Various Ways To Save Petrol
The recent global crisis and rise in crude oil prices is causing many South Africans great concern. In December 2019, 95 octane petrol was R16.30 per litre whereas in August 2022 it has shot up to R25.42, a whopping 55.95% increase.
We all know the impact this has, not only at the pump, but on everything we purchase too. We have all seen the inflationary effect this has had on the price of basic foods.
At GP Motor Works we feel the pinch in the same way you do! As a result, we decided to publish an article focusing on ways to save money when using your motor vehicle.
Tips To Conserve Fuel While Driving
Many people have simply developed driving habits which invariably waste fuel. Here, we list several tips which will have an immediate effect on reducing your fuel consumption. The added bonus is there will also be far less wear and tear on your car.
- Drive conservatively
- Assess traffic and conditions to avoid harsh braking and hard acceleration
- Avoid racing up behind a truck, being forced to brake hard and then having to accelerate aggressively to overtake
- Whenever you can, try to keep the car’s momentum going
- Try to coast brake rather than sudden braking
- Reduce weight by not carrying unnecessary items in your boot. Some folk ferry items to and fro for months at a time, which uses unnecessary fuel.
Drive Using The Right Gear
Many people who drive manual vehicles don’t use their gears in the most efficient way. The issue comes down to this – driving in the incorrect gear at the wrong speed wastes fuel and can harm the engine and gearbox.
- Upshift as quickly as possible without putting stress on the engine. The lower gears use the most fuel and conversely the highest gear is the most fuel-efficient.
- Engaging the wrong gears at the wrong time will cause the engine to lag and you will feel and hear the engine struggling.
- In newer model cars with electronic fuel injectors, coasting in gear reduces fuel consumption. So if you are coasting downhill, while in gear, the motor switches off the injection system and saves fuel. This also assists with braking and conserves brake pads and discs.
- Some drivers put their car in neutral while coasting downhill. This is potentially dangerous practice for a number of reasons. Firstly, should an emergency situation suddenly arise, most people panic and are unable to react swiftly. They tend to engage the wrong gear causing even more panic and are unable to take evasive action. This often results in a crash. Secondly, engaging a lower gear when coasting at a high speed will cause engine damage.
Ensure Your Tyres & Rims Are In Good Condition
We see a lot of vehicles where the tyres are in a bad condition and are either under- or over-inflated. These factors directly affect fuel economy. The following tips will provide better tyre life and ensure you have driving stability and control over your car:
- Always ensure your tyres are correctly inflated to the manufacturer’s rating. Don’t neglect to adjust the pressure when carrying additional load.
- Use the correct rim size for your make of car. It’s true that wider rims and tyres have more contact with the road surface which assists with handling and braking. However, they create increased drag and make the engine work a lot harder to get the vehicle moving which wastes fuel.
- Low profile tyres are better at road handling and braking but they have shorter side walls which are much more susceptible to damage. This is particularly important to consider given the general state of our roads.
- Choose the best tyre type and tread pattern to match your everyday driving. Using off-road mud tyres in your daily commute on the highway makes no sense. Not only is it much less efficient but you will experience excessive road noise inside the cabin. Make the switch to tyres with a lower rolling resistance.
- Over the last two years, many people started working from home. This has meant their cars have not been used resulting in the tyres developing flat spots. Ordinarily, the tyres resume normal shape within 15 minutes of driving. However, there is another cause of flat spots which is more concerning. Badly worn shock absorbers fail to keep the tyres in constant contact with the road surface. This causes flat spots and premature ageing. It also makes the tyre more vulnerable to a sudden flat which can be catastrophic. Driving and cornering at high speed and then braking hard creates flat spots.
Wheel Alignment, Balancing and Rotation
It is surprising how few clients actually understand the need to regularly carry out tyre and wheel maintenance. What this means is you should rotate your tyres every 10,000 kms and also get your wheel alignment and balancing checked. Improper maintenance leads to having to purchase new tyres sooner than you should have to.
There are a lot of other factors which come into play let’s illustrate this by assuming the following:
*4 new tyres cost R6000 for a small car whereas bigger cars with run flats can cost upwards of R6000 per tyre
*Checking wheel alignment R150
*Conducting wheel alignment R400 (as necessary)
*Checking wheel balancing R0
*Conducting wheel balancing & rotating tyres R250
*** average pricing provided by large tyre brand
Just by checking wheel alignment and rotating your tyres (total of R400) you can extend the life of your tyres significantly. This evens out the wear and also enables the tyres and rims to be checked for abnormalities such as obvious flat spots, sidewall bulges or cracks, and gouges or cuts. Incorrect alignment causes excessive wear and drag. Wheel alignment is even more vital if you have hit potholes.
Let’s face it, no-one crawls under their car with a torch to inspect the inner walls of their tyres.
One of the ways you can reduce fuel consumption is to carry less fuel in your tank. A litre of petrol weighs 740grams and diesel 850grams. Therefore a 60 litre tank weighs in at 44.4kgs and diesel at 51kgs. So by only half filling your tank you can avoid carrying excess weight.
Here are some other useful tips:
- Refuel on the way rather than going out of your way to get fuel.
- Use the recommended octane for your car. On the reef, those cars fitted with high performance turbo chargers should use 95 octane. Non-turbos are fine with 93 octane.
- Diesel engine cars should always use the highest quality diesel with the lowest sulphur content (ppm).
We have seen many vehicles come into the workshop where the engine hasn’t been properly maintained for a long time. One car, in particular, stands out, the oil hadn’t been changed at all and it had turned to thick sludge. The engine eventually seized and needed to be completely replaced.
Here are several tips on how to maintain your engine to save fuel:
- Old, dirty oil becomes contaminated and thicker than it should be. This causes higher resistance inside the engine and causes excessive wear on internal components. The oil can’t circulate and get to the moving parts such as pistons, bearings and rings. It precipitates lower compression and higher oil usage.
- Check your spark plugs – when they are worn out the fuel doesn’t ignite properly and more fuel is used to provide the same energy.
- Dirty air filters prevent the correct amount of air entering the engine. This uses more fuel because the air ratio is wrong.
There are a number of important components which need to be in top working order to ensure your car isn’t using more fuel than required.
- Check the fuel pump is pumping at the correct pressure. If the pressure is too low, the fuel will not atomise effectively. There are a number of reasons for this – the fuel pump may be faulty or the fuel filter might be blocked or the fuel injectors may be worn.
- Carbon deposits build up in the intake and combustion chambers which pre-ignites the fuel. The engine becomes in-efficient.
In the drive to limit carbon emissions, modern exhaust systems have become increasingly complex. However, this complexity has brought with it the need for owners to understand the maintenance required and to ensure it gets done. Skipping out on regularly maintaining these systems almost certainly leads to catastrophic failure which is very costly.
- Catalytic Converters and Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF) get blocked up and cause excessively high fuel consumption. This is due to the engine not being able to expel exhaust gases. This leads to further damage to these filters which then leads to turbo failure.
- It is also important to periodically check and replace oxygen sensors. These sensors measure the amount of unburnt fuel in the system as well as whether the catalytic converter is functioning properly. Faulty sensors provide inaccurate readings and cause high fuel usage.
Computer Diagnostics Pinpoint Problems
Onboard computer systems are spread throughout the vehicle, controlling, measuring, and managing every function in the vehicle. It is impossible to manually test every system without the use of sophisticated diagnostic tools. It is worth every cent to regularly schedule full computer diagnostic tests to assess all the sensors and systems are running efficiently.
For example, a boost pressure sensor may not be working and a there is a leak in the air intake which then has a direct impact on the engine management system’s ability to apply the correct fuel mixture. Inevitably this leads to less power and higher consumption.
This is by no means a fully comprehensive list of everything drivers can do to lessen their fuel bill. However, it provides you with enough information to be able to take some active measures to stop burning too much fuel (money).
Please don’t hesitate to contact us for any further information or help in reducing your monthly fuel expenditure.