Desperate times call for desperate measures, but do petrol-saving hacks work?

The petrol price is going up again. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency/ANA

The petrol price is going up again. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency/ANA

Published Dec 7, 2022


Johannesburg – The fuel price is up by 59 cents a litre and if your business owns a fleet of vehicles or you use your car to conduct business, then you will certainly be aware of the significant difference it will make to your profit margins.

Fuel accounts for a large number of any business’s expenses, and any increases have an instantaneous impact on the bottom line of any business.

While the decrease in the price of diesel of R1.59 a litre in the case of 500ppm and R1.52 for 50ppm will come as a welcome relief for other motorists. The increase in 95 and 93 grade fuel will have a significant impact on small businesses.

This, coupled with the recent decision by the South African Reserve Bank’s (Sarb) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to increase the repo rate by 75 basis points, taking it from 6.25% to 7% is a further blow to business and consumers. SMEs will feel some pressure, and this will affect profitability.

— SA Reserve Bank (@SAReserveBank) November 24, 2022

The increase in the price of fuel might compel consumers to reconsider their use of fuel and find ways to save as much as possible.

There are many tactics that motorists employ that they believe could help them save money and ensure more kilometres out of a litre of fuel, but some of these “life hacks” may not be cost-effective and could cause more damage in the long term.

The CEF highlights and busts some long-standing myths about how consumers can get the most out of their fuel.

Myth: Getting more value for your money by filling up in the morning

This myth is based on the assumption that fuel is much denser in the morning when temperatures are often cooler. This stems from the scientific fact that liquids are less dense in warm temperatures.

However, petrol tanks are stored underground at filling stations and are well-insulated which means that they maintain the same temperature throughout the day. As a result, filling up a vehicle when the weather is cooler will not help motorists save money.

Myth: Shifting your car to neutral at stops and when driving downhill

Cars that are manufactured in this day and age, have a fuel injection system which can detect that the engine is idle. Once the system detects this, the fuel injectors switch off and petrol is not injected into the engine. Shifting your car to neutral in an attempt to save fuel will fast-track the corrosion of the gear’s shift components.

Myth: A manual saves more fuel than an automatic

Modern vehicles are technologically advanced and modern automatic transmissions are as fuel efficient as manual vehicles.

Myth: Cleaning the air filter

Modern vehicles are designed to distribute the accurate fuel and air mixture whether the air filter is cleaned or not. Older vehicles would be easily affected by a dirty air filter; but modern vehicles have the correct mechanisms to regulate the air-to-fuel mixture. While it does not influence fuel consumption, keep the vehicle’s air filter clean as a dirty filter can limit airflow to the air-conditioner.

Myth: Using cruise control always saves fuel

The cruise control feature is good to use on an open road and flat terrain, as it allows the vehicle to maintain a certain speed. But using cruise control on a road with different terrains may prompt motorists to suddenly accelerate, which uses up more fuel.

Myth: Fuel additives are guaranteed to help you save fuel

Fuel additives are meant to increase a vehicle’s octane rating and help to decrease the corrosion rate. The additives that are used for vehicles include antioxidants, ethers, alcohols, detergents and antiknock agents. Fuel additives are more resourceful for older vehicles in terms of preventing corrosion and helping clean the fuel system. But these added chemicals don’t help motorists to decrease fuel consumption.

Myth: An almost full fuel tank prevents fuel evaporation

Modern-day vehicles have vapour-reduction mechanisms which prevent evaporation. A vehicle’s evaporation-control emissions system prevents fuel vapours from being released into the atmosphere.

Myth: Shaking your car when filling up does not get you more fuel

Motorists often shake their cars when filling up at petrol stations. The theory behind this is that shaking the car allows you to fill up the tank as much as possible. Overfilling your car can cause extensive damage to the vehicle. You even risk damaging the car’s evaporation emissions control system.

[email protected]

IOL Business