11 ways to save fuel and money in 2021

13 January 2021 - 12:23 By Motoring Staff
More than ever SA motorists are looking for ways to save money at the pumps.
More than ever SA motorists are looking for ways to save money at the pumps.
Image: dolgachov / 123rf

Following hefty fuel price increases this month - petrol by between 40c and 43c per litre, and diesel by between 54c and 55c a litre – cash-strapped and Covid-battered South African motorists have to find innovative ways to save fuel and money.

According to Bianca de Beer from Dialdirect Insurance: “An average increase of 48c per litre is steep on its own, but when coupled with the fact that a 60-litre tank already cost more than R800 to fill, this places a significant strain on motorists’ wallets.

 The good news is that with a few minor adjustments to your driving habits and with regular car maintenance, you can boost the fuel efficiency of your car by as much as 40%. If you fill up 48 times a year at roughly R900 per tank, a 40% reduction in fuel consumption could save you more than R17,000 a year.”

Dialdirect provides the following tips for better fuel economy:

1: Don’t skimp on servicing

A car can burn up to 30% more fuel if proper maintenance is not performed on a regular schedule.  With this in mind, make sure your car is serviced regularly. Things like worn spark plugs, worn rings, faulty injectors, sticky brakes, low coolant levels, dirty oil and dirty filters all add up to engine inefficiency which leads to increased fuel consumption.

2: Be wheel wise

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: Keep tabs on tyre pressure: 

Check for underinflated tyres as these also increase resistance.

4: Use your AC sparingly

Use the air-conditioning only when necessary as it places additional load on the engine.

5: Remove unnecessary weight

Reduce the vehicle’s weight by removing unnecessary items and, if you mostly do city driving, consider driving with only half a tank of fuel.

6: Slow and steady wins the fuel economy race

Don’t speed. The gas-guzzling effects of “stepping on it” are well-known.

7: Avoid stop-start driving

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.

8: Gear yourself for efficiency 

Drive at the lowest speed in the highest gear that the road and traffic conditions allow without labouring the engine.

9: Be tech-savvy

Many vehicles have economy settings to optimise performance, throttle response, ride height and so on for maximum fuel efficiency. Use them to your advantage.

10: Plan ahead

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 vehicle’s engine running at optimal temperature.

11: Wait out the rush

Battling through traffic not only increases fuel consumption, but also wear and tear on your vehicle’s transmission and brakes.

De Beer said: “Saving on fuel by keeping your vehicle 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 700km could get you close to 1,000 km. This translates to almost a tankful of savings for every two times you fill up.”


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