Political instability in Egypt and a weakening Australian dollar have caused fuel prices to jump above the $1.50/L mark. Taking advantage of fuel price cycles, apps like MotorMouth, and supermarket discount vouchers are the cheapskate’s way of minimising fuel costs*, but you don’t have to be price conscious at the pump to save money.
- Get organised – plan your trip so that you don’t spend time and fuel driving in circles. Plus, a ‘cold engine is less fuel-efficient and emits more pollutants than a warm engine’ (via RACQ), hence cars are less efficient at the start of a trip and during shorter trips. They also guzzle more fuel when stopping and starting in peak hour traffic. Therefore try to fit a couple of errands into one circular trip during off-peak hours and or along less congested routes. Better yet, plan for extra commuting time and walk, cycle, or PT instead.
- Aim for a smoother ride – in a Cars Guide article, rally car driver Ed Ordynski notes, ‘[e]very time you use the brakes it costs you fuel’. Minimise breaking and accelerating. Watch the flow of traffic and the contour of the land; use these to conserve momentum.
- Get rid of the dead weight – according to The Telegraph, ‘Weight and drag are enemies of good fuel consumption.’ Oops. No more leaving fresh bags of kitty litter in the car for weeks on end or filling the tank up to the max.
- Use windows and air conditioning wisely – air conditioning adds an extra 10% to fuel consumption (via Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population, and Communities). Open windows, however, increases drag, especially at high speeds. Try using air conditioning and or open windows in short bursts instead of all the time.
- Keep the car in good shape – keep tyres at the maximum recommended pressure, since a tyre that’s under-inflated by just 1 psi will reduce efficiency by up to 3% (via Cars Guide). A frequently serviced engine will help by up to 4% (via Cars Guide) and aligned wheels not only improve handling, they also improve efficiency by 2.5% (via Volvo Trucks).
*Note: driving out of your way to get to a cheap(er) service station will negate any potential savings. Be price-conscious but be sensible when it comes to fuel consumption.