Tips to cut your fuel bill

MELISSA WISHART
Last updated 16:58 16/07/2013

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Nobody likes wasting money on petrol, and record fuel prices are making that harder to avoid.

Luckily, there are a few simple dos and don'ts can knock 20 per cent off your fuel bill, AA spokesman Andrew Bayliss says.

For someone driving a 1.8-litre car 14,000km a year, that saves more than $400 -- or nearly $10 a week.

DO

* Drive smoothly - avoid sudden braking or accelerating too often and too fast. If you're coming to a stop, ease off the accelerator rather than braking suddenly.

* Keep a consistent speed - if you have cruise control, setting it to one speed could save up to five per cent of fuel.

* Remove excess weight - got too much junk in the trunk? Extra weight will mean your engine is working harder.

* Service regularly - depending on your vehicle's age and the manufacturer's recommendations, you should service it every six months, or 10,000kms. For newer cars, it might be every 12 months or 20,000kms.

* Make your car more aerodynamic - if you don't need the bike or roof rack, take it off.

* Roll down windows - air conditioning will use gas, so driving with windows down is more fuel efficient, except at high speeds, when air resistance outweighs the benefits.

* Use the right gas -- pay attention to the manufacturer's recommendation for which gas type to use. Your car might run better on 91 instead of the more expensive 98.

* Watch your revs - if you drive a manual, try to be in the right gear. With most engines it's acceptable to shift up a gear at about 2000rpm, but get to know how your own car feels when it's running at the right rpm.

* Make sure tyres are correctly inflated -- tyre pressure information should be found inside the driver's door pillar (or sometimes the passenger side), or the owner's manual. Driving a car with under-inflated tyres increased fuel consumption by nearly eight per cent, the AA found.

DON'T

* Tailgate - yes, we all hate being stuck behind someone doing 80kmh when the limit is 100kmh, but sitting close behind them is dangerous and you have to brake more often.

* Avoid short trips - they aren't worth the fuel if you can easily get there some other way. 

* Turn your car off in traffic - many people say turn off your car instead of idling, but it isn't worth it if you idle only for a minute. The petrol used to start again will usually be more than what is used idling.

* Go out of your way to make left turns only - they say two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts do. You shouldn't take it as driving advice, however. You save a marginal amount if you avoid waiting at right turns, and you may even waste fuel by detouring.

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* Cruise down a hill or to a stop in neutral - we may sneakily clutch in or pop into neutral, but in most modern cars, this actually wastes gas. A lot of cars using fuel injectors cut off fuel once pressure is removed from the accelerator and momentum takes over. Putting it into neutral does not do this.

* Warm up your car - sitting idle for half a minute to let the engine warm up is not necessary with modern cars. Just take it easy for the first few kilometres.

* Drive a manual - manuals were once better on fuel as drivers were in control of the rpm, but newer automatic cars choose the optimum gear for fuel savings. 

- Fairfax Media

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