Here's how better driving habits can save you fuel - 10 top tips

Following a massive fuel price hike in June, consumers were hit by yet another increase on 4 July - 26 cents a litre for 93 octane, 23 cents a litre for 95 octane and 26 cents a litre for 0.05% sulphur diesel.

"People often underestimate the impact that their driving habits have on fuel consumption, but minor tweaks can help protect your pocket at the pump," says Susan Steward, Marketing Manager of Budget Insurance.

Smart driving can save fuel

According to the Department of Energy in the United States, smart driving could increase your fuel economy by as much as 40%, meaning that on a tank that normally gets you 650km, you could get more than 900km.

READ: Record-high fuel hike: Here's how much you'll be paying for petrol in SA

This translates to almost a tankful of savings for every two times you fill up!

To help you further reduce your fuel consumption, Budget Insurance recommends some practical tips:

1. Align and inflate
Incorrect wheel alignment and underinflated tyres leads to increased resistance between the tyres and the road, which in turn leads to higher fuel consumption, as well as increased wear and tear on tyres. Check your tyre pressure at least once a month. Alignment should be checked at least once a year, but a check every six months, or after incidents like hitting a pothole or curb, is advisable.

2.
Smooth and steady
Every harsh brake and acceleration guzzles fuel. Keep a safe following distance and avoid speeding off from a green traffic light. Your fuel tank, and pocket, will thank you. 

3.
Squash the need for speed
High speeds result in high fuel consumption. It’s as simple as that. At 110km/h your car uses up to 25% more fuel than it would cruising at a more moderate 90km/h.

4.
Hike it up a gear 
As a rule of thumb: the higher the gear, the lower the petrol consumption, so always drive in the highest gear possible, without straining the engine by letting the revs drop too low.

5.
Don’t be a drag
There are many things that cause or increase drag, including: driving with the windows open and attaching carriers or bikes to the roof. To decrease drag, keep the windows closed, especially at high speeds, and attach additional weight to the rear of the car instead of the roof. 

6. Air-con control 
Did you know that your car uses more fuel powering your air-con when you’re travelling at low speed and less at a higher speed? This is because the higher the revs, the more power the engine produces, allowing it to run the air-con more efficiently. If you’re driving a short distance, and travelling at a lower speed (under 80km/h), open the window instead of switching on the air-con. 

7. Have that health check 
Many components in your car impact fuel consumption and if they’re not working properly, you could be paying a hefty price. Everything from dirty oil and dirty air filters to dirty injectors,  a faulty exhaust, worn spark plugs and low coolant levels can contribute to bad fuel efficiency so make sure they all get a regular check-up.

8. Practice patience 
If you can avoid major congestion, do. It will end up saving you time, frustration and of course, fuel. If you can’t wait, use the technology at your fingertips by checking alternative, less congested routes, on traffic apps like Waze.

9. Team up and tap out 
Joining a lift club is not only a great way to save fuel and reduce wear and tear on your car, it can also be a great stress reliever, giving you the freedom to relax while someone else is driving. 

10. Switch on and go 
There’s nothing like a warm car on a cold winter morning but that time spent idling while your car warms up is costing you money. Don’t let your car idle for much longer than a minute. 

“If you fill up 48 times a year at R800 per tank, a 40% reduction in fuel consumption could save you more than R15 000 a year. So, just by changing the way you drive and keeping your car in tip top shape, you could have an extra R1 250 at your disposal each month. Who can say no to that?” concludes Steward.