These common petrol-saving hacks will not get you more out of your fuel

Motorists have various ways of trying to save fuel, but they don’t always work. Picture: Timothy Bernard

Motorists have various ways of trying to save fuel, but they don’t always work. Picture: Timothy Bernard

Published Mar 4, 2023


Johannesburg - Businesses owning vehicles should brace for another fuel increase in December. Although data earlier this month initially pointed to a much higher increase, it would appear that a slightly lower increase may now be on the cards.

As of March 1, petrol increased by R1.27 a litre. As a result, unleaded 95 petrol now costs R22.95 a litre when filling up inland, and R22.30 a litre at the coast.

Fuel accounts for a large proportion of any business’s expenses, and any increases in this cost have an instantaneous impact on the bottom line.

The upcoming increase in the price of fuel might compel consumers to reconsider their use of fuel and find ways to save as much of it as possible.

There are many tactics that motorists employ that they believe help them save money and get more kilometres out of a litre of fuel. However, some of these “petrol hacks” may not be cost-effective, and could in fact cause more damage in the long term.

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s Central Energy Fund highlights and busts some long-standing myths about how consumers can get the most out of their highly prized fuel.

Myth: Getting more value for your money by filling up in the morning

This myth is based on the assumption that fuel is much denser in the morning. when temperatures are often cooler. This stems from the fact that liquids are less dense in warm temperatures.

However, petrol tanks are stored underground at filling stations and are well-insulated, which means they maintain the same temperature throughout the day. As a result, filling up a vehicle when the weather is cooler will not help motorists save money.

Myth: Shifting your car to neutral at stops and when driving downhill

Cars that are manufactured in this day and age have a fuel-injection system which can detect that the engine is idle. Once the system detects this, the fuel injectors switch off and petrol is not sent into the engine. Shifting your car to neutral in an attempt to save fuel will fast-track the corrosion of the gear’s shift components.

Myth: A manual saves more fuel than an automatic

Modern vehicles are technologically advanced, and modern automatic transmissions are as fuel-efficient as manual ones.

Myth: Cleaning the air filter

Modern vehicles are designed to distribute the accurate fuel and air mixture whether the air filter is cleaned or not. Older vehicles would be easily affected by a dirty air filter, but modern vehicles have the correct mechanisms to regulate the air-to-fuel mixture. While it does not influence fuel consumption, it is good idea to keep the vehicle’s air filter clean, as a dirty one can limit airflow to the air conditioner.

Myth: Using cruise control always saves fuel

The cruise-control feature is good to use on an open road and flat terrain, as it allows the vehicle to maintain a certain speed. However, using cruise control on a road with different terrains may prompt motorists to suddenly accelerate, which uses up more fuel.

Myth: Fuel additives are guaranteed to help you save fuel

Fuel additives are meant to increase a vehicle’s octane rating and help decrease the corrosion rate. The additives that are used for vehicles include antioxidants, ethers, alcohols, detergents, and antiknock agents. Fuel additives are more useful for older vehicles in terms of preventing corrosion and helping clean the fuel system. However, these added chemicals do not help motorists to decrease fuel consumption.

Myth: An almost-full fuel tank prevents fuel evaporation

Modern-day vehicles have vapour-reduction mechanisms which prevent evaporation. A vehicle’s evaporation control emissions system prevents fuel vapours from being released into the atmosphere.

Myth: Shaking your car when filling up does not get you more fuel

Motorists often shake their cars when filling up at petrol stations. The theory behind this is that shaking the car allows you to fill up the tank as much as possible. Overfilling your car can cause extensive damage to the vehicle. You even risk damaging the car’s evaporation-emissions control system.

[email protected]

IOL Business