How to Get the Most Out of Every Drop of Petrol Right Now

How to Get the Most Out of Every Drop of Petrol Right Now
Photo: k_samurkas, Shutterstock

Unless you don’t own a car, haven’t driven recently or have a powerful aversion to paying attention to economic news (fair), you’ve probably noticed petrol prices are soaring across Australia.

The jump is largely attributed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, coming on top of already-low oil production and rising demand. Some analysts believe the cost to consumers could increase even more, and stay elevated for a while.

The most obvious thing to do to save on petrol right now is to drive less: skip unnecessary trips, run a bunch of errands in the same area of town in one go, and take public transit or walk when you can.

Because it probably isn’t realistic to stop driving entirely, you’ll definitely want to look for the cheapest petrol possible, but there are also a handful of ways to maximise your fuel economy and minimise the number of stops at the pump.

Drive smarter

One way to improve efficiency is to drive more conservatively. Avoid both unnecessary and rapid acceleration and braking by looking ahead at stoplights and anticipating slowdowns. Aggressive stop-and-start patterns can cost you 15 –30% in fuel economy on the highway and 10–40% per cent in city traffic.

Similarly, keep your speed relatively consistent: use cruise control where possible and aim for the express passes on toll roads. Fuel economy tends to top out at around 80 km per hour, so try to stay close to that if speed limits and driving conditions allow. If you’re actually commuting to an office, drive at off-peak, non-rush hours to limit stop-and-go traffic, provided your work schedule allows for that flexibility.

When you’re stopped, whether in a drive-thru or waiting for a friend to join you in the car, turn off the engine rather than idling, which wastes fuel and contributes to poor air quality. Waiting for your engine to heat up before you start driving may also waste fuel, as can multiple cold starts. Using temperature controls in hot weather can also influence fuel consumption. If it’s hot out, park in the shade, and try to minimise air conditioning use as much as possible.

Keep your car well-maintained

You probably already know that tire pressure affects gas mileage — underinflated tires increase resistance and decrease efficiency, possibly increasing your vehicle’s fuel consumption by up to 3 per cent. Check your tire pressure at least once a month.

It’s good practice to stay on top of other regular maintenance as well, as any faulty functions could potentially reduce your fuel economy. Buying and using your manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil may also help you stretch out that tank for a few more miles.

Reduce your load

If you have roof racks or roof boxes that create drag, remove them when not in use. According to Consumer Reports tests, these add-ons can reduce fuel economy by anywhere from 3 km per litre to 20 km per litre. Rear-mount racks have an impact ranging from 1–5%.

Remove cargo you don’t need to be hauling around, whether that’s sporting equipment or boxes of items waiting for donation, or random clutter. Shedding even 45 kg of unnecessary stuff can improve fuel economy by 1 per cent.

Log in to comment on this story!