27 February 2012

10 Tips to Help You Save on Petrol

This weekend petrol jumped 23c a litre in our vicinity! Actually it jumped 23c a litre in a matter of minutes on Saturday morning. Apart from that being an outrageous increase, it adds around $837 a year to the running costs of our family car.

Now I know it will come down, and I can fill-up on the cheaper day as I always do, but even so that is more than a week's wage gone on one fuel price rise.

While we are focussing on keeping power bills down, we need to remember, or be reminded, to keep our fuel bills down too.

Here are my top 10 ways to save petrol:

1. Fill up first thing in the morning when it's still cool. This is especially relevant during the hot summer months. The explanation I have for this is as petrol is gaseous it becomes denser when it's cool. As the petrol pumps measure volume you'll get better value for money buying when the fuel is at its most dense, such as early morning or late night. I've not been able to find any counter-claims on this one, so I figure it's worth a try.

2. Maintain the correct tyre pressure for your car. You'll find the information in the handbook if you need it. Under inflated tires reduce fuel efficiency by 2% for every pound they are under inflated. Under inflation also causes premature tyre wear giving your tyres a shorter life.

3. Drive smoothly - avoid unnecessary acceleration. Drive at a good distance from the car in front so you can anticipate and travel with the flow of traffic. This avoids unnecessary acceleration and frequent repetitive braking that ends up wasting fuel. It's also far safer.

4. Avoid using air conditioning whenever possible. Air conditioning reduces fuel economy by 10% to 20% when operating.. Use the air ventilation system instead. However at speeds of over 80 km/h, use of air conditioning is better for fuel consumption than an open window.

5. Don't drive with open windows when travelling at high speeds. Open windows on the highway can reduce fuel efficiency by 10%. It's much better to use the ventilation system or air conditioning.

6. Remove roof racks and other items which make your car less aerodynamic when they're not being used. Leaving them on only makes your car less fuel efficient and costs you money.

7. There is no need to let your car idle. Even on cold mornings, cars don't need to idle more than 30 seconds. Newer cars are designed to be driven almost immediately and letting your car idle longer is a waste of petrol. By having the engine switched off, even for a short period, you will save more fuel than is lost from the burst of fuel involved in restarting the engine. The increased wear and tear from doing this is negligible.

8. Remove all the excess weight from your car. Many people use their car boot as a storage space adding unneeded kilos to the car's weight. This unnecessary weight reduces the car's fuel efficiency by about 2% for every 50kg. So if you don’t need the pram, take it out. Make sure the kids take all their bits and bobs with them when they get out of the car and drop those bags off at the op shop straight away. Driving around with all these things in the boot is costing you a small fortune every year. How much weight is your car carrying?

9. Minimise use. Plan your trips so that you're doing a number of things in one go. You'll save time and fuel. If it's just a short trip think about walking or cycling. If its longer trip is public transport an alternative? Try to avoid the stop-start of peak hour if it's at all possible or try car pooling. Perhaps you can start earlier or later to avoid the traffic.

10. Service your car regularly. Keep your vehicle well tuned and reduce greenhouse gases by up to 5 per cent. Having your car well maintained will help it keep its resale value too.

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