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How to use less fuel

How to use less fuel

Fuel prices can seem to be constantly rising. You can’t control the price at the pump, but there are many tricks that can reduce your car's thirst and see you handing over less cash at the petrol station. Here’s how to become a fuel-saving machine – it isn’t as hard as it may sound, and you should find that not only will you reach your destination, you'll have more money to spend when you get there.

Choose a car with a better fuel economy rating

Do you really need a large SUV? Safety and fuel efficiency are both important considerations when buying a new car. Check out a car’s fuel economy rating – this will help you factor efficiency and running costs into your decision.

The EECA’s fuel economy comparison tool allows you to compare the fuel economy rating of most cars. It is a simple six star rating system.

Reduce the weight in your car

  • The heavier your car, the higher your fuel consumption – remove any unessential items from within the car.
  • Try to combine trips, so that you don’t need to make any more than you have to.

Change your tyres

  • Fuel-efficient tyres can make a big difference to how much petrol your car uses. According to the government's Energywise website, these tyres can save you up to 7 per cent on fuel, or 15 cents a litre each time you drive. These tyres have less rolling resistance, so less force (and fuel) is needed to turn the wheels.
  • Check the pressure of your tyres regularly. Tyres pumped to hte correct pressure level will function better and help save you fuel (and they'll tend to last longer too). Check your driver’s manual – or look on the driver’s door – for the correct tyre pressure for your particular vehicle.  

Choose your petrol carefully

  • Avoid ethanol fuels if you can – ethanol stores energy less efficiently than gas.
  • Don’t fill up with costly premium fuel if your car was designed for regular.

Get your vehicle serviced regularly

  • Fix issues urgently that can affect your fuel efficiency, like low transmission fluid, sticky brake calipers, or a broken thermostat.
  • Tuning your car could lead to small, immediate gains in fuel efficiency, while resolving a major problem could see you make huge efficiency gains.
  • Buy the engine oil recommended for your particular vehicle, rather than the one on special that week.

The importance of aerodynamics  

  • A sleek sedan will use less fuel than a more bulky SUV.
  • Air conditioning – should you wind down the windows, or turn up the air conditioning? Using the AC can be more efficient, but only at high speeds such as when driving on the motorway. The AC takes power from the engine, burning more fuel, so at lower speeds you should only use it when absolutely necessary.
  • Avoid opening the sun roof and remove the roof rack. The extra resistance of these things can reduce efficiency by around 5 per cent.
  • The faster you go, the more air builds up in front of the car and the harder your car has to work to move it aside.

Use the right gear and drive smoothly

  • Keep the RPMs low. When driving a manual, you want to keep the RPMs low. Shift into a higher gear as soon as possible. You can achieve similar savings in an automatic through good use of the overdrive gear.
  • Coast into lights and stop signs – and accelerate away smoothly, but not too slowly.

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