₦145 to a large number of people in Nigeria is small money. In fact, it is a chicken change that anyone should be able to ‘dash’ out without flinching. But, although you are a well-paid and comfortable (some may even say rich) human being, you do not consider the amount insignificant at all. It’s not like you are penny-pinching or cheap… you drive a car that gulps fuel like there is no tomorrow, and with N145 you can have 1 litre extra of petrol (fuel). In fact, there have actually been times you fought with the fuel attendant at the station over your tank missing a few drops of fuels worth less than a litre’s price.
To be honest, it is not easy to own a car in Nigeria. Cost of acquiring one and maintenance expenses aside, the cost of fueling your vehicle alone can be draining. Even worse, you can’t complain about it too much either, so that people do not make such comments as: “You can even afford a car and you are complaining” or “If you knew you could not handle the cost of managing the car, why buy it in the first place?”
The thing is that your fuel problem may not always be as a result of car’s factory setting, or the way the particular model is built. Sometimes you are having to spend so much on fuel as a result of personal practices, such as the way you drive and how well or often you maintain the car. Believe it or not, these things impact on the amount of fuel you use and eventually how much you spend.
Here are some tips that you can apply to help you save money on fuel and free up cash for other things.
The first advice a seasoned Nigerian driver will give you when it comes to saving fuel is: use air conditioning sparingly. But…what if you are an Uber driver or you work with Taxify and you are bound to keep the AC running. Also, what if the weather is such that the AC is a necessity. Sure, there is a truth to the fact that air conditioners can actually use about 10 per cent extra fuel when operating, but people don’t stop to also consider that at speeds of over 80 km/h, use of air conditioning becomes an advantage, and is better for fuel consumption than an open window.. as this creates aerodynamic drag.
Airconditioning matter aside, if you are ready to save fuel on your car, first ask yourself: how often do I plan my trip or “waka”? Believe it or not, a bulk of fuel wasted because you haven’t clearly mapped out your movement – having idle moments and spending too much time on the road. As a driver, you must stay alert. If you are not in motion, perhaps you are waiting for someone or in traffic, turn off your engine, once it is over 30 seconds and wait until you are ready to go.
Most cars these days do not need to be “warmed up” by idling before setting off. By switching off the engine, even for a short period, you will save more fuel than is lost from the burst of fuel involved in restarting the engine. Again, plan your maneuvers ahead of time. Always pay attention to the road in front of you, anticipate the movements other drivers while keeping a safe distance from the car in front of you and avoid traffic when you can.
Avoiding traffic actually is not a tedious as most assume. Once you can avoid rush hours, you pay attention or predict the traffic periods in your area and avoid them, you basically are good. A quick check of traffic news on the radio or google map traffic on your smart phone also might alert you to an accident on the road or traffic jam. Also, leaving 1-2 hours earlier or later can make a huge difference.
For those who run so many errands in a day, you want to try and combine all your errands into one outing rather than making several short trips. If you only have to make short trips, however, you can consider walking or using public transport. Trips of less than five kilometers generally do not allow the engine to reach its peak operating temperature and that is not flattering to fuel economy.
When making trips, remember to lighten the load in your car. Leave heavy items at home when you don’t need them on a trip because the more weight a vehicle carries, the more fuel it uses. You may not know this, but actually, for every 45kg you store in your car, you are lowering the mileage you get per tank by 1-2 per cent. That entire unnecessary load in your booth actually costs you gas money.
Another thing you may want to note is that fuel consumption actually increases significantly over about 90 km/h. At about 120 km/h for instance, your car is probably using about 20 per cent more fuel than it would cruise at 90 km/h. This clearly means that speeding can essentially lead to a higher consumption of fuel. If you must speed though, try and maintain a steady speed. Frequently varying your speed of intermittently slamming on the brakes will even make fuel consumption higher. Slow down and use cruise control on highways to maintain a steadier speed, which will save fuel. And when it comes to putting the “pedal to the metal”, the harder you accelerate, the more fuel is wasted. You should try and take about five seconds to accelerate your vehicle up to 24km per hour from a stop.
Finally, keep your car properly maintained and try your best to follow your vehicle’s maintenance schedule. Do not be penny wise, pound foolish. A poorly maintained car costs more money, and not only fuel money. You want to avoid all these expenses before they happen. Inflate your vehicle’s tires to the recommended pressure and make sure your wheels are properly aligned. Keeping your tires properly inflated will improve handling, and ensure your car operates at its best and most fuel efficient level.
Do you agree with these suggestions and can you think of other helpful tips for drivers looking to save money on fuel?
Photo Credit: Prudencio Alvarez | Dreamstime