrong highway can be costly. Rather organise your routes with fuel savings in mind. Is there a route that requires less stop-and-start driving? Which way allows you to maximise your time and get there quicker?
Should You Ditch The Aircon?
Using the air-conditioner (AC) versus rolling down car windows is among the most talked-about petrol-saving habits. In the end it really all depends on a number of factors, most of all how you drive your car. Turning your AC on or off can help reduce or improve your fuel efficiency depending on driving conditions. By choosing to avoid rush-hour traffic you can enjoy your AC without feeling guilty of using up more fuel, as you are able to drive at a higher and more constant speed. Setting the thermostat to a level appropriate for the ambient conditions, rather than always putting it on maximum levels, can also help save petrol.
Service Your Car Regularly
Filter checks and changes are one of the best ways to save petrol. Dirty air filters restrict air flow to the engine, which doesn’t make for great performance or fuel efficiency. Filters are simple to check and change; just remove the filter and hold it up to the sun. If light shines through, you need to replace it. Rather use filters that are cleaned – they are far more cost effective than throwing away paper filters and have less impact on the environment.
Check Your Tyres
Keep your tyres properly inflated. A label on the driver’s door jamb should provide the correct pressures to use. If your tyres aren’t inflated to the proper PSI (pounds/inch²) pressure, you will be guilty of burning fuel unnecessarily and ruining your tyres in the process.