News and Reviews

Tips to improve your fuel economy

August, 2013

Perth fuel prices hit an all-time high this July, with the highest daily metropolitan average hitting a cruel 160.6 cents per litre. With summer congestion fast approaching and fuel prices through the roof, squeezing the most out of your tank is more appealing than ever. We take a look at the best (and some obvious) ways to improve your fuel economy by keeping an eye on your mileage, staying abreast of services and avoiding congestion on busy roads this summer.

Real time mileage tracking devices

Train yourself in fuel efficiency by monitoring your kilometres per litre (kpl) using real time mileage tracking gadgetry. Keeping track of your kpl’s tank-to-tank works okay, but being able to see your kpl efficiency in real time is a whole new ball game.

Think of it this way: you’re coasting down the highway at a cool 80km/h – a seemingly fuel efficient pursuit – but your mileage tracking device is still reporting a low kpl. You can experiment with fuel efficiency here: you might close your windows, or pull over and remove those roof racks and see the kpl rise. Using a real time mileage tracker means you become familiar with what’s letting you down in the fuel economy department and helps you manipulate fuel efficiency variables as you go.

If you’ve got a modern car (manufactured in the last 10-15 years) we recommend giving the DIY Scangauge a shot, otherwise head down to your local car service and repairs centre to have a chat about built-in kpl tracking devices.

Invest in a fuel efficient car

The best way to increase your kpl is to invest in a fuel efficient car. Most modern cars feature fuel economy technology but with every mainstream car built with compromises in mind – occasionally fuel efficiency falls to the wayside. A recent survey by RACQ showed the Mitsubishi Motors i-MiEV as the most fuel efficient light car for sale in 2013, with an average 3.43 cents per litre running cost. The Kia Sorento Si 4WD wagon was the most fuel efficient SUV medium car, while the Mitsubishi Pajero GLX wagon was the second most fuel efficient all terrain vehicle. Financing a new or used car may seem out of reach for some – but there are a number of financing options available to buyers including no obligation car loans with no deposit required.

Keeping your car in top notch condition

If you love your car you’ll probably already be up-to-date with auto servicing, but here’s a friendly reminder anyway. Having a well-tuned vehicle is of maximum priority, and you get the additional benefit of an improved fuel economy.

So make sure you have regular services. Your manufacturer’s handbook should recommend the optimal intervals between services and repairs. While you’re reading over the handbook, note the recommended petrol and stick to it.

If you haven’t already, next time you get a service or repair have your mechanic pump those tyres up to the highest pressure as recommended by the manufacturer. We know, we know; an underinflated tyre makes for a smoother ride. But we’re talking fuel efficiency here, and higher tyre pressure reduces your rolling resistance. It’s a rougher ride, but you’ll have a better fuel economy (and extended tire life and improved handling – bonus!).

Behind-the-wheel techniques

Gone are the days of stalling in the middle of an intersection (we hope), but it’s still just as important as ever to be vigilant when changing gears. Driving in a lower than necessary gear wastes fuel and driving in a high gear uphill will labour your engine. Get yourself in the mindset of a cyclist – pumping those pedals uphill is hard, pedalling at top speed is hard, and accelerating fast is hard. Your car is tackling these difficulties too, so go easy on the gas.

A smoother ride makes for a better fuel economy. More revs equals more petrol so give the accelerator a break by maintaining a good distance from the car in front. Keep an eye on break lights ahead so you can sync your movements with the flow of traffic. And avoid peak congestion where you can so you’ll start and stop less. A recent study by The RAC found that traffic on the Tonkin Highway around the Horrie Miller intersection in Perth only managed an average travel speed of 14km/h. Perth locals might like to switch routes or check the average travel times with this interactive report on Perth Travel times.

Got some secrets of your own for maximizing fuel economy? Share your tips below.


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