During the recent Budget speech, motorists were hit by a triple whammy: the fuel price levy, the Road Accident Fund levy and a Carbon Tax. This week, fuel prices are set to increase - 74 cents more per litre of petrol and between 91 and 93 cents more per litre of diesel.
According to Susan Steward from Budget Insurance, “On the whole, daily living will become more expensive this year, and consumers are really going to feel the pinch when filling up their cars. In addition to the fuel increases, the Road Accident Fund levy of 5 cents per litre of fuel is set to come into effect in April and a carbon fuel levy of 9 cents a litre on petrol and 10 cents a litre on diesel will come into play in June.
That means, by the middle of the year, motorists will be paying around R14,94 per litre of petrol and R14,22 per litre of diesel. A car with a 50-litre fuel tank will cost around R747 (petrol) and R711 (diesel).”
To absorb these increases and minimise the effect on your budget, Steward recommends a couple of small behavioural changes that could lead to significant savings:
“People often underestimate the impact that their driving habits have on fuel consumption, but minor tweaks can help protect your pocket at the pump. According to the Department of Energy in the US, smart driving could increase your fuel economy by as much as 40%, so, if you fill up 48 times a year at R800 per tank, you could save more than R15 000 a year.
Just by changing the way you drive and keeping your car in tip top shape, you could have an extra R1 250 at your disposal each month.”
To help you reduce your fuel consumption, Budget Insurance recommends some practical tips:
Align and inflate – Incorrect wheel alignment and underinflated tyres leads to increased resistance between the tyres and the road, which in turn leads to higher fuel consumption, as well as increased wear and tear on tyres.
Check your tyre pressure at least once a month. Alignment should be checked at least once a year, but a check every six months, or after incidents like hitting a pothole or curb, is advisable.
Smooth and steady – Every harsh brake and acceleration guzzles fuel. Keep a safe following distance and avoid speeding off from a green traffic light. Your fuel tank, and pocket, will thank you.
Squash the need for speed – High speeds result in high fuel consumption. It’s as simple as that. At 110km/h your car uses up to 25% more fuel than it would cruising at a more moderate 90km/h
Hike it up a gear – as a rule of thumb: the higher the gear, the lower the petrol consumption, so always drive in the highest gear possible, without straining the engine by letting the revs drop too low.
Don’t be a drag – there are many things that cause or increase drag, including: driving with the windows open and attaching carriers or bikes to the roof. To decrease drag, keep the windows closed, especially at high speeds, and attach additional weight to the rear of the car instead of the roof.
Air-con control – did you know that your car uses more fuel powering your air-con when you’re travelling at low speed and less at a higher speed? This is because the higher the revs, the more power the engine produces, allowing it to run the air-con more efficiently. If you’re driving a short distance and travelling at a lower speed (under 80km/h), open the window instead of switching on the air-con.
Have that health check – many components in your car impact fuel consumption and if they’re not working properly, you could be paying a hefty price. Everything from dirty oil and dirty air filters to dirty injectors, a faulty exhaust, worn spark plugs and low coolant levels can contribute to bad fuel efficiency so make sure they all get a regular check-up.
Practice patience – if you can avoid major congestion, do. It will end up saving you time, frustration and of course, fuel. If you can’t wait, use the technology at your fingertips by checking alternative, less congested routes, on a reliable traffic app.
Team up – joining a lift club is not only a great way to save fuel and reduce wear and tear on your car, it can also be a great stress reliever, giving you the freedom to relax while someone else is driving.
Switch on and go – there’s nothing like a warm car on a cool morning but that time spent idling while your car warms up is costing you money. Don’t let your car idle for much longer than a minute.