Relief! 6 driving tips to save fuel this festive season

We all love our cars - but don't you just hate what it costs to keep them moving? These 6 tips will help.

With fuel increases around every corner, it makes sense that we would want to save as much money as possible, especially over this road-tripping festive season. After all, every litre burnt away is another hole in your pocket and every litre saved is money that can be spent elsewhere. Whether that’s on a supper out with family or a movie for just the two of you, there’s no need to compromise on life because all your money is going to fuel.

Indeed, saving fuel is not as difficult as we think it is and you can save up to 30% of it by changing a few driving habits. Yes, on 50-litre tank, if your car consumes unleaded 93, careful driving can save you as much as R217/tank, which is certainly nothing to scoff at. Imagine the possibilities!

Here then, for your fuel-saving pleasure, are 6 tips to save you as much fuel (and money) as possible. You’ll thank us later!

  1. Keep your car regularly maintained. Nice and fresh!

Missing services or pushing your car to “the breaking edge” can aggravate fuel consumption as your car struggles to come to terms with older parts and bits. A regular car service, whether done at a certified dealer or done at home, is always good thing for your pocket. An oil change, spark plug change – including oil and air filter – can reinvigorate your car and make moving it forward that little bit easier.

Look at it this way: Consider a service like keeping your car fit. If you’re less fit, it is going to be more difficult to run. So, keep it fit by keeping it maintained. Your pocket will thank you in the long run

2. Accelerate smoothly. It’s the best way to accelerate!

Perhaps the easiest way to save fuel is found beneath your right foot and how you go about your business between the lights. Driving smoothly and changing gears at low revs will significantly save fuel. Caress your accelerator between the lights and ease your way to fifth gear. Never rev to the limit. Driving at 60km/h is irrelevant in fuel saving terms if you’re pounding your car to get there quickly.

Remember, it takes less energy to keep a car moving when it is already moving, but to bring a heavy machine up to speed uses hard-earned fuel and money to do so. Minimise accelerating impacts as much as possible by barely accelerating at all. Drive easy!

3. Passop! Stay below the speed limit.

We know what you’re thinking: This is just a round-about way of lecturing us about driving safely. Well, driving safely requires that you drive to the speed limit, not necessarily below it. To save fuel however, we suggest that you drive slower than the speed limit: It is unbelievable what speed can do to fuel consumption, especially on the long road. It is calculated that 90km/h is technically the most fuel efficient speed out there, and increasing to 120km/h can increase fuel consumption by as much as 20%.

Of course though, getting to your destination on time is also important. So here’s our tip: On the long road, consider driving around 10-15km/h slower than the speed limit. Not only is it safe to do so, it will significantly save fuel and get you to your destination well on time, with a few extra bucks in your pocket. What a pleasure.

4. To aircon or not to aircon? Both!

Now, this is a debate for the ages, but research suggests that both are correct. Generally, the defining rule is this: If you are on the long road and driving faster, you should use your aircon. Open windows and sunroofs create drag and decrease your fuel efficiency. If however, you’re in town and you’re stuck between the lights, the best thing you can do is drop those windows and enjoy some fresh air.

Here’s another tip: When on the long road, switch the aircon off if you’re overtaking. Besides helping you with the extra power, you will save money doing so.

5. Shed unnecessary weight. Not you – the car!

Are you one of those people who carry around extra weight in the boot - or have a roof rack you never use? Whether you’ve got a few camping chairs that you lug around just for emergencies, an old work bag full of documents or a bicycle rack you only use once a month, do yourself a favour and shed it. We underestimate how weight can affect fuel economy and the problem is worse during acceleration and at speed.

Look at this way: Running a marathon is a tad more difficult with some weight around the waistline. Similarly, your car will move easier without a cluttered boot or some extra steal up top. It’s that simple.

6. Pump it up! You’ve got to pump up…

The final point is an important one as the correct tyre pressure not only maximises fuel efficiency but is also a safe thing to do. Pap tyres are more likely to burst as under-inflation stretches the tyre wall. Also, they’re more difficult to move. Fortunately, both can be easily avoided if we keep an eye on the tyre pressure and check it every time we fill up.

A good tip here is to have a look at your car’s user guide and use a tyre pressure that suits your load. If you’re off on the long road and you’re heavily stacked, your tyres should be pumped harder than usual. For most standard cars, tyres pumped at 2-bar is better when you’re fully loaded and will increase fuel efficiency.