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5 ways to save petrol – That you haven’t heard before

We all know that driving the speed limit and not leaving your car idling for too long saves fuel, but many of us don’t think about the type of engine oil we put into our cars, the condition of its tyres, the length of trips we take, how often we service the car, our driving manners, and how they all affect its efficiency.

“Motorists face another financial knock this month with petrol [prices] increasing by 37c per litre and diesel rising by 72c per litre. This means the fuel price remains below R25 per litre but is still around R20 a litre at least,” said Eugene Herbert, CEO of MasterDrive advanced driver training company.

“Petrol-using motorists will get approximately one less litre per tank for the same price while diesel users will get almost two litres less – tank size dependant, of course.”

With consumers’ wallets being squeezed from all angles, it may be worth taking the extra steps to ensure your ride is not using more fuel than it has to.

Low-quality oil

Using low-quality engine oil, old oil, or low-viscosity oil that is not fit for your particular make and model of car, places the pistons and other moveable parts under more pressure, which in turn causes the motor to burn more fuel.

“Check your manual or ask your dealership for the correct engine oil, and do not neglect to change your oil at the correct mileage,” said Herbert.

Tyre condition

Worn tyres have less traction on tarmac than newer wheels, and tyres not inflated correctly can be misaligned, both of which cause a car to consume more fuel than what is necessary.

This is besides other risk factors associated with tyres not being in the correct condition, such as a heightened probability of accidents.

As such, it’s of vital importance to inflate your vehicle’s tyres to the recommended pressure, which can usually be found inside the driver’s door jamb or in the owner’s manual, and if they are past their due date, to replace them.

If it has been 10 years since the tyres were replaced, including the spare tyre, it’s best to put on new rubbers as a precaution.

Checking the age of your vehicle’s tyres can be done by locating the tyre code – a marking that indicates the date of manufacture – which is made up of four digits, the first two denoting the week and the second two the year of production

This tyre was produced in the 47th week of 2014

Avoid short trips

Trips of 5km or less use more propellant per kilometre than longer journeys as the engine has not warmed up yet, so it’s best to get all your chores done on the same day to get more mileage from a tank.

“On the other side of the debate, vehicles with newer technology do not need to be warmed up for longer than what is necessary to warm the interior or defog the windshield,” said Herbert.

In other words, extended idling in a modern car can potentially use more fuel than what it saves.

In older models, a few minutes of idling would have been necessary to warm up the motor, but in newer ones, only around 30 seconds is needed to get the liquids running.

Regular servicing

Regular maintenance and servicing are key to optimal fuel economy, as worn or faulty parts cause a motor to work harder and burn petrol faster.

Common examples include the owner failing to replace spark plugs, old injectors, or fuel and air filters, which will usually be spotted and done by a trained mechanic during a routine service.

“Do not neglect to replace faulty parts or neglect to service your vehicle on time,” advises MasterDrive’s CEO.

Driving manners

Driving in the wrong gear at high RPMs, accelerating harshly from a standstill, or driving in a high gear up hills or around corners uses more fuel than gentle, methodical movements.

Drivers of manual cars with poor clutch control or worn clutches also cause increased consumption. Practicing and perfecting clutch management and, if severely worn, replacing the clutch, will therefore assist in improving fuel economy.

“Every effort one makes to conserve fuel makes a difference. When all of these are combined, the effect will be even greater,” Herbert concludes.

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