How to ease the pain at the petrol pumps

Brian Joss – Motorists are going to feel the pinch of the October fuel prices. Both grades of petrol will increase by 99c per litre while diesel will see an increase of R1.24.

The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, provides motorists with his top three picks for saving fuel to help alleviate the pressure.

Anticipate conditions

Adopt a defensive driving style so you can anticipate changing traffic conditions before they happen. “You should be driving 12 seconds ahead of time. Your peripheral vision will allow you to see what is directly in front of you while you focus a little ahead as well.

 “For the managers of fleets, the importance of training your fleets in this style of driving is more important than ever before, not only for the safety benefits but for the savings you will see in your petrol expenses. As your drivers cover many more kilometres than the regular driver, the value of defensive driving cannot be overlooked,” says Herbert.

Do not speed

Drive at speeds which suit the current conditions and avoid speeding.

Reducing speed by 20kph in certain instances can reduce fuel consumption by 20%. Often speed is also accompanied by fast lane changes, sudden acceleration and harsh braking. Not only does this increase fuel consumption but it also costs you more in maintenance. Increasing your speed will only make minimal difference to trip times.

Plan ahead

Planning ahead of each journey is one of the best ways to save fuel. It can help you avoid traffic jams, choose the most fuel efficient routes and avoid leaving too little time. “Plan your journey so you do not rush. Keep your engine revs between 2500 and 3000rpm. Techniques like this can also result in a saving of up to 20% in fuel consumption,” says Herbert.

No relief is in sight for motorists and the current fuel prices paint a very intimidating picture for fleets. Continued volatility in world events provides no reassurance either. Efforts to save fuel will become your armour against the rising prices.

Meanwhile the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) has said that commuters and motorists have felt an immediate impact following the record price increase in fuel.

NAAMS has highlighted a number of options open to the motorist to reduce vehicle fuel consumption and limit the negative financial effects of the price hikes and, at the same time, to reduce green-house emissions.

The fuel economy of the modern motor car has improved significantly over the past 20 years. Improvements in engine technology has seen the average fuel consumption of passenger cars decrease from over 10 litres/100 km in 1980 to less than 6 litres/ 100 km in the case of many of the latest high technology, highly fuel efficient models.  In addition to zero emissions and zero fuel consumption electric vehicles as well as fuel efficient hybrid vehicles – many new models currently available in South Africa offer substantial fuel consumption benefits.

The latest generation diesel vehicles, while offering all the refinements and performance of their  petrol engined counterparts, also offer significant fuel economy benefits.

Factors such as driving style, vehicle loading, tyre pressures, road conditions continue to affect real fuel consumption.

Here are some fuel-saving pointers from NAAMSA:  measure the fuel consumption of your vehicle and consider replacing your vehicle with a more

modern, high technology, fuel efficient product.       

Avoid unnecessary journeys/ Plan your journey; service your car according to the manufacturers recommended schedule; poor maintenance can significantly increase fuel consumption; check tyre pressure regularly low tyre pressures increase vehicle “drag” and hence fuel consumption; drive smoothly; In the case of manual transmission vehicles change up as soon as engine speed and conditions allow;  moderate your speed Fuel consumption increases significantly when driving at speeds over 100 km/h so reduce weight in the car by removing heavy items if you are not using them, a roof rack, for example.

Use only quality, clean fuels. The use of contaminated fuels can result in fuel injection equipment deterioration and increased fuel consumption and aoid travelling during peak hours and use air conditioning sparingly.

Optimum fuel economy is achieved during steady constant speed driving.

Stop-start driving significantly increases fuel consumption.

CAPTION: Painful: petrol pumps still in the bowsers. Picture: Victor Hanacek / Motorpress

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