If you are living in Sydney and Melbourne, you might not need a car. Public transport is excellent in getting you to and from where ever you might need to go.
Having a car, however, will give you the freedom to go where you want. And although Holden has stopped manufacturing vehicles in Australia, you can still own new Holden cars to celebrate its Australian origin.
Owning and running a car, as every car owner knows, is not trivial in cost. Besides the car itself, you have the of insurance, the occasional maintenance and, of course, fuel.
And although fuel prices in Australia are a lot better than in some Western European countries, or Hong Kong for that matter, it’s not as cheap as in the US. Gasoline prices for Australia are 1.08 USD per litre versus 0.84 USD in the United States according to GlobalPetrolPrices.com (June 2018). Owning a car in Hong Kong does look daunting with 2.12 USD per litre. To keep you running without breaking the bank, here are some handy tips to keep your fuel costs low.
Your tires can be a significant source of fuel inefficiency. Check and maintain your tires regularly. Old and worn tires will influence the performance of your car on the road.
If the tread is severely fading and general wear and tear are affecting the overall state an of a wheel, the engine will have to work harder to produce the same forward force as it would with new tires.
The general advice is to check your tires from time to time and get it checked out if you are unsure. If you think you might have damaged a tire, use your spare wheel, and get a professional opinion.
In general, you should try not to overload your car and drive too fast, as this will shorten the lifespan of your tires.
Another common problem some drivers ignore is the tire pressure. Driving with the wrong pressure can seriously affect car performance and safety. Over inflating your tire can lead to less contact with the road than designed and therefore less traction.
This can be dangerous in wet weather. Under-inflated tires will make too much contact with the road, leading to less responsive driving, higher fuel consumption and more heat build-up in the tire and thus shortening its lifespan. And if you can’t find your car’s manual, checking tire pressures is as easy as a quick online search.
Going from the bottom of your car to your rooftop. If you are driving around with a roof rack and box that is not in use, consider storing it away until you need it. Driving around with those additional accessories will cause additional drag which will impact fuel efficiency.
The same can be said for rooftop bike carriers, although it would be safe to assume you won’t be taking a bike needlessly. In the same vein as avoiding drag, also prevent having a boot full of your possessions.
If they are core essentials, keep them, but that golf set you might use 4 weeks from now can be stored away elsewhere. The less you load up the car and remove drag, the less fuel you are wasting, plus it might even lengthen your engine life as well.
Talking about your engine, consider what you put in it as well. And although the fuel brands might hint otherwise, you don’t need premium fuel. Fuel usually comes with a number usually in the 90s, which stands for the ‘octane rating’.
This rating, the higher, the better, refers to the fuel’s resistance to burning too early inside the engine before it reaches the spark plugs. This is only a factor with high revs and large throttle openings which are associated with high performance and muscle cars. And unless you are driving one of those, you probably don’t need to spend extra to get premium.
Research conducted in 2016 by the American Automobile Association (AAA) concluded that American drivers wasted more than $2.1 billion each year, filling up their cars with premium fuels their vehicles weren’t designed for.
Somewhere where ‘premium’ can help your pocket is engine oil. What you are after is ‘low viscosity’ oil. The viscosity describes the ‘stickiness’ of the oil. Low viscosity is more fluid and will flow faster through the engine, helping it run smoothly.
Friction inside the engine counts as one of the major factors of energy losses and therefore fuel inefficiency. Using high quality and low viscosity engine oil can make each litre of petrol last longer.
Driving fast has already been mentioned as a source of fuel inefficiency, but there are plenty of other driving habits that can save you money. Rapid acceleration and braking is the most energy consuming way to drive. To make most of the petrol you are burning, try to drive consistently.
If you have on the highway and have cruise control, use it. When you need to speed up, accelerate gradually and read the road ahead to avoid random brakes. Avoid idling if you can help it. Common sense is to switch off the engine if you are just waiting stationary. Another thing to avoid is coasting in neutral. Idling will always use more fuel than when an engine is in gear.
Another habit to get into is not always to rely on satnavs and mobile maps. Check your journey ahead of time and learn your way around. The direction your satnav is taking you might not always be the most efficient one. Lots of stopping in the starting in urban areas can be more fuel consuming than taking a slight detour on the highway.
Also, some cars, especially smaller and hybrid ones, do better in urban areas than more conventional cars.
Finally, shop around for fuel. Petrol stations can have different prices, and it might be worth your time to look around. Being more efficient with fuel is not only better for the environment, but it’s also much milder on your wallet.