Save Fuel, Save Moola | 10 Fuel Efficiency Tips

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Yesterday I went on a little photo mission to give my eyes a break from the laptop and to just breathe in something else than inside-air. It was the perfect day; the weather played along, the sky was oh-so-blue and oh-so-clear and there were some nice water reflections going on. I got my out camera, walked down a hill, went into squat position to take a photo, turned on the camera and then my camera kindly told me: No card present.

Great.

My memory card was at home, snuggly resting in my card reader, a few too many kilometres from where I was squatting for the shot.

Great.

And even greater is that I wanted to do this photo mission pre-first Wednesday of the new month, or rather, pre-fuel price hike because if there’s one thing I don’t like then it is wasting fuel.

Save Fuel: Tips on how to be fuel-conscious

This is however not the first time I’ve been in a oops-I-forgot-my-card situation. Memory card. Bank card. Electricity Meter Card. You name it, it happens. But regardless of my brilliant gift to remember things I do have some fuel tips that might come in handy.

save fuel

Tip #1: Don’t forget things

Rich coming from me, but have a mental check list before you leave anywhere. Make notes. Send yourself emails. Write it on your hand. Whatever it takes to avoid extra trips and to save fuel.

Tip #2: Plan your trip

Drive with a plan, instead of popping in and out of places throughout the day, rather do it all at once and work your way from one end to the other end through the shortest way possible with the least traffic because traffic means idling and idling means wasted fuel.

Tip #3: Check your tyre pressure

Pump ‘em. Flatties require more energy to roll and more energy means higher fuel consumption. Plus, it is safer and your tyres will last longer. Rule of thumb is to check it every two weeks.

Tip #4: Brake gently

Avoid hard braking to save fuel. Your brakepads will also be happy chappies about this decision.

Tip #5: Don’t accelerate like a race car driver

Go easy and accelerate gradually. Hate to break it to you but you are not an F1 driver. According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) you use 20% more fuel when you brake suddenly or accelerate aggressively.

(I constantly have to remind myself about this because in my mind’s eye every person at the traffic light wants to ‘dice’. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I was born in Despatch, attended high school in Uitenhage and now lives in Port Elizabeth?)

Tip #5: Slow down

We all have to get to our destinations, and yes, why would you go 100 km/h when you can go 120 km/h? Well, speed increases fuel consumption – it basically eats those diesel and petrol juices for breakfast – so by reducing your speed you might be able to treat yourself for breakfast instead. You’ll notice a difference if you just go 10 km/h slower than usual. Also keep in mind that a high gear improves fuel economy, so don’t go around town at a speed of 20 km/h.

Tip #6: Cruise control

Cruise control helps you to maintain a steady speed when out on the long road. Use it.

Tip #7: Windows and Air-conditioning

Open windows can slow your vehicle down which in turn means more fuel is needed to keep the same speed and air-conditioning also works on the engine and your fuel consumption. Don’t suffocate or melt from the heat, but use your windows and AC wisely. Also, fun fact: it takes much more to run an air-con at a lower speed than a higher speed.

Tip #8: Do a bit of maintenance

Have your car serviced, let those mechanics check everything that will stand in the way between you and a better fuel consumption; from spark plugs to air filters and motor oil. Also keep tabs on your fuel consumption and compare it to notice drastic changes.

Tip #9: Save fuel and hitch a ride

Going somewhere? Go with a friend. Carpool. It’s cool.

Tip #10: Don’t drive

After the announcement of the fuel price hike the Government’s advice to beat the increase was to “drive less”. Not very helpful, but if you can, walk, cycle, skateboard or use public transport.


Let’s talk about the Nissan Qashqai

I put foot to pedal in the Nissan Qashqai and even though I had to double-check how to pronounce the tongue twister of a name, it was surely a very comfortable and stylish ride. 

The top of the range Tekna model comes out with all the goodies from an easy to use touchscreen infotainment system to safety features such as the blind spot warning that beeps and flashes when there’s something (or even someone) in your blind spot. Plus, seat warmers (hello winter!). There is also the Intelligent Around View Mirror which are 4 cameras giving you a panoramic view (even from the top) of your surroundings, it comes in quite handy when parking.

The 6-speed manual transmission has a 1.5 litre, four cylinder turbodiesel engine and there are also other models in this range, such as the 1.2 Turbo Visia (about a R100 000 less than than 1.5DCI Tekna), but with less safety features. All in all, definitely a great family car. 

The 1.5DCI Tekna promises a fuel consumption of 4.2 l/100 km (on a combined cycle). With a combination of dirt roads, giving way to elephants, long distance and driving around town I was a kilometre or four short of making the 1000 km cut on one tank of fuel (capacity 65 liters) before I handed the keys back; according to the fuel range indicator I could still drive for about 20 km. 

The one feature that I did not enjoy on this car (and will probably never enjoy on any car) is the electronic handbrake. Manufacturers constantly strive to make every day driving easier, but geez, there is definitely no art or effort in pulling up a good ol’ handbrake. There’s just something about the sound of pressing the knoppie of the electronic handbrake that I don’t trust; fancy things create fancy and expensive problems. When you stall the car the electronic handbrake switches on automatically and while I am sure you can turn this automatic reaction off, I don’t want to read a manual when it comes to something as simple as a handbrake. I also once parked in front of a fence, and it was on a bit of a downhill slope, but could not do a proper clutch control because the hand brake can’t be released unless you’re in first gear. Again, there may be a way around this but who has time to figure things out like that? Sure, it comes with Hill Start Assist, but what happens when you’re going down? I’ll forever be a fan girl of the old-fashioned hand brake. 

And to guy who flipped me off at a traffic light two seconds after the car stalled, thanks, you’re so kind. Your patience was on par with my patience with the electronic brake. 

For more info about the Nissan Qashqai, click here

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