The ever rising costs of petrol and diesel fuel are a constant annoyance to motorists. It’s probably obvious that it’s the speed that you drive at that mostly influences your fuel consumption, yet there are a number of other options that can save you money on the fuel you buy. Before you think of using your car, could you walk or even cycle – if you’re only going a couple of klms or so, do you really need to use the car?

Have your car serviced on a regular basis

Regular car maintenance including components such as the quality of your engine oil and the condition of your tyres can have an effect on the performance and fuel savings of your car.

Lighten the load

Don’t carry unnecessary items around with you in the boot as extra weight equals extra fuel. Roof boxes and roof racks increase your fuel consumption so either remove them from your car or pack carefully to reduce the drag.

Before you set off

Always plan your journey and avoid traffic queues as sitting in heavy traffic wastes fuel, as does getting lost, adding kms to your journey. Combine short trips if possible, as cold starts of the engine use more fuel, and when you’re beginning your journey, try not to keep the engine idling as this wastes fuel too – start your car and get off on your way. Likewise, during the winter months, don’t leave your car idling while it warms up.

Driving hints for best fuel economy

Always drive smoothly and accelerate gently, read the road ahead to avoid unnecessary braking. When slowing down, decelerate smoothly by leaving the car in gear and releasing the accelerator in time.  When approaching traffic lights or standing traffic queues, keep the car rolling rather than stopping and starting the engine. Stick to the speed limit as driving at fast ER speeds uses more fuel. Driving at 120 km/h can use 20% more fuel than at 110 km/h.

Change gears earlier without labouring the engine, if possible changing up at an engine speed of around 2,000 rpm (diesel) or 2,500 (petrol). Since 2014 new car models have been fitted with a gear shift indicator to encourage use of the most efficient gear.

For best fuel economy it’s best not to use your air conditioning unless it’s absolutely necessary. Try opening the windows when driving shorter distances and keep the air con for longer, high speed journeys. Reduce use of the electrical components, such as headlights, demister fan and heated rear window.

Calculate how much fuel you use each week, then consider driving slowly for a week or two, then see what a difference it makes to your fuel consumption.