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Top driving tips: How to stretch your fuel budget

2016-08-18 07:00

IMPORTANT TIPS: With the price of fuel set to decrease again, we list a number of ways motorists can make even fewer stops to the pumps. Image: iStock

Cape Town - When it comes to budgeting, many tend to curb spending in certain areas - checking unnecessary items off grocery lists and turning down the odd fancy dinner here and there.

Smart budgeting needn’t mean giving up the things you love. In fact, you can give your bank account a significant boost each month simply by changing a few of your driving habits.

Rory Judd, head of online marketing at MiWay, says: "Given the constant rise in the fuel price, the daily commute is wreaking increasing havoc on our bank accounts as the months tick on. Yet many of us have simply come to accept this, unable to see a way around dropping the kids off at school or dashing madly between meetings."   

The good news, says Judd, is you don’t have to switch your lifestyle to make your fuel take you further. Simply by changing some daily habits you probably didn’t know you had, you can create a handy budget buffer and keep enjoying the finer things in life.

Image: iStock

Here’s a handy checklist to help you achieve optimal fuel efficiency:

1 Plan your route
Planning is key to keeping your fuel spend to a minimum. Before heading off each morning, make sure to consider all the stops you’ll need to make during the day, combining trips and identifying shortcuts where possible. By doing so you’ll be able to shave kilometres off your commute and reduce the number of times you need to start your engine.

READ: Great news for SA road users - Another fuel price drop expected

2 Shake some weight off
Yes, every ounce counts. Anything that adds weight to your vehicle will have an impact on the amount of energy and fuel used to get it going. Make sure to remove any unnecessary accessories such as large rims and fancy spoilers to lighten the load. And don’t forget to take the suitcase from last week’s business trip out of the boot if you want to save a few bucks. 

3 Watch those wheels
Far too often we forget to check our tyre pressure and wheel alignment, but these can in fact impact fuel consumption enormously. When your tyre pressure is low, it increases resistance which in turn forces your car to use more fuel, while improper wheel alignment and balance can also put more strain on your engine. Make sure to give your tyres and wheels a once-over to reduce strain on your car and your finances.

READ: SA record - This VW Passat covers 2029km on a single tank of fuel

4 Ease up on the pedal pushing 
Once again, you’ve hit the snooze button one too many times and now you’re in a mad rush. Accelerating harder may get you to your destination faster, but it also guzzles fuel by the gallon. Maintaining a consistent speed improves fuel economy, so adjust your alarm and leave home a little earlier so as to allow for a steadier pace and fewer harsh accelerations and sharp breaks. This will also help you to avoid speeding fines, which also makes good economic sense. 

5 Don’t skimp on service
Don’t skimp on the maintenance of your car. Opting for a cheaper service may save you a couple of bucks in the short-term, but is likely to have a larger impact on your pocket in the long run. Lower quality parts affect the overall performance and reliability of your car and if they aren’t working optimally it becomes harder for your vehicle to keep moving - tapping into your fuel consumption.

READ: BP fights rising fuel prices for SA motorists

6 Dial down the frills
Many of us don’t think twice before cranking up the aircon on a hot summer’s day. But the additional pressure this places on the engine can impact your fuel consumption quite considerably. Try to be frugal with your on-the-go refrigeration. The same goes for sun roofs and open windows - the resistance created by air gushing through the car is a sure-fire recipe for a repeat visit to the petrol station. 

On a side note, parking your car in a warm spot during winter will reduce the time your car’s engine needs to warm up.

Read more on:    fuel efficiency  |  fuel focus  |  driving tips

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