Frugal Motoring Tips From Two Fuel-Efficiency Experts

Frugal Motoring Tips From Two Fuel-Efficiency Experts

John and Helen Taylor hold the world record for more than 40 fuel economy driving challenges. They therefore know a few things about saving a few bucks at the bowser. Currently, the pair are in the midst of a 19,000km road trip across Australia in an attempt to smash their car’s average fuel usage. Read on for their top five bowser hacks.

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The Taylors’ latest fuel-efficiency challenge began in Melbourne and will finish in Hobart later in the month. The trip is set to cover urban streets, open roads and country towns, with free workshops held in select destinations along the way. During the cross-country jaunt, they aim to use up to 15% less petrol than the manufacturers’ recommended L/100 km.

Before they set out, we asked John and Helen to share some petrol-saving hacks suitable for everyday motorists. Here’s their top five!

#1 Check Your Tyre Pressure

“The first tip and one of the most important things you can do is to keep your tyres at the right pressure. This can sometimes slip our minds, but correctly inflated tyres are safer and they last longer. A tyre that is under inflated by just 1psi can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 3%! An under or over inflated tyre is also more susceptible to failing.”

#2 Ease off the pedal

“To help save pocket cash, it’s absolutely key to take off gently. You should also try to drive smoothly and avoid unnecessary acceleration and breaking. This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by the number of motorists who rarely put it into practice. For instance, a Caltex poll found that a third of Australians didn’t know how much they could save if they drove more efficiently over a 12 month period.”

#3 Lessen the load

“Another tactic that all Aussie drivers need to consider to reduce fuel consumption is to avoid carrying excess weight. Travel as light as possible as for every extra 45 kg you carry, your fuel efficiency can drop by 2%. It’s super important to keep your boot or back seat clear of unnecessary items that just add weight to your vehicle. Clean out your cars and only keep what you need.”

#4 Regular servicing

“One thing that we’ve found that many Aussies forget is the importance of correctly tuning your engine. It’s vital to tune and service your engine consistently and effectively. A well-tuned engine can improve fuel economy greatly, so change your oil and follow your car manufacturer’s recommendation on servicing.”

#5 Kill the engine

“According to the latest Caltex research, 82% of Aussies are unaware that standing still in a queue with the car running wastes fuel. Excess idling is huge waster of fuel! If you’re waiting in a queue (which is inevitable if you live in a city) or waiting to pick someone up, you need to turn the engine off until you need it. It’s as easy as that!”

See also: Bowser Tips For Cheaper Petrol Prices | Why Petrol Prices Have Fallen (And How That Saves Money Elsewhere)


  • #2 Definitely avoid unnecessary breaking!
    EDIT: Emphasis added to the incorrect spelling of the word braking.

  • For instance, a Caltex poll found that a third of Australians didn’t know how much they could save if they drove more efficiently over a 12 month period.”

    Thats a bit of a stupid statement, i’m actually surpised that 2/3rds have done the math and can equivocally say they will save x% if they drove more efficiently, not to mention “more efficiently” is not a quantifier depening on your driving style and how much you deem “more efficiently” to be you could save 0% (if the only way to use less petrol is to not use the car) to 90% (if you redline it from start to stop)

    I know i CAN be more efficient, i dont have the foggiest how much id save, but i know it would be a lot less fun (not that I’m a hoon, my wife is the leadfoot, but i don’t crawl off from the lights). If going 0 to 60 in 8 seconds vs 0 to 60 in 20 seconds means you miss a green light you’ve probably wasted any savings you could have made and you have to wait longer.

    • I would say Caltex didn’t know how much money 100% of the respondents would save.

  • #5 definitely saves fuel, but if you’re not in a car designed to power off/on at the lights can be dangerous, and I’d even suspect you could be charged for not being in control of your vehicle. A lot of European/US market cars require you clutch in to start if manual, and if auto it means putting the car in park at the lights and having to start and move it back to D.

  • I’m a bit dubious about turning my engine off and on during trips too much. I’ve already flattened the battery with short trips alone.

    I guess if you can be bothered recharging your battery more than once a week it could work.

    • Err, that is a sign of a failing battery or faulty charging system. That simply should not be the case even making frequent short trips.

      See an auto electrician.

  • buy unleaded over e10, its a 4% fuel efficiency increase, and seeing as e10 is never 4% cheaper, its a no brainer

    • Yep. Pretending E10 saves anything is incorrect. It doesn’t save on fuel economy, it isn’t better for your car, it takes up valuable arable land that should be used to grow food crops and the additional water, power and processing really does nothing for the environment either.

    • I totally agree, I’ve also seen up to 10% better fuel economy running 98 unleaded over standard unleaded, depending on the car.

  • What many don’t know is don’t drive too slowly! The most efficient way to accelerate is to use a moderately high amount of throttle but shift gears at low rpm. The most efficient speed to cruise at, assuming you’ll get to stay at that speed for a reasonable amount of time (i.e. #2 in the article is still correct), is typically the bottom of top gear.

  • Definitely avoid unnecessary breaking. Probably won’t matter much for fuel economy though.

  • I was braking repeatedly when driving downhill to prevent breaking the law for speeding, and I have to curb my anger when reading that someone parked at the curb instead of the KERB!

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