10 fuel saving tips for commuters in South Africa

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Saving fuel is about to become a national pass-time as the fuel price reaches a record high.

At midnight tonight (2nd October) fuel prices will climb to R16.85 for 93 octane unleaded petrol (ULP), R17.08 for 95 octane and R15.64 for diesel (R15.16 at the coast).

The main reasons for the substantial increase in fuel prices according to the Department of Energy are:

  • The Rand depreciating against the US Dollar during the review period. The currency fell from R13.90 to R14.90 during that time leading to a 50 – 52c increase on fuel prices.
  • Crude oil has increased in price from $74.25 per barrel to $78.25 per barrel.
  • Import prices of fuel have increased.

Opposition such as the Democratic Alliance have called on the president to cut the General Fuel Levy and Road Accident Fund Levy which costs motorists a total of R5.30 every time they fill up.

The fact of the matter though is that once the clock ticks over to midnight and the calendar shows 3rd October 2018, South Africans will be paying more for fuel. So here are some fuel saving tips that can help you squeeze a few extra kilometres from your fuel tank.

Tyre pressure affects fuel consumption

The simplest thing you can do to improve your fuel consumption is check your tyre pressure regularly. A deflated tyre, even a a slightly deflated tyre will increase the rolling distance of the tyre with the road creating additional drag. This drag forces the engine to work harder thereby consuming more fuel. Check your tyres regularly and make sure they are inflated per manufacturer instructions.

Ditch the extra weight

Keeping your golf clubs in the boot for a possible sneaky game on Friday? Don’t. More weight means more drag on the vehicle resulting in higher fuel usage. Keep your boot and backseats clear of extra rubbish that will just weigh you down.

At speed, air becomes a brick wall (sorta)

It sounds strange but as you drive faster the harder it becomes to punch through the air. We’re not saying you should drive at 45kmph on the highway but you should be aware of how your car’s aerodynamics play a role in fuel consumption. When driving at high speed for example, don’t have your window down because this ruins aerodynamics and forces you to push the go-pedal a bit more aggressively.

Avoid rush hour

We know, this is easier said than done but with fuel increasing drastically in price now is the time to get creative. Check Google Maps for traffic patterns and try to determine what time rush hour tends to die down in your area. Alternatively, speak to your boss and see if you can shift your work hours slightly so that you can skip the traffic.

A strained battery means a draining battery

Battery drain means worse fuel economy so try to avoid putting increased strain on the battery. The radio, air conditioning and charging your myriad gadgets while on the commute home sounds like a good idea but they could be draining your battery and forcing your alternator to charge it up. Do a few tests yourself to see whether not using your battery for extraneous activities helps fuel economy.

Gear up!

The lower the gear, the higher your rev range which means the engine is drinking more fuel. Where possible select a higher gear to lower your engine speed and use fuel more efficiently.

Idle engines are the devil’s playground

Idling is basically you using fuel to sit around doing nothing. As a rule of thumb if you are stopping for 30 seconds or more turn the engine off. Yes starting your car uses fuel but so does sitting in the drive-through queue as the person in front tries to decide what combination of bread, meat and condiments their family and extended family wants from the take-away.

Planning is everything

Try your best to combine trips where possible. Instead of going to drop the kids off at school, go home, pick up the dog, take it to the vet and then go home again try to drop the kids and the dog off in one trip.

Regularly service your vehicle

As engines are used they get dirty and require maintenance. Make sure that your vehicle is regularly serviced by a trusted mechanic and keep an eye on your fuel consumption both before and after the service.

Use a ride hailing service

Now we’re not suggesting folks start using a ride-hailing service to commute to work but let’s say you have a meeting a short distance away from the office. Rather than using your fuel calculate what it would cost you to travel that distance (you can use the AA calculator for that located here) and compare that with the cost of a ride-hailing service.

These tips should help you squeeze a few more kilometres from your fuel tank before needing to fill up again.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.