BY JOHN ELLIS, FINANCIAL ADVISOR
With the sharp rise in petrol and diesel costs over the past weeks many drivers are thinking about ways to save on fuel and where is the best price to be got at the pumps.
A quick search online brought up a newish comparison site called Pumps.ie. The site has more than 1,800 Irish filling stations listed and receives in excess of 500 price updates from the public each day. This, according to the website, “vibrant on-line community ensures that Pumps.ie always has the latest information on filling stations and fuel prices in Ireland”. There is a caveat – “fuel prices are indicative only as they are entered by you the public!”
But less expensive fuel is not the only means to save money and driving around the stations can defeat the purpose. We need to be careful how we use and drive our cars. There is plenty of advice available to ensure you’re making your fuel last for longer. Here are a few:
* Drive in the highest gear possible for the speed you’re travelling. Avoid letting your revs get too high and change gears sooner and gently to conserve fuel. Get into a high gear as quickly and safely as possible.
*Don’t brake suddenly when approaching a red light or stop sign. Take your foot off the accelerator earlier and use the engine to slow you down before applying the brake.
*Don’t drive at high speed unnecessarily – speed limits are not goals! If you have cruise control use it as it will do away with wild variations of speed on long journeys.
I’m sure you have noticed that newer cars have a stop start mechanism that shuts off the engine when the car comes to a stop in traffic. You might have an older car and might think that turning off your engine while waiting can save you fuel too. Not necessarily! Depending on your vehicle, stopping and starting the engine can actually use more fuel rather than conserve it. The general rule of thumb is ,if you’re stopping for a few minutes it’s better to keep the motor running. But if you are at a stand still and are expecting to wait more than three or four minutes then it can be more efficient to turn your engine off and restart when needed.
Have your car serviced regularly. It improves efficiency thereby improving fuel consumption. Ensure correct tyre pressure. Even slightly under the recommended pressure will make your vehicle use more fuel. Check the handbook for the correct tyre pressure.
Playing your favourite music in the car requires energy. So does heating and cooling the interior. Headlights also add to fuel consumption. Therefore minimise your use of ‘electrics’, the heater and air conditioner. If you have daytime running lights fine but if not don’t, don’t use your headlights until it’s dark or you have poor visibility.
If your car doubles as a bin or storage unit, please stop! Clean it out. Remove unnecessary clutter. Get rid of the roof rack until required. Reducing weight and drag will save in the long term. Seemingly fuel efficiency is reduced by up to 2% for every extra 45kg you carry.
Don’t wait for your fuel light to turn on. With such low levels of fuel debris from the bottom of the tank can be caught up and damage the filters and fuel pump. Costly things to repair. Fill your tank up as much as you can, but remember fuel is heavy so get a happy medium.
Petrol evaporates! Sounds stupid but make sure the petrol cap is screwed on tight and if damaged replace as soon as possible.
Plan ahead. Avoid rush hour times and busy roads if possible. Many map apps will give you real time information to plan a journey even giving you alternate routes during the course of your journey thus saving time and fuel. Combine journeys. Make them shorter where possible – less driving means less fuel consumption!
Finally, stop driving! Consider leaving your vehicle at home. Walk for the shorter journeys. Get the bike out. Use public transport. All will indirectly keep your tank topped up. For longer. Happy driving.