Few days ago on the 1st of October, the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs announced that prices for RON95 petrol and diesel will be increased by RM0.20 per liter. The new pricing will take effect on the 2nd of October at 12am, to become RM2.30 for a liter of RON95 petrol and RM2.20 for a liter of diesel.
How did Malaysians responded? Flocking to petrol stations in droves on the night before, eager to fill up their cars before 12am, willing to get stuck in long queues after a tiring workday just to save a few extra ringgit on a full tank.
Is all this fuss worth it? The trip to the pumps alone consumes fuel, not to mention the long idle times spent waiting in line. Will it not be wiser and more economical to practice fuel-saving driving habits on a daily basis? Here are 6 better ways to cut your petrol bills.
1. Anticipate traffic
I was initially going to say “accelerate/decelerate smoothly”, but we all already know about that. More importantly is how to achieve doing it. Anticipation in traffic is perhaps one of the single most important factor to save fuel.
Keep your distance, be alert and look far ahead into traffic, so you can always be prepared what to do next to avoid sudden brakes and unnecessary acceleration.
When coming into a red light, lift your foot off the gas pedal and let your vehicle glide towards the junction. You are going to break soon anyway, there is no point having the accelerator down all the way until the traffic light.
When an incline is approaching, speed up a little to build momentum so the climbing effort will be easier.
2. Plan your journey
The first few kilometers after a cold start uses slightly more fuel. Plan several short trips into one big journey to have the engine perform more efficiently.
Another thing to consider when planning is rush hours. If possible, do not make the trip when you know you will spend most of your time stuck in jams.
3. Service & maintenance
A well maintained car will run more efficiently. Always keep your car’s engine in tip-top condition. Follow your service manual and send your car to the workshop on time.
That’s not all, you will still have to check the tire pressure on your own, because most workshops do not do that for you during scheduled maintenance. An under inflation of only 1 psi will reduce fuel economy by 3%. You can usually find a label with the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure on the driver’s door panel.
4. Cut the pounds
Remove unnecessary items from your car. More fuel is needed to carry around that extra weight. You do not need to keep your gym bag or recycle items in your boot. Take them with you only when you need it.
5. Turn off the engine
Too many drivers are guilty of this, especially in front of schools and shopping malls. If you know you will be waiting for someone for a while, turn of the engine. A stationary car with the engine running will give you 0 km for every liters of fuel burned.
If the wait gets too long, just park and get down from the car.
6. Drive less often
The best way to save fuel is to not drive at all. Band up with your colleagues or classmates to car pool in your daily commute. If you go out during lunch breaks, share transport. For shorter trips, you might even consider walking or biking.
Remember that fuel-saving is a long term commitment, an active decision we have to make every day. Queueing and fighting with the crowd at petrol stations before a price hike is not a smart way to do it.