Sometimes we can predict when fuel prices will soar (long weekends & Easter holidays anyone?!) However, the international benchmark price for petrol has the biggest effect on the long-term price of petrol. Global oil prices are affected by manufacturing costs, supply and demand, and competition. We know there are many things you would rather be spending your money on, so we’ve outlined some ways you can maximise your vehicle’s fuel efficiency to get more bang for your buck.

Get the best fuel efficiency by….

1. Filling up before your tank is empty

Most drivers tend to fill up when they’re running low on petrol, as it’s usually one of those jobs we’d rather put off until absolutely necessary. However, this leaves us at the mercy of the price of petrol on that particular day. Getting into the habit of topping up when prices are cheap will put you back in control.

2. Choose the best time to fill up

Fill up in the morning The best time to fill up is early in the morning. This is because petroleum is stored underground and is denser in the morning when the ground is still cool. As the temperature rises during the day, the petroleum expands. Discover the cheapest day of the week to fill up In most cities, petrol is cheapest on a Tuesday and Wednesday due to less consumer demand. Thursdays and Fridays tend to be the most expensive days as people fill up after a long work week and in preparation for the weekend. However, this may not always be the case, so consider downloading a cheap fuel-finder app for the best fuel prices in your area. Obviously, with long weekends and public holidays you will generally see a price hike, so try to get in early. Also, you may want to consider using the major supermarket coupons, which can take a few cents per litre off the total cost. Remember; every little bit counts!

3. Tyre Pressure

Properly inflated tyres will help you to get the best fuel efficiency, so ensure you check them regularly. To find the correct tyre pressure for your car, look under the bonnet or on the label inside the door. Ideally, the pressure should be checked when the tyres are cold because heat causes air to expand. If the tyres are hot, or you are carrying a heavy load, you should add around 4 PSI to the recommended pressure to help with the extra strain on the tyres. Inflate your vehicle’s tyres to the highest pressure recommended by the manufacture and make sure your wheels are properly aligned. Looking after your tyres will not only reduce your fuel consumption, but it will also extend tyre life and improve handling.

4. Anticipate the road

By looking ahead and anticipating encounters while driving, you will be able to drive more smoothly, reduce unnecessarily hard braking or accelerating, and not only save fuel, but reduce maintenance costs in the long run. For example, use gravity as much as possible while going downhill and then use the momentum to carry you some of the way after.

5. Plan your journey

If possible, plan your route to avoid congested roads, roadworks and peak times. Not only will you avoid idling and stopping and starting, but a cold engine will use more fuel than a warm one, so getting all your errands done in one trip rather than several short ones is much more efficient.

6. Reduce the weight & drag

The lighter your vehicle, the less it has to work to speed up or slow down. Consider removing any heavy items you don’t need everyday; such as golf clubs or sports equipment you only use every other weekend, that toolkit you rarely use, baby seats you only keep in there for occasional visits with the kids etc. Don’t use your car as a storage space. Not only are items like roof racks or bike racks adding weight to your car, they’re adding to unnecessary wind resistance; meaning you car is working harder as it’s less aerodynamic.

7. Turn off the air con

Your air conditioning puts an extra strain on the engine and uses more fuel, especially at low speeds – so wind those windows down! However, once you reach speeds of around 80km/hr, using the air con is better than an open window for fuel consumption as it reduces aerodynamic drag.

8. Go up a gear

Driving in a gear lower than you need wastes fuel. Change to a higher gear in a manual car as soon as it’s possible and safe to do so, but without accelerating harder than is necessary. In an automatic transmission; the shift up will be quicker and smoother if you ease off the accelerator slightly once the car gathers momentum.

9. Don’t idle

Idling is a big fuel waster. Idling for about 2 minutes is the equivalent of about 1.5km you could have travelled. It takes about 10 seconds worth of fuel to restart the engine, so if you’re idling for an extended period of time, it can be worth turning off your engine. Even doing so for a short period of time will save more fuel than is lost from the burst of fuel involved in restarting the engine. Also keep in mind; most cars don’t need warming up by idling before taking off.

10. Keep your car regularly serviced

Take the time to keep your car well-maintained and have your car serviced regularly. Simple maintenance such as regular oil changes, air-filter changes, and spark plug replacements will lengthen the life of your vehicle as well as improve fuel efficiency and minimise emissions.

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