Fuel isn’t cheap and every time you start the car, the needle on that gauge is heading in one direction. But, just like you might turn off the lights in a room when you don’t need them to save electricity costs, there are ways of reducing the amount of energy your car uses to get you where you’re going.
Love your car because a little love can go a long way to reducing the burden on your bank balance. In fact, a well maintained car can use 10 to 20% less fuel than an inadequately maintained one. Washing your car regularly for example won’t just make it sparkle in the sun - it’ll also streamline your ride. Regular servicing, ensuring your car is fitted with the best tyres for your regular driving conditions, maintaining the recommended tyre pressures and correct wheel alignment all also contribute to potential cost savings.
Your car will perform more economically if you travel at a more constant speed. Don't exceed the limits and, if your car is fitted with cruise control, consider using it. Driving faster doesn't necessarily mean you'll get to your destination sooner, and there are obvious safety issues. Driving at 100km/h instead of 110km/h, can cut about 13% off your fuel bill.
Try to drive more smoothly. Lay off the pedals when in more built up areas. Avoid accelerating hard from a stop, and instead let the car move off smoothly. Don't brake hard for corners and accelerate out. Slow down gently and negotiate and exit the corner on a light throttle. Your passengers will be grateful too.
Monitoring the road ahead and maintaining a safe following distance will prepare you for sudden stops in traffic flow and prevent late braking. Ease off the pedal if the traffic lights are about to change, the speed limit is about to lower, or you're approaching slow or stopped traffic.
If you drive an automatic, allow the transmission to change up early by accelerating on a light throttle and, if your car’s a manual, change gear early but don't labour the engine
You could save money off your annual fuel bill just by changing your approach to navigating hills. Lift off the throttle as you get to the crest of a hill and use the car's momentum to get you over the top. Build up speed before an uphill stretch.
Don’t overdo the air con. While it’s more fuel efficient to have it on than it is to have the windows down creating drag, constant use will increase your bill. You may need to find that balance of comfort and economy. Other features such as the rear window demist can also be a drain, so make sure you switch them off when they've done their job.
The heavier a vehicle is, the harder the engine has to work so keep your load down. Take those golf clubs and that sports gear out of the boot or remove the bike or roof racks when you're not using them.
There’s a reason that a lot of new vehicles are equipped with Auto Stop/Start systems. When conditions permit, it can stop and start the car in the blink of an eye to conserve that extra little bit of fuel. If you don’t have Stop/Start, avoid leaving your engine in idle for too long. If you have to drive in peak traffic, open up more space between you and the car ahead, to avoid constant braking.
About a third of New Zealand car trips are less than two kilometres in length and vehicles use more fuel when they're cold. Cut down on unnecessary driving and not only will you reduce your fuel bills, you’ll cut the chances of mechanical wear developing on your engine – and you’ll be able to contribute to better air quality at the same time!
With competitive fuel discounting in some areas of the country, always take note of the price at the stations in your area. Some are cheaper than others. At the same time, take advantage of fuel discount options like AA Smartfuel.