With the conflict in Ukraine showing no signs of ending, our dependence on fossil fuels has yet again become a serious concern.
Oil prices recently shot up to over US$130 per barrel. Although prices have since cooled (at time of writing), there’s no way to predict whether they will continue to fall.
What we do know is that all grades of petrol now cost over $3 per litre. We also know that if most countries ban Russian oil from markets, prices are likely to rise even further.
Even if other oil-producing countries raise production, it will take time before overall supply begins to meet demand.
Whatever happens, one thing is certain: The best way to lessen the impact of petrol prices is to improve your fuel economy. Here are nine sure-fire ways of saving petrol.
KEEP YOUR CAR IN TUNE
All your other petrol-saving tactics will come to naught if your car is in a sorry state. Engines are complex machines with lots of moving parts, and if something is off, its efficiency drops.
Service your car according to the manufacturer’s recommended intervals. If you frequent a third-party workshop, ensure that they use the correct grade of oil for your model. If you’re unsure about engine oil brands, sticking to one of the big-name manufacturers, such as Mobil or Shell.
DON’T PUMP PREMIUM PETROL
Most cars will run just fine on RON 95 or even RON 92 petrol. Don’t ask for RON 98 unless the owner’s manual specifies that your model requires it.
Premium grade fuels can deliver better performance – provided it’s actually what your engine was designed for. If you have a regular runabout – like most folks – filling up with RON 98 won’t make your car accelerate any faster.
If running costs are a concern, switch to a lower RON.
SKIP THE ADDITIVES
Additives that are formulated to keep your fuel system clean can be useful. But here’s the thing: Petrol companies in Singapore add their own blend of additives to the base fuel. And, generally speaking, the quality of petrol here is good.
Skip the additives and put some money back in your pocket.
It’s tempting to let your car idle while waiting to pick up your family. But if you have to wait longer than 30 seconds, it’s best to just switch off your engine.
Besides, if an NEA officer catches you leaving your car idling while parked, a hefty fine could be headed your way. Do yourself and the environment a favour by switching off your engine.
Driving in a smooth and gentle manner is one of the best ways to improve fuel economy. Anticipating traffic conditions and the behaviour of other motorists, coupled with gentle pedal and steering inputs, can drastically lessen your fuel consumption.
Conversely, a heavy right foot coupled with abrupt and hard braking will hasten your next visit to the petrol kiosk.
AVOID PEAK HOURS
Being stuck in slow-moving or stop-and-go traffic is one of the best ways to burn a hole in your pocket.
That said, avoiding rush hour is easier said than done. Ideally your company should have implemented flexible working hours by now, which should allow you the option of either starting and leaving late, or starting and leaving earlier.
If neither is an option, then use Waze to help you find the most ideal route to your destination. Sometimes, the recommended route can seem strange, but honestly, more often than not, it really is the quickest way.
FIT ECO-FRIENDLY TYRES
If you don’t consider yourself a driving enthusiast, then swapping your tyres for an eco-friendly model will help improve your fuel economy over time.
Eco-friendly tyres have lower rolling resistance compared to high-performance tyres. That means your engine does not work as hard to turn them, thereby reducing petrol consumption. As a bonus, most eco-friendly tyres tend to have pliant sidewalls, which means better ride quality.
Now, don’t forget to keep your tyres correctly inflated. Underinflated tyres increase rolling resistance (poorer fuel economy), while grossly overinflated tyres can lead to poorer grip.
ALIGN YOUR WHEELS
How can you tell if your wheel alignment is off? Well, if you’re driving on a straight and level surface, the car should track straight and true, and not veer to either side. If you need to keep the steering wheel angled left or right to keep the car going in a straight line, the alignment is off.
Misaligned wheels lead to frequent corrections and contribute to higher fuel consumption. In the long run, it’ll also cause uneven tyre wear.
Commuting may take more time, but it does mean more exercise as you walk to bus stops and MRT stations. Standing on buses and trains also trains your sense of balance. If your office has a nice shower, why not cycle to work?
Of course, the best benefit is that it costs less to commute than it does to drive. Petrol, parking and ERP charges can really make a dent in your budget.
You don’t have to always leave the car at home. Let’s say you head to the office every day. Commuting once a week means not driving four days every month. That will surely help you improve your fuel economy and stretch your dollar.
7 ways to reduce your car running costs