Easy everyday tips to save money on petrol

May 29, 2022
Fear no more, because we've put together a list of practical do's and don'ts to help you decrease your fuel consumption. Source: Getty

Are you sick of the strain petrol is having on your life, both in time and money? Are you tired of paying insane prices for fuel, only to arrive back at the petrol station again in a matter of days? Are you exhausted from being told that the only thing you can do to save money on fuel is by cashing in your car for something electric-run? Well, fear no more, because Starts at 60 have put together a list of practical do’s and don’ts to help you decrease your fuel consumption and begin saving time, money, and a whole lot of unnecessary environmental wastage. Buckle up because this list will have you zooming into the future of fuel efficient living or as RACQ calls it, “eco-driving”.

The Do’s

Regular and up-to-date services

It’s super important to take your car for regular services to ensure the vehicle is running and performing to the best of its ability, and that any problems can be addressed as soon as possible. According to the US Department of Energy, “Tuning a neglected vehicle or fixing one that failed an emissions test can increase fuel economy by an average of 4%, based on the repair type and quality”. Make sure you are up-to-date with when your vehicle is due for a service, and in the meantime, be sure to keep an eye out for any vehicle issues that could be affecting the efficiency of your vehicle’s performance.

Turn off the vehicle when parked

If your car is parked, you are better off (fuel wise) switching off the engine even if it is for a short amount of time. However, if you are simply at a red light, you are better off keeping the car running because you’ll likely end up burning more fuel turning the car off and restarting it than you would leaving it running for a number of seconds, especially when red lights are likely to be a regular occurrence. Note that vehicles whose engines are programmed to turn off when the car stops moving, are perfectly safe and different rules apply.

Fuel is compatible for your vehicle

If you don’t already know this, then it’s likely you’ve had your fair share of car troubles. Putting the correct fuel into your vehicle is extremely important to both the way it runs and its longevity. It is important that consumers use the type of fuel recommended by the owner manual that comes with the vehicle to ensure the engine is taken care of. The consequences of putting the wrong fuel into your car are undeniably catastrophic and could likely destroy your vehicle. An octane rating of 91, 95 or 98 is necessary for every vehicle given its designed to resist detonation. The recommended octane rating for your vehicle specifically will be outlined in the owner manual.

Smooth, steady driving

Smooth and steady driving may seem necessary, but in fact, it’s super important if you’re looking to save fuel and preserve the condition of your engine. Driving at a fairly consistent speed and breaking/accelerating gently is highly recommended when operating a vehicle. RACQ recommends starting to slow down early when approaching traffic lights and intersections. For manual cars, they urge drivers to shift through gears quickly to reduce revs and save fuel. Being in the correct gear when driving a manual is equally important to ensure the vehicle isn’t working overtime. Cruise control (for automatic vehicles) is also a great way to keep your driving steady when travelling on a highway and long distances.

Note: Harsh braking is also something to avoid whenever possible as it is notorious for burning significantly large amounts of fuel.

Aircon vs window down

Although it’s true that aircon burns fuel consumption, it’s only true when the car is running at a speed less than 80km/h. RACQ explains that driving under 80km/h with the windows winded down and the aircon off can help save on fuel, whereas if the car is travelling over this speed, the drag from the open windows will result in higher fuel use than closing the window and using the aircon.

Regular monitoring of fuel consumption

It’s something that not a lot of people do, but according to RACQ, regular monitoring of your fuel consumption is an efficient way of keeping track of just how much fuel you are using which can ultimately help you to take steps in better managing your everyday fuel consumption. This can be done easily through the use of a fuel-monitoring app or alternatively, via a notebook. Know your fuel footprint, and make start taking the steps to decrease it.

Decrease excess weight

It’s well-known that travelling with excess weight in the car will result in higher fuel consumption given that the vehicle has to work harder to drive. Try to travel as light as possible. You could do this by removing any necessary items from the car that you don’t need at the time. It’s simple – travel lighter, travel smarter.

The Dont’s

Over-revving

Over-revving your car isn’t going to do it any favours. Harsh revving is an easy way to burn fuel, whether you’re driving a manual or an automatic. Choice recommends keeping revs to a minimum when driving a manual vehicle and suggests easing “back slightly on the accelerator once the car gathers momentum”. Revving is an easy thing to avoid and it could potentially save you a lot of money on both fuel and the general wear and tear of your vehicle.

Try to avoid ultra high speeds

It’s impossible to avoid high speeds, especially when it comes to driving on a highway. However, it is important to note that speeds over 90km/h will substantially increase your fuel consumption. According to Choice, you could be looking at a 25% increase in fuel consumption at 110km/h, a significant incline. Where possible, try to keep your speed around the 90km/h or below mark, depending on the environment and other mitigating factors.

Stopping/Restarting

Regular stopping and starting of your car is something that should be avoided as much as possible. This kind of behaviour will likely result in you burning more fuel due to the engine having to work over time. As suggested above, smooth and steady driving is the most fuel efficient way to operate your vehicle, however, turning your vehicle off when completely stationary is the way to go.

Short trips

Short trips are often unavoidable given we live in a world where most people prefer to avoid walking whenever possible. However, where possible, it is recommended that you avoid driving short distances given the vehicle can use up to 20% more fuel due to the engine being cold. If it’s possible to ride a bike or walk, it might save you a decent amount of money in the long run.

Idling

We are all a culprit of it, especially on hot days when we don’t want to roll the windows down because the sweet car aircon is just so satisfying. However, it should be known that idling is a huge fuel burner and should be avoided. Whether you’re waiting to pick someone up or you’re just passing time, idling will likely see you have to make more than regular trips to the fuel station. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “Idling reduces your vehicle’s fuel economy, costs you money, and creates pollution” and “idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel and produces more emissions that contribute to smog and climate change than stopping and restarting your engine does”.

Over fill fuel tank

It may seem unlikely, but over filling your fuel tank isn’t going to do you any favours. Over fuelling your car can lead to a multitude of undesirable vehicle issues so RACQ recommends only filling your car to the first click to ensure the tank doesn’t overfill.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.

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