How to improve your motor vehicle fuel efficiency

South African consumers are currently dealing with the latest fuel price increase. For motor vehicle owners, every fuel price increase means more is paid towards fuel costs and less is available for vehicle maintenance and other needs. Research shows that there are certain measures you can take to improve your vehicle’s fuel consumption. Here are some of these measures.

1. Check your tyre pressure at least once a month. Under-inflated tyres burn more fuel. If tyres are under inflated, (not an uncommon condition), rolling resistance of the tyres increases by five per cent.

2. When appropriate, use your cruise control. This can save you up to six per cent in fuel consumption on the highway.

3. Corroded battery cables cause the alternator to work harder, using more gas. Have them cleaned as a cost-saving measure with each engine service.

4. Don’t let the vehicle idle for more than a minute. Idling takes out more fuel from the tank and pumps needless CO2 into the atmosphere. Modern engines will consume less fuel turning off and re-starting than idling for extended periods.

5. Change the air filter at least the set number of times outlined in the manual, even more if you drive in dusty conditions. Dirty air filters cause the car’s engine to work much harder than it has to and always results in poor fuel economy. A clean air filter allows your engine to perform more efficiently and also helps you save money at the pump.

6. Lighten your load. Think carefully about what you need on a journey. If you do not need something, do not pack it. Remove roof racks if not needed, as they create wind drag. The lighter the load, the lower the fuel consumption and emissions.

7. Avoid “revving” the engine, especially just before you switch the engine off; this wastes fuel needlessly and washes oil down from inside the cylinder walls. This is really bad thing for the next start up, as the cylinder walls will be dry.

8. Do not rest your left foot on the brake pedal while driving. The slightest pressure puts “mechanical drag” on components, wearing them down prematurely. This “dragging” also demands additional fuel usage to overcome the drag.

9. Keep the windows closed. Keeping your windows down while driving creates wind resistance for your vehicle. If you are driving at slower speeds, it is usually okay to keep the windows down. However, at higher speeds, you should keep the windows up in order to reduce the drag and improve fuel consumption.

10. Try as much as possible to use air conditioning in moderation. If you need to choose between keeping your windows rolled down or using the AC, use the air conditioning on a low setting.

The fuel measures listed above will see you save quite some money on fuel.

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