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Beat the 'budget speech blues' with these 13 savvy fuel-saving tips

26 February 2020 - 16:03 By Motoring Reporter
Motorists can expect to pay even more for fuel in 2020.
Motorists can expect to pay even more for fuel in 2020.
Image: scyther5 / 123rf

Finance minister Tito Mboweni on Wednesday delivered his 2020 budget speech against the backdrop of a tough economy and an even tougher energy crisis. The biggest pinch will again be felt by motorists who will be hit by a double whammy: a fuel price levy and a Road Accident Fund levy.

According to Susan Steward from Budget Insurance: “With the general fuel levy increasing by 16 cents per litre, cash-strapped motorists will have to make the most of every tank of fuel. Coupled with the 9 cents per litre RAF hike, you can expect to pay about R60 extra per month for a 60-litre tank of petrol if you fill up four times a month.”

However, like Mboweni’s Aloe Ferox plant which “survives and thrives when times are tough” - there are ways to make the pinch less painful.  

“You can boost the fuel efficiency of your car by as much as 40% by maintaining your car and changing your bad driving habits,” says Steward. “So, if you fill up 48 times a year at about R1000 per tank, a 40% reduction in fuel consumption could save you over R19,000 a year.”

Budget Insurance provides the following tips for better fuel economy:

  1. Make sure that your car is serviced regularly. Things like worn spark plugs, sticky brakes, low coolant levels, dirty oil, and dirty fuel and air filters all add up to engine inefficiency, which leads to increased fuel consumption.
  2. Check your car’s wheel alignment. Bad wheel alignment causes more friction, which takes more power to overcome and results in higher fuel consumption.
  3. Check for underinflated tyres, as these, too, increase resistance.
  4. Close the car’s windows when driving, as open windows cause drag.
  5. Reduce the car’s weight by removing unnecessary items from it and, if you mostly do urban driving, consider driving with only half a tank of fuel.
  6. Reduce drag by removing roof racks and other accessories when they aren’t in use.
  7. Don’t speed.
  8. Avoid stop-starting. Maintain momentum as far as possible by looking and planning ahead, flowing with traffic and timing your approaches to hills, traffic lights and crossings better.
  9. Drive at the lowest speed in the highest gear that the road and traffic conditions allow, without labouring the engine.
  10. Use the air conditioning only when necessary. 
  11. Plan your trips more carefully and do several tasks on one round trip, as opposed to many shorter ones. This not only limits mileage and the amount of time it takes to get your chores done, but also keeps your car’s engine running at optimal temperature.
  12. Wait out the traffic. If traffic is heavily congested, spend a bit more time at the office to tick more items off your to-do list. Battling through traffic not only increases fuel consumption, but also wear and tear on your car’s transmission and brakes.
  13. Keep your finger on the pulse by reading or listening to up-to-date traffic reports and monitoring your GPS for faster routes.

“Saving on fuel by keeping your car in shape and changing the way you drive may seem like a bit of a hassle, but if you increase your fuel economy by 40%, a tank that normally gets you 650km could get more than 900km. This translates to almost a tankful of savings for every two times you fill up,” concludes Steward.