With Petrol increasing by between 25 and 29 cents per litre, and diesel by 42 cents, already cash-strapped consumers will have to make the most of every tank of fuel.

According to the US Department of Energy, smart driving could increase your fuel economy by as much as 40%, meaning that on a tank that normally gets you 650 km, you could get more than 900 km. This translates to almost a tankful of savings for every two times you fill up!

“Poorly maintained vehicles and bad driving habits are the main culprits when it comes to high fuel consumption,” says Graham Craggs, Spokesperson for  Budget Insurance. “If you want to save, and keep your vehicle running for longer, investing in good maintenance and changing your driving habits to economy mode are essential.”

Budget Insurance provides the following tips for better fuel economy:

  • Make sure that your vehicle is serviced regularly. Things like worn spark plugs, sticky brakes, low coolant levels, dirty oil, and dirty fuel- and air filters all add up to engine inefficiency, which leads to increased fuel consumption.
  • Check your vehicle’s wheel alignment. Bad wheel alignment causes more friction, which takes more power to overcome and results in higher fuel consumption.
  • Check for underinflated tyres, as these, too, increase resistance.
  • Close the vehicle’s windows when driving, as open windows cause drag.
  • Reduce the vehicle’s weight by removing unnecessary items from it and, if you mostly do urban driving, consider driving with only half a tank of fuel.
  • Reduce drag by removing roof racks and other accessories when they aren’t in use.
  • Don’t “floor it”. Rather accelerate gradually.
  • Don’t speed.
  • Avoid stop-starting. Maintain momentum as far as possible by looking and planning ahead, flowing with traffic and timing your approaches to hills, traffic lights and crossings better.
  • Drive at the lowest speed in the highest gear that the road and traffic conditions allow, without labouring the engine.
  • Use the air conditioning only when necessary.
  • Plan your trips more carefully and do several tasks on one round trip, as opposed to many shorter ones. This not only limits mileage and the amount of time it takes to get your chores done, but also keeps your car’s engine running at optimal temperature.
  • Wait out the traffic. If traffic is heavily congested, spend a bit more time at the office to tick more items off your to do list, or stop at a spot where you can have coffee or a bite to eat. Battling through traffic not only increases fuel consumption, but also wear and tear on your car’s transmission and brakes.
  • Keep your finger on the pulse by reading or listening to up to date traffic reports and monitoring your GPS for faster routes.

“Saving on fuel by keeping your car in tip top shape and changing the way you drive may seem like a bit of a hassle, but if you fill up 48 times a year at R700 per tank, a 40% reduction in fuel consumption could save you more than R13 000 a year”, concludes Craggs.