Tuesday, April 17, 2012

On the back of the latest staggering fuel price hike of up to 71 cents per litre, and with little hope of decreases in the foreseeable future, Budget Insurance Brokers says motorists must think out of the box.

“The latest petrol price increase is a major blow to all South Africans. Not only does it impact on car-owners who already have to pay extortionate amounts to fuel their vehicles, but it will certainly also weigh heavily on the economy as a whole as prices of consumer goods and food will also increase.

“With inflation and energy costs rising in tandem to fuel, people are going to be stretched to their financial limits and will have less disposable income to spend on goods and services.

“Surviving this latest petrol crunch and the associated pressures means making significant behavioural and budgeting changes,” says Thomas Creamer, Telesure MD.

In the past decade, the petrol price has burgeoned at an average of 11% per year. Where a litre of petrol in Gauteng would have cost R3.77 per litre in 2001, a litre now costs a whopping R11.94. Analysts suggest that if the trend continues, petrol could cost R20 a litre in five years time. For average South Africans, and those already living on a tight budget, this would be unsustainable.

While calls to Government to change the way the petrol price is calculated have been made, which could result in a lowering of the price, South Africans can only in the meantime brace themselves – and use less petrol.

“Joining a lift club is the most immediate and effective way to cut fuel consumption and costs. By commuting to work just one person you could cut your monthly fuel costs by half, while saving wear and tear on your car.

“You could also use public transit services like Metrorail, buses and the Gautrain if it is convenient for you,” says Creamer.

Creamer adds that fuel consumption can be reduced with conscientious driving.

“Plan your routes so that you can take the shortest route to where you are going and avoid unnecessary travelling. Also, combine as many errands and purposes into one trip as you can rather than taking out your car to run single errands.

“You can also modify your driving technique to make each litre of petrol go further. We impose unnecessary extra costs on ourselves with bad planning, maintenance and driving habits,” says Creamer.

Thomas Creamer concludes with these fuel-saving tips from the Department of Minerals and Energy:

  • Close your car windows when driving. An open window creates drag that increases petrol consumption by as much as 20%.
  • Use multi- grade oil in your car’s engine.
  • Service your car regularly.
  • Make sure your car’s tyres are correctly inflated because tyre pressure that is too low not only increases consumption, but also remarkably reduces tyre life.
  • Make sure the car’s wheels are properly aligned.
  • Avoid stop start driving.
  • Accelerate slowly.
  • Don’t “warm up” your car’s engine by letting the car idle.
  • Don’t speed. The faster you drive, the more petrol your car guzzles.
  • Switch on the air conditioner only when necessary.
  • Don’t carry unnecessary weight in your car.
  • Don’t ‘ride’ the brake or clutch pedal.
  • Avoid fast accelerations.

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