One of the most commonly neglected areas of a vehicle, tyres are also the only connection between you and terra firma.
Your vehicle is likely to be loaded with gear, passengers and even a trailer, so before you check your tyre pressure, have a close look at the tyre placard fitted to your vehicle. There will be a minimum and maximum pressure recommendation depending on the load - the maximum is the one to use. Check your spare, as well!
The correct tyre pressures will reduce rolling resistance and fuel consumption by up to two per cent, and there's another upside - the correct pressures will maximise tyre life.
While you're at it, check the tread depth of your tyres. The minimum legal requirement is 1.5mm across the contact area of the tyre, and there are wear indicators built into the treat to make checking simple. If they are close to the indicators, don't hesitate - it's better to replace them before you go on a trip. You will notice an improvement to your vehicle's on-road dynamics immediately.
Unnecessary luggageSpring-clean the luggage compartment, even if it's not spring! Don't keep heavy gear like golf clubs, your sports kit or tools in your vehicle if you're not using them. Aim to pack light as extra weight increases fuel consumption, particularly in urban areas where you're often accelerating and braking. The NRMA has found that loading a vehicle up to its maximum-rated weight results in fuel consumption increasing by 24% compared with an identical unladen vehicle.
Take off roof racks if they're not required - they add to aerodynamic drag which increases fuel consumption by up to five per cent.
Most new cars have an indicator light to tell you when your next service is due, but it's good to check how close the service is, especially if you're going away for an extended period.
Check the lube sticker, usually affixed to the windscreen by your car servicing dealer, or the service booklet which should be stamped. If in doubt, check the owner's handbook, because the intervals are time and distance based - whatever comes first. Don't forget to have a full health-check done on your car battery, particularly if travelling during the cooler months which places additional stress on your battery. And check your oil too - is it time for an oil change?
Older cars (pre-1986) can go out of tune between services, increasing fuel consumption but even on newer vehicles with electronic engine management, replacing a dirty air filter can increase fuel consumption.
Other fuel saving tips
- Keep your windows closed at high speeds and use the air-con instead. At low speeds, open your windows instead of air conditioning.
- Reduce your speed - by driving 20 km/h slower, you can reduce your fuel consumption by as much as 25%.
- Drive sensibly - avoid harsh braking and quick acceleration and make use of cruise control if you have it.
- Use your Member benefits - as an NRMA Member you can save up to 5 cents per litre on Premium fuels and up to 3 cents per litre on regular fuels every time you fill up at participating Ampol and Caltex service stations. Simply download the my nrma app and show the QR code when you pay to receive your Member discount. Watch out for exclusive savings such as double discounts to save even more.