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10 ways to save on fuel while driving

Every time I see a motorist running with a Jerrycan to a fuel station I wonder whether he/she thinks that the fuel gauge is part of the car’s decoration. To avoid embarrassing moments always plan your journeys and ensure you have enough fuel in the tank. Refuel whenever you see your tank approaching empty.

Fuel prices are however at an all-time high in Kenya, so checking your driving habits will save you a few coins. Here are a few things you can do:

  1. Accelerate smoothly  – The perfect way to save on fuel is to drive at a steady speed. Experts recommend that you drive your car at the highest gear and at 80 kmph. Maintaining discipline on the road and patience will save you a few trips to the fuel station. If you are driving on a highway, you gain nothing by overtaking another car for the sole reason of staying ahead of it.
  2. Do not push the gas pedal (accelerator) to far down – It doesn’t matter what gear you are in. You maybe in a high gear and travelling at a steady speed but if you are pushing the accelerator down a long way to avoid changing into a lower gear (for example into third from fourth) then you’re using more fuel not less. While driving an automatic car, the car will do a better job than you of choosing which gear to be in so it’s not a problem for an automatic.
  3. Turn off the air conditioner – Some parts of Kenya like Kisumu and Mombasa are most of the time hot and humid and so there is the temptation to roll up your windows and turn the air conditioning on. Maybe when you are driving on a dusty road too. You however need to know that the air conditioning consumes a bit of fuel and so you will want to limit its usage. If you are doing trips around town  you will save more fuel rolling down your windows and keeping the AC off.
  4. Check your tyre pressure regularly – This might be unknown to you but when your tyre pressure is low  your car uses more fuel to make it turn. It is advisable to ensure that your tyres are properly inflated. Most tyres have the recommended pressure indicated on their sides. Ask your mechanic if you can’t see it. Check your tyre pressure once every two weeks.
  5. Do not carry unnecessary weight – Your car needs more fuel to move around more weight. So just as you wouldn’t wear a heavy backpack unless if you really had to, don’t leave stuff laying around in the boot of your car. The heavier the item, the more fuel your car will consume.
  6. Avoid rush hours – It is illegal to turn off your engine in traffic. If you live in a city with bad traffic always leave before or after the rush hour. Getting to the office or to school earlier and leaving late could help you in more ways than just saving on fuel.
  7. Service your car regularly – The quality of your engine oil will greatly affect the amount of fuel your car consumes. It is advisable to use synthetic engine oil. In Kenya, Shell Helix range of oil products are the best for your engine. Never exceed your service schedule.
  8. Remove the roof rack from your car – If your car has a roof rack, remove it when you are not using it. The roof rack prevents your car from smoothly driving against the wind thus increases drag and makes your car use more fuel.
  9. Close your windows and sunroof when driving on the highway – When you are driving on the highway and are moving more quickly, the shape of your car is very important. Car designers call it aerodynamics and make lots of effort to reduce ‘drag’ and make the car go as sleek as possible. Anything that makes noise while your car is moving is consuming more fuel. You can’t do much about the design of your car but you can avoid making it consume more fuel on the highway by not leaving the windows or sunroof open. Use the air vents or air-con if it gets too hot.
  10. Plan your trips – Most of the time we consume more fuel simply because we make several trips to the same locality in a day. If you plan your errands based on their location and did those that are in the same locality together you will most definitely significantly reduce your fuel consumption.

Other than just saving fuel, it is important to also also save your engine. Only fill your tank at reputable filling stations where the fuel is regularly inspected.



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