Fuel-saving tips: soften the 93c blow

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IOL mot aug31 guy driving

Motorists are going to be feeling a huge pinch from Wednesday, 5 September, when the price of petrol goes up by 93 cents a litre and the price of diesel by 69 cents a litre.

Naturally it's becoming more important than ever to squeeze as much efficiency as you possibly can from your car.

Fittingly, the AA's head of public affairs, Gary Ronald, recently shared some useful tips for maximising your mileage.

"Driving smart can save you thousands of rand a year, not only on petrol but also on the wear and tear on your vehicle," he said.

Here are Ronald's tips - and a few of our own - to help you squeeze more kilometres from your tank by adjusting your driving habits:

Drive smoothly: Don't accelerate hard away from stops, and try to keep the accelerator pedal in a constant position while on the move. Lift your foot early for stops rather than braking as late as possible. While good brakes are essential on a modern vehicles, in the final analysis, all they are is an efficient means of converting hydrocarbons into waste heat.

'Pace yourself' in traffic: Pulling away from a standstill uses way more fuel than gently rolling along, so learn the timing of the lights on your daily commute and get into the rhythm of where you need to slow down to 40km/h and where you need to hit the speed limit in order to reach the next light while it's green - always keeping a safe following distance. It takes keen observation and intense concentration (the first few times, anyway) but not only will you save measurably on your fuel bill - you'll get home earlier!

Know your engine: Your car is at its most efficient when its being driven at the right revolutions per minute (RPM) and the engine is producing the most torque. So check your owner's manual (it's under engine specifications) and know your peak-torque revs. Then short-shift in traffic to keep your revs within 1000rpm either way of the 'sweet spot' and your engine will run noticeably more smoothly as it gets the most out of every drop of fuel.

Maintain your car: Regular servicing, brake testing and wheel-alignment will save you more than you spend.

Pump your tyres: Make sure your tyres are properly inflated according to the recommended tyre pressures. Even slightly deflated tyres mean more petrol usage, as do wider tyres than the manufacturer recommends.

Travel light: All that extra stuff in the boot and on the parcel shelf costs you money every time you pull away. Clean out your car and save money - and you'll probably turn up something you thought was lost!

Switch off the aircon: Be glad it's winter so you don't have to use the aircon. However, keep an eye on aircon usage as summer approaches.

Ronald said: “The trick to driving smart is driving safe! If you can maintain a relatively constant pace and pay attention to your acceleration, you'll use less petrol.”

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