I won a prize for efficiency, and this is what I learnt

April 16, 2019

Did you know that you could drive in a way that uses less petrol, and therefore saves you more money? The reason for this post is that you, like me, could be spending more than R600 every two/three weeks on petrol, and there is a way to cut down on these costs that doesn’t involve too much work.

A few weeks ago, I won an award with Ford at their Fiesta Fun Economy Challenge event, where we got to drive in the new Fiesta, and see how economically we could do it. I’m competitive if I know that I have a chance to win something, so it was on. Fortunately my driving partner Thabz was as eager as I was.

I know the basics of how to drive in a fuel-efficient way, thanks to a piece I wrote a few months ago for an insurance site. But did I follow even one of the tips I preached? Not one. The Ford Challenge would make me put my money where my mouth was, and drive as economically as possible.

We kept the windows closed, we drove at the lowest speeds tolerable, and even though it was hot, we kept the aircon pretty low. Our average consumption was 3.9l for 100km, which means a tank could go very far. Obviously it helped that we were in a fuel-eficient hatchback – this couldn’t have been achieved with an SUV, for example.

If you’re earnestly looking to get more bang for your hard-earned buck, then follow these tips from Ford. They apply to all makes of cars, but some are applicable to manual vehicles only.

Use the highest gear and lowest engine speeds possible

Always remain in gear when driving downhill

With your foot off the accelerator, you’re actually driving for free as no fuel is being used. Instead, the car is using momentum and gravity to keep it moving – check it out on the car’s instant fuel consumption gauge. This also helps the driver maintain control of the car, and reduces wear on the brakes by using engine braking.

Use the vehicle’s momentum and built-up energy

Pay attention to the traffic lights and the movement of traffic ahead to avoid unnecessary accelerating and braking. If the traffic lights have turned red, immediately lift off the accelerator to save fuel, and use engine braking to help slow the vehicle.

Switch off the engine when idling for extended periods

Leaving a car idling wastes fuel and creates unnecessary exhaust emissions. Several of Ford’s latest models have Auto-Start-Stop that switches the engine off when stationary to reduce fuel consumption.

Check your car’s tyre pressures regularly

Driving with low pressures increases the tyre’s rolling resistance, thereby raising fuel consumption. Always use the recommended tyre pressures as shown on the inside of the driver’s door.

Remove excess weight and accessories when not in use

Driving a vehicle that is loaded uses a lot more fuel than when it is unladen. Avoid carrying unnecessary items in the vehicle. Remove accessories such as roof racks when they aren’t being used, as they cause additional wind resistance.

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1 Comment

  • Theresa Vika

    Thanks for this great article Tanya. It is small things that we can do to alleviate the burden we face due the constant increase in prices.
    I always thought that driving down hill , it s more fuel efficient to be on neutral, forgetting the adverse impact of the braking which needs to be applied.

    April 16, 2019 at 10:35 am Reply
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