Few issues get Aussie motorists as hot under the collar as fuel pricing – despite the fact that Australia enjoys one of the lowest levels of fuel price (and tax) in the developed world. There’s a lot of ‘advice’ floating around about how to save petrol and improve fuel economy – but sadly much of it is practically ineffective or just outright hokum.
For example, it is technically true that removing unnecessary items from the boot will increase fuel consumption. But that golf bag – or whatever – in the boot is such a small proportion of your car’s all-up weight that removing it will not make a tangible difference to your household budget.
It is also true that pumping up your tyres is a great idea, and that under-inflated tyres add rolling resistance and therefore increase fuel consumption. But the real benefit to pumping up your tyres will not be felt at the bowser. In fact, the main benefit of inflating your tyres correctly (using the placard inside the driver’s door frame for reference) is that the tyres themselves will last longer. Under-inflated tyres wear out very fast, even if the under-inflation is mild, and severe under-inflation is the most common cause of blowouts that happen on the highway. This is one of the main reasons why worn tyres could void your car insurance.
The car industry would like you to think that buying a new car is a great way to improve your fuel economy. It is: A 2.0-litre Mazda3 from 2005 consumed 8.9 litres per 100 kilometres, according to the official test results. Its equivalent today consumes just 5.7 – a reduction of 36 per cent.
In the course of one year’s worth of average Australian driving this would save you $720 per annum. Unfortunately, spending $25,000 to start saving $720 per annum isn’t economically defensible … unless there are other factors that make buying a new car a good idea.
How to save money on petrol
The truth is that you can save 25-30 per cent on the cost of fuel. Doing it is free, you can start this afternoon, and it won’t cost you a cent. You only need to do two things:
1. Drive steady
Remember that there’s a tap that tips fuel out of the fuel tank and into your engine, thereby emptying your wallet/purse. It’s controlled by the accelerator. This equates to two main tips for how to save fuel and improve fuel economy:
- First, the more gently you take off when the lights go green, and the earlier you lift off the accelerator as the traffic ahead begins to slow, the more money you will save.
- Secondly, on the highway, try to maintain a steady cruising speed because speeding up and slowing down adds substantially to the cost.
The power here really is in your hands. Correction: foot.
2. Be time efficient
Try to get as much as possible done every time you go out. Going from home to school to the shops and back home is better than heading home in between school and the shops, because it saves one trip home and one trip out. It’s a more efficient use of the vehicle – doing more with fewer kays. You can save 100% of the fuel you would have used for every kilometre you manage not to drive. Not even a miracle fuel saver can promise – much less deliver – fuel savings as high as that.
About the Author:
John Cadogan is an Australian automotive journalist and owner of AutoExpert.com.au. He frequently presents news for some of Australia’s top companies such as Channel 7’s Today Tonight and 2UE radio. John can be contacted via Twitter.