fuel-saving
fuel-saving

3 million ways to save fuel

Darryl Starr has been driving and writing about cars since 1967 (a long time).

Over the years he estimates that he has been clocked up more than 3 million kilometres behind the wheel.

Almost every week for 53 years, he made the trip from Albury to Melbourne to return and pick up test vehicles – a 700km round trip.

Every car had 1500-2000km added to the odometer by the time he’d finished with it.

Here’s Darryl’s tips on what you can do to save fuel and reduce rising travel costs.

You may have some tips of your own that you would like to share?

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WITH fuel prices around the country at a near all-time high, there are several ways you can conserve this expensive commodity — whether you drive a petrol, diesel or even hybrid-powered vehicle.

Fuel-efficient driving is easy and it can save you hundreds of dollars in fuel each year.

Adopt the driving techniques listed below and you can lower your vehicle’s fuel consumption — and carbon dioxide emissions — by as much as 25 per cent.

And that can result in big savings over a 12-month period.

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First

Shop around. Fuel prices can differ from state to state, town to town, suburb to suburb, and neighbourhood to neighbourhood.

There are several fuel watch websites you can got to and apps are also available. In my home town, Prime Television also has a fuel watch segment as part of its evening bulletin.

Website examples are petrolspy.com.au, racv.com.au and fuelcheck.nsw.gov.com

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Keep an eye on prices.

Keep tank topped up

Keeping the tank topped up means no pump shock when you need to fill up.

Not only will keeping the tank full help the budget, but it also helps stop expansion and contraction within the tank. 

Don’t be tempted to add more fuel after the pump trigger clicks off.

Always use the correct RON number as specified by the vehicle manufacturer eg. 91, 95, 98 RON if a petrol-engined vehicle.

Some can operate on E10 — but check first.

 

Accelerate gently

 The harder you accelerate the more fuel you use.

In the city, you can use less fuel by squeezing the accelerator pedal gently.

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Fill ‘er up.

Maintain a steady speed

When your speed is not constant, you use more fuel and spend more money than you need to.

Use cruise control for highway driving, where conditions permit.

 

‘Read’ the traffic

Look ahead while you are driving to see what’s coming up. And keep a comfortable distance between your vehicle and the one in front.

By looking closely at what pedestrians and other cars are doing, and pre-empting what they will do next, you can keep your speed as steady as possible and use less fuel.

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Don’t overload the car.

Avoid high speeds

Keep to the speed limit. Most modern vehicles are more fuel-efficient when they are travelling under 90km/h.

Above this speed, they use more fuel. For example, at 120km/h per hour, a vehicle uses about 20 per cent more fuel than at 100km/h.

 

Coast to decelerate

Every time you use your brakes, you waste forward momentum.

By looking ahead at how traffic is behaving, you can often see well in advance when it’s time to slow down.

You will conserve fuel and save money by taking your foot off the accelerator and coasting to slow down, rather than using the brakes.

If your vehicle has a manual transmission, DO NOT use neutral to coast.

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Don’t waste a drop.

Do not idle your vehicle

Turn off your engine when stopped for more than 60 seconds, except when in traffic.

And don’t start your vehicle and let it idle ‘to warm’ up. Modern engines are designed to start and drive — just keep the revs down for a kilometre or so until the engine reaches correct operating temperature.

 

Check tyre pressures monthly

Driving a vehicle with tyres under-inflated by 56kPa (8 pounds per square inch) can increase fuel consumption by up to 4 per cent.

It can also reduce the life of your tyres by more than 10,000km.

You can find the right tyre pressure for your vehicle on the tyre information placard attached to the driver or passenger side door post — or in the owner’s manual.

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It’s exhausting work.

Manual transmission use

If your vehicle has a manual transmission, pay particular attention to the rev counter, which shows engine speed.

Use it to know when to shift a manual transmission for the best fuel efficiency.

The higher the revs, the more fuel the engine is burning. Shift through the lower gears smoothly and quickly and build up speed in the higher gears.

 

Reduce overall weight

The heavier your vehicle, the more fuel it will use. Simple.

If the boot is full of unnecessary items, leave them at home. Keeping your vehicle clean also helps.

For instance, if you notice mud under the guards, wash it off. The less it weighs, the less fuel your vehicle will use.

The fuel consumption of a mid-size car increases by about 1 per cent for every 25kg of weight that it carries.

If you have roof or bicycle racks, take them off when you’re not using them. Aerodynamic drag can increase fuel consumption by as much as 20 per cent on the highway.

 

Air conditioning usage

Air conditioning can increase a vehicle’s fuel consumption by as much as 20 per cent. Use it sparingly.

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Lay off the air.

Fuel consumption display

Most of today’s vehicles have a fuel consumption read-out in the instrument panel.

Some vehicles come equipped with even more sophisticated displays that analyse speed variations, shift points for manual transmissions and driving behaviours such as acceleration and braking times.

By changing your driving habits, your vehicle can consume 15 per cent less fuel by acting on the feedback that fuel consumption displays provide.

If you know what the manufacturer’s average fuel consumption guide is, then there is the challenge to try and match – or better still – better it.

 

Plan ahead

If you are planning a long-distance trip, map out your route.

Listen to traffic reports and avoid accidents, road construction and other trouble spots (most satnavs will get you around any trouble spots).

Avoid roads that cut through major cities and are dotted with stoplights, intersections and pedestrians, and always use multi-lane highways where you can keep to a constant speed.

When at home, combine your daily runs rather than stagger them during the day. Avoid rush-hour and backtracking.

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Keep the tyres pumped

 

Drive less

The best way to reduce fuel consumption is to drive less.

If you can walk or ride a bike to your destination, do so. Use public transport, car pool — or work from home if you can.

 

Maintenance

The most important thing you need to do is to keep your vehicle properly maintained as per the owner’s service/warranty manual.

Got any tips of your own, drop us a line?

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Avoid traffic snarls.

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