A bit of foresight can help your wallet

In the lead-up to Christmas, people tend to use their cars more as they do their Christmas shopping or head off on holiday. As petrol prices hover around the $2 a litre mark, it is worth knowing ways to keep fuel consumption in check. Here are 10 ways you can do that.

1. Plan your trip

Whether heading into town or another part of the country, plan your journey. Take direct routes and avoid times you know traffic will be heavy.

2. Lose weight


Having a car's boot or interior packed with unnecessary gear means the engine has to work harder to move the car around. Remove all excess weight.

3. Windows up

Drive with your window down at motorway speeds and you are throwing money away. It is said your average fuel bill will increase by 30 per cent. So above 80km/h, keep windows up.

4. Remove drag

Cars are more fuel-efficient if they cut cleanly through the air. Remove luggage racks or add-ons you don't need to decrease drag.

5. Short shift

The higher the engine revs, the more fuel you are burning unnecessarily. Whether you are commuting around town or on the motorway, keep revs as low as possible.

6. Smooth Operator

Don't be one of those drivers who race away from one set of lights and slam on the anchors when approaching the next. Not only can this give your passengers whiplash, it wastes precious fuel. Using smooth and gentle acceleration and steering is the key.

7. Switch off

If you car does not have a modern stop/start fuel-saving system for heavy traffic situations, then simply switch off your engine. This will be that little bit nicer for your wallet.

8. Wheels and tyres

Ensure tyres have the correct air pressure. It is said 25 per cent loss in tyre pressure means a 2 per cent increase in fuel consumption. It may not sound like much but it gets worse if your wheels are out of alignment. If a car is pulling to the left or right and you counter-steer to prevent this, your engine is working harder, using more fuel.

9. Air con

Use the air-conditioning sparingly as the engine is having to work harder if you leave it on all the time.

10. Engine maintenance

Keep your engine in tip-top condition. Getting a regular service, checking oil, cam belt etc will allow you to detect whether a mechanical problem could be affecting your fuel consumption.