Top 10 fuel-wasting habits

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All drivers want their fuel tanks to last as long as possible once they’ve filled up at the petrol station. What many people don’t realise though is that their behaviour while driving is causing them to waste fuel at a rapid pace.

Here are 10 fuel-wasting habits that you should avoid:

Accelerating to red lights

This driving tactic is possibly the most confusing of all fuel-wasting behaviour.  While it’s almost understandable that drivers try to burn rubber in an attempt to swiftly reach their destination, the desire to race to a traffic light when they can clearly see a red amber in the distance is completely nonsensical.  By simply cruising to a stop rather than rushing up, you’ll maintain your breaks and gears and increase your fuel use up to 35%.

Using heating or air conditioning when it’s not necessary 

When its blazing hot or freezing cold, your first instinct when starting up the car is to blast either the heater or air conditioner. Think twice though before you do this; the petrol in your car is quickly guzzled, as both of these elements rely on fuel to work.  One should especially not overuse it on a sunny day, as the natural warmth of the sun will quickly warm up the car, even in chilly conditions.  You should also consider putting the air conditioner on a lower setting, as over a long period, this function will cool you down almost as much as a higher setting.


This one is a bit of a no brainer – the harder your vehicle has to work, the higher amount of petrol it will burn. In fact, studies have suggested that by dropping to a speed of between 105 and 120 kilometres per hour, you can save up to 13% on your fuel consumption.

Driving in the incorrect gear

While your natural driving instinct is to drive in a lower gear in order to generate more power on the road, you should avoid doing so, as it wastes a substantial amount of fuel. When driving a manual vehicle, you should change gears as soon as possible and not accelerate harder than necessary.

If you’re driving a car with automatic transmission, you should ease slightly on the accelerator once the vehicle gains momentum. You should also avoid using power options, which will automatically drop the car into a lower gear and therefore consume more fuel.


There’s no need to “warm” your car up by starting it up and letting it idle before you set off, as this is a major fuel wasting act. Make sure that you only start your car once you are ready to go and minimise further fuel wastage by switching the engine off for a period when you’re stuck in heavy traffic. By simply turning the engine off during this time, you will save more fuel than is lost when you restart your engine.

Using the clutch and accelerator unnecessarily

If you drive a manual car and you’re stuck in a traffic jam or stationary at a traffic light, you should rather put up your handbrake and engage to neutral gear. Riding the clutch and accelerator in this instance is completely unnecessary and a major contributing factor to fuel wastage.

Not taking care of your tyres

Driving with deflated or misaligned tyres means that your car has to work harder and therefore burns more petrol. Align your tyres every 6 months and make sure that your consistently check the pressure of your tyres and inflate them according to the highest-pressure level that is recommended by manufacturers. Maintaining your tyres will not only reduce fuel consumption but also extend the life of your tyres and improve their performance on the road.

Overloading your vehicle

The more weight you load onto your vehicle, the harder your car has to work, and the more fuel it will gulp up.  Try travel light and don’t bring with heavy items on long trips such as sports equipment and tools.

Not maintaining your vehicle

It goes without saying that maintaining your vehicle is a key factor in ensuring that fuel is not unnecessarily expended. As such, it is critical that you regularly service your car as specified in the manufacturer’s handbook. It’s also important to only use petrol that is recommended by the manufacturer, as not doing so can result in a lesser performance and fractionally higher fuel consumption.

Not planning routes properly

Even though we live in the age of refined technology, some drivers will still not properly utilise the technological tools at their disposal such as GPS. This results in many drivers either not planning the most fuel-efficient route or getting lost and wasting fuel driving around aimlessly. You should always take care to plan out your route, and ensure that you avoid high-traffic areas.

So now that you know what you’ve been doing wrong, start behaving in the right way on the road and maximise fuel efficiency!

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