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How SA drivers can save fuel with good road manners

2016-07-05 09:02

BE COURTEOUS ON OUR ROADS: Les McMaster, chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), says being courteous, friendly and patient on SA's roads could save you fuel. Image: iStock

Cape Town - Along with the unexpected cold snap set to hit parts of South Africa this winter, consumers have also been advised to snap out of their bad spending habits to lighten the burden of the recent fuel, interest rate and electricity price increases. 

Les McMaster, chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), says in hard times consumers think twice about their expenditure and many are left scrambling to meet the running costs of their vehicles. 

One of the ways motorists can reduce the running costs of a vehicle is to improve fuel economy. But how exactly do you do this? What really works in SA?

Be more considerate on the road

McMaster says: “It may seem petty, but being a considerate, patient driver is good for your fuel tank. Aggressive, agitated drivers tend to stop and start abruptly, especially in city traffic, and this places a lot of wear and tear on the car.

"Take it easy on your brakes and transmission and your car – and fuel tank – will return the favour."  

He adds that it isn’t advisable to forego a service or maintenance if your car needs it because it could end up costing you a lot more in the long run. 

“If your car is out of warranty, it’s a good idea to shop around for better servicing deals. Independent specialist dealers are often a lot cheaper. For peace of mind, get references for the service centre before handing over your keys.”

Miwa says it has debunked five fuel-consumption myths and has published as many fuel-saving tips:

Debunking fuel-consumption myths:

1. MYTH: You may have to drive a smaller car to save fuel

- Many of the most fuel-efficient cars in the world are mid-size or large cars.

2. MYTH: You need to warm your car up before you drive it

- Modern cars can be driven within seconds of being started and the quickest way to warm up a car’s engine is in fact to drive it. 

3. MYTH: As a car ages, so its fuel efficiency decreases

- A car that is properly maintained, no matter what the age, will retain its fuel efficiency for many years.

4. MYTH: Manual transmissions get better fuel economy than automatics

- Advances in automatic transmissions have improved their efficiency to the point that automatic vehicles often get the same or even better fuel economy than manual transmission vehicles. 

5. MYTH: Keep your windows and air conditioner off on a long road trip

- This makes no difference to your fuel usage at all.


1. FACT: Make sure the tyres are the right pressure

- Under-inflated tyres can reduce your fuel efficiency by up to three per cent.

2. FACT: Stick to the speed limit

- This could save you over 10% on fuel, and even more on the highways.

3. FACT: Don’t idle your vehicle

- Turning the ignition off instead of idling, even for just a minute or more, can save you almost 20% on fuel.

4. FACT: Avoid rush hour

- It’s near impossible for thousands of motorists to avoid it but stay out of rush hour if you can – the constant starting, stopping and idling is a fuel-economy killer!

5. FACT: Keep the boot light

- Extra weight in the boot requires extra power and extra fuel from your engine, especially if you drive a smaller car.

McMaster concludes: “The bottom line is that good fuel economy starts with driving a fuel-efficient car, buddying-up on trips, and maintaining your car. The tips we’ve provided will help to keep the needle out of the red to provide that much-needed budget breather."

Read more on:    fuel  |  fuel economy

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