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Petrol price hikes: Here are 8 ways to save on fuel

woman holding petrol nozzle and cash
Comparing fuel prices is one of the most effective ways to save on petrol. (Source: Getty)

Petrol prices have shot back over $2 a litre again, prompting many motorists to look for opportunities to save on fuel.

Even with the halved fuel excise tax, the national petrol price stood at $2.06 a litre at the start of the week, marking the highest price since the peak of late March.

High wholesale oil prices were mostly to blame, largely caused by the European Union’s sanctions on Russia and other supply issues, including a fire at a refinery.

A weaker Australian dollar has also been playing a role.

Fortunately, Carsales director of content Mike Sinclair has eight tips to keep your fuel costs down, with some rough estimates of how much you could save:

  1. Don't skip maintenance: A poorly tuned engine uses more fuel. Just a 2.0l/100km difference in average fuel economy equates to 200 litres per 10,000km travelled, which is around a $400 saving per 10,000km if fuel is $2 a litre.

  2. Monitor tyre pressure: A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US found that cars use more fuel when their tyres aren’t inflated enough. For example, tyres 20 per cent under inflation increased fuel consumption by 4 per cent. An extra 4 per cent would add $400 per 10,000km when fuel is priced at $2 a litre.

  3. Drive better: You can actually improve fuel economy by tweaking your driving style, such as accelerating gradually when the light turns green rather than hitting the accelerator hard. Fuel efficient driving habits could improve the fuel economy by as much as 2.0l/100km, which could again lead to around a $400 saving per 10,000km travelled if fuel is $2 a litre.

  4. Don’t idle: It’s estimated the fuel consumption of an idling engine is 0.6 litres/hr per litre of engine displacement. This means that an idling 2.0 litre engine consumes 1.2 litres of petrol per hour.That’s why modern cars have auto start/stop. Letting your engine idle 30 minutes a day commuting equates to 150 litres per year. When fuel is $2 a litre, that’s around $300 each year.

  5. Choose your vehicle wisely: If you are looking to buy a new car, it might be worth considering a small, fuel-efficient model rather than a larger, heavier fuel-guzzler. While some people will need larger models for work or to ferry children around in, if you can go smaller, you could end up saving thousands of litres per year.

  6. Plan your itinerary in advance: This one is pretty obvious, but you can save thousands of kilometres a year by making sure you go the shortest, quickest route. Driving during off-peak times will also cut down on fuel usage.

  7. Shed some weight: An MIT study in 2008 suggested that for every 10kg reduction, the combined city/highway fuel consumption could decrease by about 0.04 L/100 km for cars. By carrying an extra 50kg of stuff around in your car for 10,000km you will use an extra 200 litres, which amounts to around $400 per 10,000km if fuel is $2 a litre.

  8. Compare prices with petrol apps: This one is dead easy, and super effective. It’s not uncommon for there to be a 28-cent difference between the highest and lowest-priced fuel, which amounts to serious savings over the course of a year. There are several different apps and websites for comparing fuel prices that you can use.

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