You may have heard that a liter of water currently costs more in Zimbabwe than a liter of Petrol. That is actually very true. The unfortunate part is that fuel is in short supply. What it means is that should you be fortunate enough to stumble upon a Service Station that has this most valuable of commodities, you will want to take steps to make it last as long as is possible. This article is written by someone who is uniquely qualified to dispense this type of advice. I only need 10 dollars every week to drive to and from work, which is rather unbeatable, as far as saving fuel is concerned. So, how do you save fuel in these trying times?
How to save fuel
The following are some of the fuel saving tips that you can use to make sure that the petrol or diesel that you have in your car goes the extra mile;
- Wake up early in order to beat the congestion.
- Put your vehicle in neutral when going downhill.
- Read traffic lights along your route to avoid unnecessary stops
- Be light on the accelerator.
- Turn off your vehicle when stuck in traffic jams.
- Switch off your air conditioner
- Make sure that the cap on your fuel tank is tightly shut.
- Buy a fuel saver
- Get a diesel car
- Use public transport once or twice a week.
- Cut down on those unnecessary trips.
Beat the congestion
With fuel becoming a scarce commodity in Zimbabwe over the past few weeks, waking up early in order to beat the congestion is one of the things that you can do to make sure that you go the extra mile on that liter of Petrol of Diesel. The stops and starts that you make while driving to work are one of the reasons why your fuel does not last you that long.
What I have discovered is that waking up at least 30 minutes earlier enables me to cruise from home to work without being stuck in a jam. When I do this, I only need 12 minutes to get to work, as compared to the 45 minutes that I need when the road is congested. So you can just imagine the fuel savings. Should your bosses be amenable to the idea, you can also save a lot of fuel by leaving your workplace a bit earlier. I know, this is bound to get you a few frowns, but you wont get into as much trouble should you make a habit of getting to work earlier. If you are capable of negotiating, ask to be allowed to start work an hour earlier in exchange for being allowed to trade that hour later in the afternoon when it comes time to leave work.
The neutral gear
Car blogs are always telling people that it is not advisable to turn off a car completely when driving as a way of saving fuel. What you should do, instead, is put your vehicle into the neutral gear. This applies when it comes to both manual and automatic transmission vehicles.
I personally drive a car that has an automatic transmission. Though I don’t actually put the car into neutral when driving, I achieve the same effect by letting go of the accelerator and letting the car coast along when going downhill. You will be surprised at how far you can go while doing this. On my route, there is a stretch, between Coca Cola and the flyover, along Seke Road, on which I can cruise more than 2 kilometers without touching the accelerator. That is all dependent, of course, on whether or not the traffic lights are all in my favor, but this is the next point on this list of fuel saving tips for Zimbabwean drivers.
Traffic lights and avoiding unnecessary stops
One of the things that most people are not aware of is the fact that a vehicle consumes the most fuel when starting from a stationary position. What this means is that you should avoid stopping as much as is possible when driving to work in the morning. That will help you achieve the kind of fuel savings that you are looking for.
The best way of avoiding unnecessary stops involves reading and understanding the traffic lights that lie along your route. On mine, I have a rough understanding of the amount of time that is needed for each robot to change from one color to the other. In order to save fuel, you should learn to let go of the accelerator and allow your car to cruise when approaching a red robot. Most of the time, I never actually come to a complete stop when driving to work. When I see that the traffic lights ahead of me are not in my favor, I let go of the accelerator and allow my car to roll along at a slow speed. Of course, doing this sometimes irritates a few impatient drivers, but really, there is no reason for anyone to drive to a red traffic light at speed, only to come to an abrupt stop. Doing this not only is wasteful on your fuel, but it also causes unnecessary wear on your brakes
Be light on the accelerator
A major reason why people spend so much on fuel is because they press down on their accelerators as if their very lives depend on it! This, however, is hardly justifiable. Alright, it’s justifiable if you have the roving spirit. Otherwise being heavy on the accelerator is just a good way through which you can waste the precious commodity.
Once in a while, I drive to my rural home in Buhera. The one thing that I have noticed is that other than wasting fuel, being heavy on the accelerator does not really have any effect in terms of the time that is taken to get from the Mbudzi tollgate to Chivhu. A major reason for this is that the route is littered with haulage trucks. What it means is that even if you rush along at 160kms per hour, you are bound to get caught up behind one. At the end of the day, we will arrive in Chivhu at more or less the same time, despite the fact that I would be cruising along at 100kms per hour.
Stuck in a Traffic Jam? Switch off your vehicle
This piece of advice becomes particularly useful when you are stuck in a particularly bad traffic jam. Rather than waiting in one spot with your car idling for five minutes, you can save fuel by opening your windows and switching it off.
Switching off the air conditioner
The air conditioner in any car is wonderful, allowing you to stay cool even on the hottest of days. However, you pay a price for that in terms of fuel consumption. Should the conditions be conducive, one of the ways through which you can save fuel is by switching off the aircon in your car. Open all windows, instead and you can take advantage of the natural breeze.
Tighten the cap on your fuel tank
One of the things that I have noticed is that some of the fuel attendants around the country do not tighten the fuel caps on cars. This wastes fuel through evaporation, particularly on hot days. I actually make it a point to tighten the cap myself after every refill. You know that the job is done when you hear a clicking sound when tightening the cap.
Buy a fuel saver
This topic is one on which we have previously talked in another article. The thing to note is that you should acquire a car that you can afford to run. Buying a gas guzzler just because it looks good is going to mean that your vehicle will spend most of its days parked at the garage at home, with you using public transport.
I personally drive a Toyota Corolla bubble, and in the 3 years that I have had it, I have never had to take it to the garage. I also only need $10 per week to get to and from work. Alright, so I live around 8km from my workplace, but the Corolla is still a good car for those that wish to save fuel.
Get a diesel car
In Zimbabwe, diesel is cheaper than petrol, meaning you don’t need that much when it comes to your daily commute. There is also the fact that a liter of diesel will take you around 20% further than a liter of petrol. So, if you really wish to make fuel savings, you should consider getting a diesel car.
Use public transport once in a while
There are people, who we all know, who would appear out of place in a commuter omnibus. They have been driving their SUVs for so long that it’s difficult to picture them in a bus. This is something that I try to avoid. Not that it’s bad or anything, but I always try to make sure that I don’t become too important for public transport.
Doing this is particularly helpful in the times in which we find ourselves. As a way of making that fuel that you have last, consider using public transport a couple of times a week when getting into town.
Cut down on unnecessary trips
Finally, the fuel crisis provides a convenience excuse for those that do not wish to take the Mrs on that trip that may or may not be of particular importance. Seriously, nothing saves fuel better than staying at home and playing with the kids, cats and dogs.