The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - REG­GIE NAIDOO

WHEN the fuel price shoots back up by R2 a litre next on April 1 next week, peo­ple will start wor­ry­ing how to drive with a light right foot. Be­low are the tried and tested tricks of the trade top truck­ers use to save diesel.

1. Be pa­tient

The first rule to save fuel is to re­main pa­tient UN­TIL you get there.

Driv­ing to save fuel means driv­ing slowly, which for most peo­ple be­comes very bor­ing very quickly.

To pre­vent bore­dom from mak­ing your right an­kle fall flat, ei­ther start think­ing long and slow thoughts, or if you are not the me­di­dat­ing type, down­load au­dio books and lis­ten to th­ese. Such is the power of a good book, of­ten times peo­ple will re­main sit­ting in their cars to hear the end.

2. It all av­er­ages out

Driv­ing slowly of course means not start­ing late, so plan your life to leave in time. But even if you left it too late, don’t rush. Your av­er­age speed in town will rarely go over 41 km/h — and that is on a good day. Stick to this speed be­tween traf­fic lights and you will burn a lot less fuel, plus save on wear and tear.

3. See the in­vis­i­ble

Wind is your big­gest en­emy when try­ing to burn less fuel.

The wind re­sis­tance rises ex­po­nen­tially the faster you go. At 120 km/h you car has to push its way through an in­vis­i­ble wall that is about the same con­sis­tency as wet ce­ment. Keep at the av­er­age speed for best re­sults (See trick 2).

4. Bad driv­ers brake

Bad driv­ers brake, good driv­ers reg­u­late. Truck­ers are rated on how many times they touch their brakes and can lose their jobs if the red lights show too of­ten, for each flash of lights means they have just wasted all the diesel they burnt in or­der to drive that lit­tle bit too fast. (And with trucks of­ten get­ting one kilo­me­tre out of a litre, this quickly makes a big dif­fer­ence.)

Learn to look far ahead so that you can change down to cruise at the same speed over any speed hump or around any cor­ner.

5. Throw your weight around

Check your car’s hand­book to see at which rev­o­lu­tions your car’s en­gine make the most New­ton me­tres.

Then switch off the speed con­trol and fo­cus on us­ing your right foot to keep your rev nee­dle hov­er­ing around the low­est pos­si­ble revs. To do this with­out los­ing speed, you will have to use the ve­hi­cle’s mo­men­tum.

Let it gain a bit of speed down­hill so that the ve­hi­cle’s weight will push it partly up­hill. Don’t put your car in neu­tral when go­ing down­hill. Idling uses more fuel in a fuel-in­jected en­gine that rid­ing against com­pres­sion.


Get­ting 15,6 km/l from a su­per­charged V6 Audi A8 on a re­turn jour­ney be­tween Dur­ban and Jo­han­nes­burg shows what can be achieved by ap­ply­ing the five steps be­low.

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