Cut your petrol costs

The price of fuel just keeps getting higher – and it’s not dropping any time soon. Moneybags spoke to various organisations, taxi drivers and experienced road trippers, and put together the top tips for cutting your petrol costs.

Break Bad Habits

1. Maintain an even speed
Every time your foot hits the accelerator you use up petrol, and the harder you accelerate, the more petrol you consume. If you proceed at an even speed you will lessen the need to brake and accelerate, and you’ll consume far less petrol.

2. Turn off the aircon
The aircon compressor uses engine power to function, thereby increasing fuel usage. Try to keep your car parked somewhere cool or use a windscreen protector.
If it’s hot and you need some relief, drive with your windows open at lower speeds when navigating day to day traffic, and use the aircon when driving fast on the highway or long distance journeys.

3. Don’t fill up completely
This’ll keep the weight of your car down. A full tank is heavier, so even when you do fill up, fill up a quarter or half of the tank.

4. Check your tyre pressure
If your tyre pressure is low, the drag on your car will require more power from your engine, and therefore more fuel. Check your tyres every couple of weeks, and always before and after a long trip.

5. Change gears efficiently
Gear up early and gear down late. If you need to accelerate, shift down a gear quickly and then change up a gear as soon as you feel you can. In an automatic: use your overdrive gears as this will keep your RPM down. Put your car into neutral when you’re stopped, and use cruise control to maintain an even speed.

6. Lose some weight
The heavier your car, the more petrol you’re going to use. Make sure you’re not driving around with a full boot.

7. Turn your car off
If you’re at a standstill for anywhere between 30 sec and one minute, you’re going to use more petrol than if you turn your engine off. This doesn’t mean switching your car off at a traffic light.

8. Slow down
Driving slowly and smoothly is one of the most effective ways to save petrol. Every time you hit that accelerator, you’re increasing your fuel usage.

9. Choose your routes carefully
Stop streets and speed bumps lead to more braking and accelerating. This means that sometimes those handy shortcuts we’ve discovered are in fact using up more petrol than a slow and steady flow of traffic.

10. Take care of your car
Regular servicing and ensuring you check your tyre pressure, water and oil will keep your car functioning at optimal level. It’s better to maintain your car than to neglect it for fear of servicing costs. A small niggle may be forgettable at first, but it often leads to bigger and more expensive problems.

11. Remove your headgear
Keeping your bicycle or luggage rack on your roof not only increases the weight of the car but also affects wind resistance, making your car work harder to drive the same distance.

Cash in

12. Make use of cashback petrol cards
Currently, FNB is the only bank offering fuel rewards. With your FNB Credit Card or FNB Linked Petro Card, you can collect EBucks and cash them in as petrol. For example if you collect 1 200 points every month over a 12 month period, you will get 5% of your fuel spend back. Your reward rate is based on your average budget balance and your credit card payments must be up to date. For more information, visit FNB Fuel Rewards.

13. Make use of loyalty programmes
Look out for programmes like Discovery Insure’s VitalityDrive – an incentive-based programme which offers up to 40% fuel rewards to Discovery Insure policy holders. Your fuel rewards are based on your monthly fuel spend and are subject to certain terms and conditions.

Make some changes

Sitting in morning traffic, it is sad to note that most cars contain only one person. Imagine the change to your petrol bill, the traffic and the total carbon footprint of commuters if we could bring down the number of cars on the road during peak hours?
If you’re one of the many who commutes alone to work every day, try mixing your week up with one of our petrol-saving suggestions below:

14. Start a lift club
Starting a lift club at work or for your kids is an excellent way to save fuel and cut your carbon footprint. If  four of you are sharing the same journey to work every week, you’re paying only a third of your usual commute.

15. Take public transport
Public transport in South Africa has been a problem for many years – unsafe, unreliable, or simply non-existent. However, recently­ the government has invested in resolving these issues by building new transport systems such as the Rea Vaya and Gautrain in Johannesburg and My Citi Bus in Cape Town. After a lifetime of driving everywhere in your car, it’s hard to break the habit – but traveling on public transport once or twice a week will certainly save you money.

And if you’re going on holiday:

16. Rent a small car
The smaller the car, the less fuel is required to power the engine (unless, of course, you are driving a small sports car). On your next holiday check with the dealership which vehicles are most economical.

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*All prices and information correct at time of publication and subject to change thereafter.