For those who live in Sydney, and especially for those who drive, increasing traffic and constant driving has now become an entrenched part of living life in Sydney. While driving is not too bad, on thing that hurts driver the most is the petrol. At the time of writing, the cheapest I have seen in Sydney (primarily in my area where I live in) is $1.40/Litre for 95 octane. However, as most people who live in Sydney realise, petrol prices fluctuate, so far the most expensive I have seen is $1.84/Litre for 98 octane.
Regardless of the price or location, on thing is for sure, petrol prices are not going down. Fortunately there are some things that you can do to save some money on petrol. One thing that I would like to emphasis is that this post will not be discussing any major modifications to the car’s engine (such as adding a turbo-charger), or trying to spruik any substances or devices that claim to improve fuel efficiency. This article will mainly look at things that an average person with some reasonable skill can do at home.
Also, on an important note, if you see any products that claim to increase your fuel dramatically (such as by 20%), be wary. Chances are it is probabily a scam. Some notable examples include:
- The “Firepower Pill”, as explained here and here.
- Dodgy devices with pseudo-scientific name that sound impressive and equally convoluted and complex explanations of how they work, see popular mechanics for some examples.
As a rule of thumb, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
There is another discipline of driving known as “hypermiling”, where there are certain driving techniques you can use to reduce fuel consumption. However some of them can be dangerous and in my opinion unnecessarily hold up traffic (such as coasting along with the ignition switched off, traveling in the wake of a larger vehicle such as a truck to reduce air resistance and coasting along slowly to a red light). However, there are some good tips which I will share later.
Below are some things that an average person with some skill can do to save money on petrol:
By keeping up with basic car maintenance, this will help to ensure that the engine is running optimally, which will in turn help you to save petrol.
- Keeping your tyres properly inflated. Ensure your tyres are properly inflated according to the vehicles specifications, by keeping your tyres correctly inflated. It will reduce tyre wear, improve handling and safety.
- Rotate your tyres, not only does this help with handling, but also saves money by making your tyres last longer.
- Use the correct tyres for your car and driving conditions.
- Using the lowest viscosity oil recommended, this will reduce internal engine drag, which will reduce the power drawn from the engine, which will in turn help to save fuel.
- Use high performance spark plugs. High performance spark plugs like iridium-tipped “performance” spark plugs create a larger combustion spark which contributes to fuller, more efficient burn in the combustion chamber. This provides slightly more power, better fuel efficiency and lower emissions.
- Ensure your car is properly tuned and serviced, cars that are not properly tuned use more fuel and produce more pollution.
Get rid of any unnecessary weight from your car, such as spare gold clubs phone books (even in 2018 I have seen people with phone books in their boot for some reason). Also, if you can afford it, getting alloy wheels rather than steel will help to reduce weight.
When possible, keep your windows up to reduced drag. One some cars, the rear spoiler is added only for aesthetic purposes and does nothing to improve handling or reduced drag. Also by removing the unnecessary rear spoiler, you can save weight.
Heating and Air conditioning
When possible, avoid using the heating or air conditioning. In the event that you do need to use it, ensure your car is travelling at least 60km/h and the windows are wound up.
Clean (and if necessary replace) the air filter regularly.
By not speeding and travelling at the appropriate speed limit, you can save fuel, as well as eliminate the possibility of getting a fine for speeding.
If possible, plan to drive avoiding peak hour, school zones, road works and traffic accidents.
When driving, try to maintain a constant speed, and drive using the highest gear possible. For an automatic car it is not so much of an issue, as they change gears automatically. While driving, try to plan ahead so you can drive in such a way to avoid using your brakes and allowing the car to coast along. However, in an emergency if you have to brake, then use the brakes. When accelerating, try to do so gently if possible, and lift up from the accelerator as soon as you see or know when there is a red light.
Often cars have an optimal cruising speed, and for most cars it around 80-90km/h (not this will depend on your car model). So if the conditions and speed limit allow it, try to drive at that range.
While driving, try to use hills and downwards slopes to your advantage to allow the car to coast down, providing it can be done safely and legally within the speed limit.
Also, on a side not, for people who drive below the speed limit, one of the dumbest reasons I have heard from driving slower is that it saves fuel. In fact, you are wasting fuel, holding up traffic necessarily and a potential road hazard.
Today’s modern cars don’t require idling and warming up, so in short, try to avoid idling. This will create needless engine wear, consume more fuel and create excess pollution.
So in conclusion, these are some basic things you can do to save money on petrol. While the savings may be small, they will add up over time.