31/05/2018 13:05 SAST | Updated 31/05/2018 13:05 SAST

These 9 Smart Driving Ideas Will Literally Save You Fuel, And Money

...because these fuel hikes in 2018 are real.

MajaMitrovic via Getty Images

This June, motorists should brace themselves for an increase of 74 cents per litre in the petrol price, and 81 cents per litre for diesel, according to the Automobile Association. The fuel price is expected to blow past R15 per litre to new record highs.

This as South Africans are still reeling from April and May's fuel hikes — in addition to April's fuel levy and VAT increase.

And while this will surely hit many drivers' pockets, smart driving could increase your fuel economy.

"People often underestimate the impact that their driving habits have on fuel consumption, but minor tweaks can help protect your pocket at the pump," said Susan Steward, marketing manager of Budget Insurance.

Budget Insurance recommends these practical tips:

1. Avoid speeding

High speeds result in high fuel consumption. At 110km/h your car uses up to 25 percent more fuel than it would cruising at a more moderate 90km/h.

2. Drive in a higher gear

As a rule of thumb, the higher the gear, the lower the petrol consumption, so always drive in the highest gear possible, without straining the engine by letting the revs drop too low.

3. Take care of your wheels

Incorrect wheel alignment and under-inflated tyres lead to increased resistance between the tyres and the road, which in turn leads to higher fuel consumption, as well as increased wear and tear on tyres.

Check your tyre pressure at least once a month. Alignment should be checked at least once a year, but a check every six months, or after incidents like hitting a pothole or curb, is advisable.

4. Regular check-up for your car

Many components in your car impact fuel consumption, and if they're not working properly, you could be paying a hefty price. Everything from dirty oil and dirty air filters to dirty injectors, a faulty exhaust, worn spark plugs or low coolant levels can contribute to bad fuel efficiency, so make sure they all get a regular check-up.

5. Air-con management

Did you know that your car uses more fuel powering your air-con when you're travelling at low speed and less at a higher speed? This is because the higher the revs, the more power the engine produces, allowing it to run the air-conditioning more efficiently. So if you're driving a short distance, and travelling at a lower speed, for example under 80km per hour, open the window instead of switching on the air-con.

6. Switch on and go

A warm car on a cold winter morning is comfortable, but that time spent idling while your car warms up is costing you money. Try not let your car idle for much longer than a minute.

7. Avoid traffic, if you can

If you can avoid major congestion, do. It will end up saving you time, frustration and fuel. Use your traffic app by checking alternative, less congested routes.

8. Don't be a drag

There are many things that cause or increase drag, including driving with the windows open and attaching carriers or bikes to the roof. To decrease drag, keep the windows closed, especially at high speeds, and attach additional weight to the rear of the car instead of the roof.

9. Carpool

Carpooling or joining a lift club is not only a great way to save fuel and reduce wear and tear on your car, it can also be a great stress reliever, giving you the freedom to relax while someone else is driving.