Regular servicing, inflated tyres and picking the right drive: Ways to shave your fuel bill

Manage your car’s petrol costs with these easy driving and vehicle maintenance tips

With simple but efficient driving tips, you can trim your petrol bills significantly. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

With petrol prices fluctuating for the past months, it is time to revisit efficient driving tips. These pointers, if applied cumulatively, can possibly halve your fuel bill.

Light is might

A light foot on the pedal is all it takes for your car to maintain speed. Avoid aggressive jabs to the throttle.

Many modern cars sense that as urgency and will switch to a sportier – and hence thirstier – drive mode.

Manual labour

If you drive a manual, shift up early but avoid straining the engine. Choose the appropriate gear for slopes and bends. Some cars will cue you to shift.

Even in an automatic, you may manually shift down for manoeuvres such as overtaking. This is much better than depressing the accelerator with gusto.

Articulated intelligence

Driving intelligently, with your eyes scanning the road ahead, improves efficiency.

For instance, if you see brake lights far ahead coming on, it means you likely have to slow down soon. Lift your foot off the pedal and slow the car down naturally.

Why bother to accelerate and find that you have to brake soon afterwards? Give way to filtering traffic.

Tricks such as driving smart and ensuring your tyres are inflated fully can help control your petrol bills. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Coast when clear

Minimise using the brakes – when it is safe to do so – and avoid coming to a full stop.

Coasting is a virtue. Many modern cars – even electric models – come with a coasting function. Make full use of it. Keep to speed limits and do not tailgate. This way, you will be able to avoid braking and re-accelerating, which are efficiency’s worst enemies.

On open highways, cruising at 90kmh in the middle lane is best for economy.

Under pressure

Make sure tyres are properly inflated. Under‑inflation causes higher resistance and thus burns more fuel.

In fact, it is quite safe to inflate 10 to 15 per cent more than what the car manufacturer recommends. The ride comfort may suffer a little, but fuel economy will likely improve.

Good service

Make sure your car is serviced regularly by a proper workshop. A well-maintained vehicle will definitely perform more efficiently than one that is not. Also, ensure wheels are well-aligned. Do not stint on lubricants – you get what you pay for. 

Cool running

Adjust the climate control to a comfortable level. There is no need to bring the temperature down to 18 deg C. Also, idling with the air‑conditioning switched on is not only unwise, but it is also illegal.

Weight watch

Every 25kg of weight raises consumption by 1 per cent. So, try not to lug too many things in the car.

On this front, be mindful that a litre of petrol weighs roughly a kilogram, so you might want to avoid filling up a full tank each time.

Final destination

Plan your journey so you can get to where you want faster and avoid rush-hour jams. And when you have arrived, do not cruise around for the most convenient parking space.

Choice picking

Pick the right car. If you have ready access to charging stations, an electric car is an option.  Right now, the total ownership cost of an electric car is still higher, but things look to change in the next few years.

A petrol-electric hybrid is a good compromise. You immediately save 25 to 35 per cent on fuel.

This story by Christopher Tan first appeared in The Straits Times. Additional reporting by Alvin Wong.

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