The smart driver’s guide to saving money

02 February 2018 - 07:00 By Jill Young Schutte
123RF/Hongqi Zhang.
123RF/Hongqi Zhang.
Image: 123RF

The cost of petrol isn’t cheap. Many people spend thousands of rands on petrol and then drive like maniacs. Doing this doesn’t only damage your car by speeding up wear and tear, it also increases what you spend on petrol every day.

The good news is, you can make small changes to your driving habits today and save money, not to mention reduce your risk of having an accident and hurting or killing yourself and others.

Petrol savings tips for your car

Before you even start your engine, there are a few things you need to do to your car that will reduce the amount of fuel it burns. Don’t worry, none of them are mechanical.

1. Empty the boot and clear out the trash

Before you pull out of your driveway, remove anything from the car that you don’t need. Suitcases from the boot, golf clubs, even gym bags. You want to make sure you car isn’t carrying around any extra weight. The heavier the car, the more petrol it burns.

2. Increase your car’s aerodynamics

If your car has a roof rack, take it off. If you have a bicycle rack on the back, remove it. If you’re fortunate enough to go canoeing every weekend, don’t leave the canoe strapped to your car during the week. Clunky attachments on the car increases drag. This means the car works harder to move forward and uses more petrol.

The aerodynamics of your car is very important. So, when you’re on the highway, keep the car windows closed too. Use the air vents for fresh air or even the air con if it gets too hot.

3. Check your tyre pressure every time you fill up

You need to make sure that your tyre pressure is at the right levels for your car at all times. Check the car’s instruction manual or the inside of the driver’s door for the best levels to inflate the wheels to. If the tyres are too flat, the car will use more petrol.

4. Plan your journeys

Most of us have busy lives and need to run many errands during the day. When planning your day, try to make all your errands fit into one driving trip. This is because when the car is cool, it uses more petrol to warm up the engine. So, doing all your errands in one trip will save you some money.

5. Stick to the speed limit

The speed limit in residential or populated areas is between 60 and 80 kilometres per hour. On the highway the fastest you should drive in 120 kilometres per hour. Exceeding the speed limit won’t only result in you getting costly traffic fines and endangering your life, it will also increase the amount of money you spend on petrol.

6. Drive carefully

This is not only important for your safety, but also for your petrol usage. Patient drivers pay less for fuel than road hogs. Don’t race from robot to robot. Accelerate gradually, take turns carefully and never press your accelerator all the way down to the floor.

If you respect your car, it will respect you. You’ll save money on petrol and on repairs.