The Irrigator

Maximising fuel efficiency: Car maintenance tips that save you money

With petrol prices at an all time high, there's no better time to maximise your car's fuel efficiency to help reduce costs. Picture Shutterstock
With petrol prices at an all time high, there's no better time to maximise your car's fuel efficiency to help reduce costs. Picture Shutterstock

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There are two certainties that come with owning a car.

The first is that it allows you ultimate mobility. You can travel around freely, on your own time (rather than having to schedule around pickups) and to places that you'd not normally be able to access by public transport, such as beautiful remote camping spots. This can create a greater sense of freedom.

The second certainty is unfortunately that it's always a costly ordeal, or investment if you will.

Many people take on personal loans when purchasing their car. Thereafter car maintenance costs, including routine servicing and registration are constant investments. Then there are hefty parking fees and potential toll roads if you frequent a metropolitan area. Fundamentally, the cost of running your car is always an essential factor when it comes to budgeting.

With petrol prices at an all time high, thanks to increasing global conflict and ever-growing inflation, there's no better time to maximise your car's fuel efficiency to help reduce your personal expenditure.

When it's a matter of safety to yourself and to other drivers, having your car evaluated is a paramount priority. Doing so can help reduce the risk of road incidents and make your mechanic visits less frequent. Whether you need to evaluate your existing car's performance, or you're purchasing a new vehicle, it's worth investing in a local car inspection in Bundaberg to assess its overall operation.

There are plenty of ways to optimise your car's fuel-efficiency. Try this handy equation to compare your car's fuel consumption with that listed to your specific car's model and make. This can help you evaluate whether your car is using more petrol than it should.

There are also numerous factors to consider when purchasing the right car for you that will help to reduce spending on petrol. In reducing costs for fuel you're simultaneously lowering your carbon emissions footprint, which is a win-win for your wallet and for the environment.

Fuel-Efficient Options When Purchasing

Fuel efficiency should be a determining factor when purchasing your car. There are plenty of fuel-efficient options to consider when it comes to choosing which car is right for you.

EV or Hybrid Alternatives

Of course the top-tier option is to invest in an Electric Vehicle (EV) to completely cut out spending on fuel and also achieve a significant reduction in your personal carbon footprint. EV prices are still significantly more costly than their traditional counterparts, making it an unaffordable option at this stage for many drivers. If you're able to meet halfway, consider investing in a hybrid car.

Fuel Saving Functions and Determinants

Newer cars often present nifty hacks when it comes to saving fuel. It might come as no surprise that leaving a car running in idle will waste fuel. Yet I've lost count as to the amount of times I've been in a friend or family member's car while we wait for someone and they leave the car running. Turn off your engine as long as it's safe to do so.

Many newer cars have auto stop-start technology that cuts the car engine when the car is stationary for longer periods, such as at a red light. Auto stop-start functions can help save fuel by up to 10 per cent in heavy traffic conditions.

Consider manual over automatic cars. Manual transmissions have been found to save drivers between 5% and 15% on their fuel costs. Manual also allows for greater control of your vehicle. For example, consider driving in a hilly area: going up a hill might mean significantly more acceleration, however when going down a hill in a manual car you can simply pull the gear out and let your car roll from the velocity at which it's already travelling.

Fuel-Efficient Practises for Driving

There are many ways, you may or may not be aware of, that you can cut down fuel expenditure in your existing vehicle, often while driving.

The Way You Drive

Much like your body and how you use it, the way you drive can possess a significant impact on the amount of petrol it uses. If you engage your body in weight training and strenuous cardio exercises you'll use more energy and thus be depleted afterwards. In a similar fashion, if you accelerate fast, brake hard and speed, your car will likewise expend (and thus require) more energy. Speeding and rapid acceleration can use up to 30 per cent more fuel. Try slowing down and driving in a smoother manner. This is generally more pleasant but imperatively also the safer route, which is the most important thing to consider when you're on the road.

Additional Factors

I'm sure you're aware that air-conditioning increases fuel expenditure by as much as up to 10 per cent more. But did you know that not having your tyres fully inflated and carrying unnecessary weight in the car can also increase the amount of fuel your car uses? Just like with the body and exercise - if your runners are broken or you're carrying extra weight (such as dumbbells), your workout is guaranteed to be compromised.

Plan Your Journey and Consider the Necessity to Drive

Let's face it; no one likes to be stuck in traffic. Try to plan your journey ahead of time as often as possible by searching directions on a map that includes real-time traffic data, information about road works and other possible delays such as accidents. Oftentimes there is more than one way to get to your destination so taking this proactive approach will save money on fuel as well as saving you the potential frustration.

Overall, you should always assess the necessity to drive. Did you know that it could take a car up to 8km before the engine is running at maximum efficiency? This makes shorter trips a lot less economical on fuel expenditure.

Is the weather nice and it's not actually that far away? Consider a nice walk or bike ride perhaps with a friend to get where you need to be. Do you have a lot on your mind? Have you experienced a severe lack of downtime lately? Take the train for the chance to relax and let your mind wander. There's nothing more detrimental than driving when you're not able to be fully present mentally. Think about your safety and the safety of other drivers before anything else.

There are many ways to maximise fuel efficiency from purchasing decisions, to managing the way you drive, to assessing each journey on a need-to-drive basis. Implement these today to cut down on unnecessary auto-related expenses.