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Best ways to save on fuel consumption

Here are principles to follow to squeeze as much mileage out of every litre of fuel as possible.

Keep these kind of guidelines for driving in South Africa in mind the next time you want to keep a close watch on that ever descending fuel meter.

Whoa! Slow the pace

The faster you drive the more fuel you use - it's as simple as that. Sticking to the speed limit is not only the most important rule when it comes to road safety but will also save you a wad of cash in your back pocket. 

Refrain from revving

Revving off into the distance might look super cool on Top Gear, but it isn't the answer to economic fuel consumption or your safety. If your car is an automatic, use moderate acceleration so that the transmission shifts into higher gears. Gear shift drivers should shift down before accelerating. If you accelerate and need to put on the breaks straight away, you are wasting precious fuel. 

Hang back with the big guys

In serious bumper to bumper traffic jams the pace seems to slow down and then pick up again while more heavy duty vehicles, especially trucks, seem to hang back and take their time driving along at an easy pace. There is a reason why they do this. A steady pace and hanging back keeps gear shifting to a bare minimum making travelling from point A to point B a far more economical journey. It takes less fuel to keep a car moving than it does to get it going at an increasing rate.

Hanging back with trucks and buses is a great way to save fuel and frustration.

Photo by: matthias_r

Consider an upgrade

While new wheels and tyres can improve handling, they create more rolling resistance and increase the amount of fuel used (if they are wider than the stock tyres). If you're looking to upgrade your wheels, tyres and rims then do yourself a great favour and keep the old ones if they are in a reasonably good condition. The stock tyres are best for longer road trips giving you a smoother ride and remains one of the best ways to save petrol.

Make smaller (but wiser) choices

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle then it’s a good time to look at how much car you actually need. A basic rule of thumb to keep in mind and consider when making a purchase is: the smaller the car, the less fuel. Perhaps it’s a good time to consider buying a hybrid which saves even more fuel, making it a fuel-efficient option. There are more and more emerging choices with regards to Hybrid vehicles, so if you don’t like the one, you might very well like another with options ranging between the Honda CR-Z and a range of Prius models. Driving smaller cars remains one of the best ways to save fuel.

Pure pressure

Keeping an eye on your vehicle's tyre pressure is a good idea if you’re looking to gain as much mileage from your tank as you possibly can. Tyres lose air at approximately one psi every month and one pound per-square-inch (psi) for every 10 degree drop in temperature. Tyres with less pressure than they require create more rolling resistance, meaning you will need to use more fuel to keep the car moving. Purchase a reliable tyre gauge no less than once a month. Driving warms up the tyres and the air inside them therefore it is best to check the tyre pressure when they are cool or you will get a false reading. Your car's owner manual with give you the correct tyre pressure for your vehicle.

Check your filter

Filter checks and changes are one of the best ways to save petrol. Dirty air filters restrict air flow to the engine which doesn’t make for great performance or fuel efficiency. Filters are simple to check and change; just remove the filter and hold it up to the sun. If light shines through, you need to replace it. Rather use filters that are cleaned - they are far more cost effective than throwing away paper filters and have less impact on the environment. 

Use the air-con sparingly

Your air-conditioner can use up to 10% more fuel when operating, so roll down your window and let the wind blow through your hair. That said, if you drive faster that 80 km/h the air-con may be more efficient considering the wind resistance from open windows.

As drivers in South Africa, we can't do anything about the cost of fuel, but luckily we can control the amount of fuel we spare! 

Jacqueline Freer

Jacqueline Freer Title: Blog Contributor
Affiliation: Drive South Africa Blog Jacqueline has a career background consisting of nightlife eventing and entertainment fused with hospitality then blending with branding and business and over the past few years focusing on digital media. Her personal passions include the arts, travel, food, film and photography. Please visit the Inrichmint Media Studio website.
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1 Response on this page.Add your own

  1. Gravatar Louis Stevens says:

    I just find it strange that each year just before the festive season starts and millions of South Africans hit the road, that the government suddenly finds ‘legitimate’ excuses to raise the petrol price.

    The government knows we can’t go without petrol and will be forced to pay the price they state, even though we pay upwards of 20c per liter more than Americans do.

    Reply to this comment




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