Daily Life

10 ways to save on fuel costs

Do better at the bowser with these tips from WhichCar.com.au’s Elise Elliott

By Elise Elliott
Hanging out at the servo while filling my car is one of my least favourite jobs.
I usually crawl through the driveway with the engine running on fumes and an expensive top-up ahead. But there are ways to reduce refuelling costs.
And less money spent on life's boring necessities – like fuel – means more moolah for luxuries like designer shoes, right?
First, what does fuel efficiency mean?
It's basically the distance you can travel on a given quantity of fuel, and is expressed as litres per 100km.
Obviously, the lower the number, the more economical the vehicle. For example, a figure around 7-8L/100km would be considered impressive.
Keep in mind real driving figures are sometimes higher than those quoted by car makers.
Spend less on fuel to make sure you spend your hard earned money on something that matters more. (Source:Getty)
This is because manufacturers' figures are reached by simulated driving in a laboratory — not out on the road.
In tests, the vehicle is put through an "urban" and "extra-urban" (that's highway) cycle with the average of the two results expressed as a "combined" fuel efficiency.
Here are some ways to make your car go further in the real world between fill-ups.
1. Avoid peak-hour traffic as much as possible. All the stop-start driving involved slurps through fuel like you wouldn't believe.
It is best to avoid peak-hour if you want to save on fuel. (Source:Getty)
2. Rethink your driving technique. Go easy on the accelerator to reduce aggressive speed changes and avoid screeching to a halt with sudden braking. Driving smoothly and maintaining steady speed will result in a more economical trip.
3. If your vehicle has different drive settings, keep it in the most relaxed economy mode – for example, "comfort" rather than "sport plus".
4. Where possible, avoid using the air-conditioning and other accessories. Unless it's sweltering, aircon is a fuel-sapping luxury.
Aircon drains the precious fuel. When it is possible avoid using aircon. (Source:Getty)
5. If your car has auto stop-start, use it. Many modern vehicles don't need to idle at the lights.
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6. Have your wheel alignment checked. If the wheels are set incorrectly, they can reduce your fuel efficiency by up to 10 per cent.
When wheels are not correctly in place they can reduce fuel efficiency by up to 10 per cent. (Source:Getty)
7. Don't carry excess weight.
Does your car resemble a home on wheels? Are you lugging around hubby's golf clubs, your kids' sporting equipment and a set of snow chains you bought for last year's ski trip? All that unnecessary weight guzzles the fuel.
8. Remove the roof racks. I know they look sporty, but unless you regularly haul around a surfboard or skis, unused empty racks increase wind resistance.
Make sure to have your car regularly serviced. (Source:Getty)
9. Have your car regularly serviced. The attention of a good mechanic will ensure your vehicle runs at optimal efficiency. You wouldn't miss that waxing/laser/nail/spray tan appointment, would you? Give your car some TLC and it will love you back.
10. Check your tyre pressure. Driving around on under-inflated tyres increases their rolling resistance. Ever tried to pedal a pushbike with a flat? It's hard work! Don't know the ideal figure? It's usually printed on either the fuel filler flap or in the vehicle handbook.

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