When the governor of the Reserve Bank appears on television you know it’s not good news and for the last 10 times Lesetja Kganyago has done that, consumers have been hit with another blow to their pocket and hard-earned money.
The rand reacts in ways that we don’t want, the exchange rate takes another dive and we brace ourselves for more price increases in everything including fuel.
Fuel is also the easiest (and nastiest) way for the Government to collect taxes because literally millions of litres are burnt up every month. From daily drives for ordinary citizens, buses, trucks, taxis, tractors and thanks to loadshedding generators all need the magic juice to keep going.
There are a couple of tips to keep consumption down which we’ll get to later but for now I’m just going to tell you a bit about our long-term Ford Ranger diesel double cab XL and why it’s a good bakkie when it comes to consumption, which now stands at 7.8l/1000km after three months of driving in various conditions.
Look, it’s a good bakkie to begin with but it also helps that it’s frugal.
Whichever way you look at it, cars are expensive whether it’s an entry level hatchback or an S-Class Mercedes, the outlay in relative terms is enormous.
Looking at vehicle sales locally, double cabs remain a firm favourite dominated by Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger.
Our Ranger XL provides an ideal entry point into that market and trust me, once you get used to the lifestyle it offers you’ll be hooked for life.
Priced at R556 800, it’s not exactly a give-away, but compare it to any other vehicles in that price range and you’re not going to get much more bang for your buck.
Part of the reason for its decent consumption is the 2.0-litre single turbo diesel engine that puts out 125kW and 405Nm, more than enough for the average owner.
As we know, diesel cars use less fuel than their petrol counterparts and despite the EU and some other markets making it out as an evil liquid, given the choice, South Africans will opt for an oil burner almost every time.
While the tendency is leaning more towards automatic transmissions in vehicle purchases, ours has a six speed manual which helps too because you determine when to change gears so that you get to the final cog as soon as possible.
If it was mine I’d add a tonneau cover for better airflow over the loadbay which also has an impact on consumption.
There are a number of other ways which will save you fuel and no doubt if we put that into practice we’ll drop consumption even more despite its bulky shape, 17-inch rims and 2 124kg kerb weight.
Here are five ways that MasterDrive advises to keep you away from the garage forecourt as long as possible.
Low quality engine oil
If you use oil with the incorrect viscosity the pistons and other moveable parts are placed under more pressure which uses more fuel. Check your manual or ask your dealership for the correct engine oil and do not neglect to change your oil at the correct mileage.
Bad tyres have less traction and use more fuel as they spin faster to maintain speed. Low tyre pressure and tyres that are not correctly aligned can also consume more fuel. This is besides the other risk factors associated with tyres not in the correct condition.
Avoid short trips
Trips less than five kilometres consume more fuel as the vehicles have not warmed up yet. Get all your chores done on the same day to get more kilometres from your tank. Conversely, vehicles with newer technology do not need to be warmed up for longer than what is necessary to warm the interior or defog the windshield. Extended idling can potentially use more fuel than what it can save.
Failure to replace spark plugs or fuel and air filters can increase fuel consumption. Worn fuel injectors also burn fuel faster. Do not neglect to replace faulty parts or neglect to service your vehicle on time.
Driving in the wrong gears results in driving with high RPMs, accelerating harshly from a standstill or driving in high gears up hills or around corners uses more fuel. Manual vehicle drivers with poor clutch control or worn clutches can also cause increased consumption.