To top

How to offset fuel price hikes

The price of fuel is weighing heavily on the minds and hearts of South Africans In the year ending December 2021, consumers faced a staggering 40.4% pricing increase.

18 April 2022 · Marlize De Villiers

How to offset fuel price hikes

The price of fuel weighs heavily on the minds and hearts of South Africans, and little wonder. In the year ending December 2021, consumers faced a staggering 40.4% pricing increase. In July, the fuel price reached R25 per litre for the first time ever.

The latest inflation rate of 7.8% reported by StatsSA is the highest it has been in 13 years. Consumers are desperately looking for creative ways to curb their travel costs and limit the burden on their already-strained budgets.

Limit your kilometres

Habits can be hard to break, and sometimes it takes a predicament to reset the status quo. Before you grab your car keys, ask yourself whether you could:

  • Car-pool, and share the school commute with another family,
  • Negotiate a work-from-home, or hybrid working agreement, with your employer, and/or
  • Combine your errands into a single trip.

Driving your car less will shrink your carbon footprint, adding a feel-good motivation to your budgeting.

Plan your shopping

Most retailers have reliable and efficient online shopping available, with free or cost-effective delivery options. Apart from the time and fuel you’ll save, you may well reduce your monthly grocery bill, as impulse buys are likely to be reduced.

Find a petrol partner

There are numerous fuel reward programmes on offer, varying in complexity and benefits. Choose one or two of these programmes to earn loyalty points when you fill your tank, rather than going to the nearest fuel station when the fuel light starts to flash. The points or cash back earned can be used to cover other expenses, such as groceries or medicine.

The best car for the job

Swapping your current vehicle for a more economical option might benefit you substantially in the long term. Motoring journalist Juliet McGuire warns that the fuel consumption claimed by car manufacturers is not always accurate. 

“In real-world driving, it will almost always be higher,” she says. “Generally, the smaller the engine and lighter the car, the lower the fuel consumption will be. Automatics tend to use more fuel.”

Hybrid vehicles are still more expensive, but can save money in the long run.

“Electric vehicles are obviously where you want to be looking if you want to avoid fuel stations altogether,” says McGuire.

Some myths debunked

Kriben Reddy, vice president of Auto Information Solutions at TransUnion Africa, notes that popular fuel-saving theories, such as avoiding air conditioning, are not always entirely accurate. While air conditioning does use additional energy, the alternative is keeping the car window open, which compromises safety and causes more drag when you travel faster than 80km/h.

“Modern aircon systems have very little impact on your fuel consumption. It is better to focus on safety and comfort,” Reddy says.

Buying fuel early in the morning to capitalise on liquids being denser at lower temperatures, putting your car in neutral to coast downhill, and using additives that promise incredible fuel savings are other tactics declared invalid by Reddy.

Some TLC for your car will pay off

A well-maintained car will use fuel more efficiently. Have your car serviced regularly in adherence with the owners’ manual, keep the tyres properly inflated, fix problems as soon as you notice them, and replace clogged air filters.

Reduce the resistance

Modern vehicles are designed to be as aerodynamic as possible. However, open windows, loaded roof racks, and unnecessary luggage can affect the fuel efficiency of your vehicle.

Steady wins the race

McGuire says that the way we drive can make all the difference to our fuel consumption. “Drive mindfully,” she suggests.

Reddy agrees that the best way to save fuel is by adopting better driving habits. He challenges motorists to drive as if they have a cup of coffee on their dashboard.

“That means no sudden acceleration or sharp braking, driving at steady speeds and avoiding high speeds on the highway,” he says. The resulting savings on tyres and maintenance will be a bonus.

Make good money choices - join 250,000 South Africans who get our free weekly newsletter! Join the community →
JustMoney logo  
5th Floor, 11 Adderley Street, Cape Town, 8001

© Copyright 2009 - 2024 
Terms & Conditions  ·  Privacy Policy

Quick links

Your credit score is ready!

View your total debt balance and accounts, get a free debt assessment, apply for a personal loan, and receive unlimited access to a coach – all for FREE with JustMoney.

Show me!