Six simple ways to reduce fuel costs


With the summer holidays finally here, it’s time to prepare for the road trip. Unfortunately, while most of the country has been kicking back, fuel prices have stubbornly refused to take a break.

On that, we’ve taken a look at six easy things you can do to reduce your fuel consumption and ease the pain at the pump.

Remove any unnecessary stuff

Did you know that just 20 kilograms can add an extra 1 per cent to your fuel consumption? So if you are someone who treats your car like an extension of your home storage, you could well be costing yourself money.

While removing unnecessary weight from your car will pay dividends, remember to check up on the roof too – a roof rack or bike rack might not weigh much, but can increase your fuel usage by anywhere between 3 and 10 per cent, due to the extra drag. And that’s with nothing on them! Spending a few minutes removing unused roof racks will save you fuel.

Avoid short trips and idling

Short trips come at a high fuel cost, so just walking down to the nearby dairy to get milk or combining errands into one bigger trip will see significant savings in your weekly fuel spend.

Also, the general rule of thumb is that anything more than about 10 seconds idling will cost you more than turning the car off and back on again will, and that includes the extra cost of wear and tear.

Modern stop/start systems address this effectively enough at traffic lights, but even though it would save fuel, we still don’t recommend doing this manually at traffic lights for the obvious safety reasons. However, when safely parked, shutting the engine off when you know you will be stationary for more than 10 seconds will save you quite a lot fuel over the course of a week.

Keep your tyres pumped up

If you have ever tried to ride a bike with under inflated tyres, you will know how much more effort that adds – it is the same for your car, and even just slightly under inflated tyres can add up to 2 per cent to your fuel consumption, as well as wearing them out sooner. Which costs you even more money.

Making sure your tyres are running at their correct pressures is not only a fuel-saver, it can also be a life-saver too, so checking them regularly is always a good idea. Wheel alignment can also make a decent difference to your fuel consumption, so make sure that is correct as well.

Give your engine the love it deserves

It goes without saying that a well-maintained engine is considerably more efficient than a poorly maintained one, but did you know by how much? Shockingly, an unloved engine can use up to 20 per cent more fuel than one that is regularly serviced and properly maintained.

Using the correct oil recommended by your car’s manufacturer – and changing it regularly – can also improve fuel consumption.

Be a gentler soul

Testing by the AA found that a poor or aggressive driving style can use 20 per cent more fuel than a smoother, more relaxed driving style. This doesn’t have to mean creeping slowly around well below the posted speed limit, but rather a smoother, gentler approach to throttle applications.

Easing on and off the gas – rather than slamming your foot to the floor – will yield a noticeable reduction in fuel usage, as will looking ahead and judging when to brake, as opposed to slamming on the brakes late and then having to accelerate again.

Then there is air conditioning…

It is a fact that using the air conditioning will add up to 8 per cent to your fuel usage, so turning that off will save you money straight away. But there are both comfort and safety reasons for using it – it is, after all, the best way to keep your windscreen clear and no-one wants to sit sweating in their car, so this one might be a bit more of a last resort…

Winding the windows down creates more drag, and depending on the shape of your car could even use more fuel, and turning the a/c off and on throughout the course of a trip won’t help either, and may even increase your fuel usage, so it really is an “all on” or “all off” choice.

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