How to keep your fuel bill under control

AutoTrader NZ
Published 3 September 2020

Motorists can limit the impact of rising fuel prices by being more aware of when and how they drive, says AA PetrolWatch spokesman Mark Stockdale.

“Motorists will be noticing that it now costs over $100 to fill their car and thinking about how to manage their fuel costs.”

Stockdale says most people can save on their fuel bill – potentially up to 40% – with some simple vehicle checks and changes to the way they drive.

1. Love your car – regular servicing, the right tyres, topping up your tyre pressure every few weeks and correct wheel alignment can save 10-20% fuel compared with a poorly maintained vehicle.

2. Don’t speed – travel at no more than the 100km/h speed limit because travelling at 110km/h can cost you up to 13% more fuel.

3. Drive smoothly – accelerate smoothly and change gear early without labouring the engine. In automatics, allow the transmission to change up early by accelerating on a light throttle.

4. Look ahead – rather than braking late, ease off the pedal ahead of changing traffic lights and when entering lower speed zones. Keeping a safe following distance will also help you maintain a more constant speed.

5. Corner smoothly – don’t brake hard for corners and then accelerate out. Slow gently, negotiate and exit the corner on a light throttle.

6. Make hills work for you – lift off the throttle as you crest the hill and use the car’s momentum to get you over the top. Build up speed before an uphill stretch.

7. Watch your air con – use your air-conditioning instead of having your windows down which creates drag. Air conditioning also reduces fatigue, but it can use up to 10% more fuel, so put it on the economy setting when you don’t need it. Likewise switch off rear window demist and other similar features when their job is done.

8. Keep your load down – a heavier vehicle makes the engine work harder, so remove those golf clubs, bike rack or roof rack when you’re not using them.

9. Reduce idling time – if you’re stationary for more than 30 seconds turn your engine off, and avoid peak hour traffic whenever possible.

10. Avoid short trips – about a third of car trips are less than 2km, so combine tasks into one trip or walk.

AA tests last year revealed the following fuel saving results from these actions:

  • Air-conditioning off – saved 8.68%*
  • Using fuel-efficient tyres – saved 4.71%
  • Incorrect tyre pressures – used 7.76% more
  • Added weight and drag – used 11.11% more
  • Poor driving style – used almost 20% more