How To Save Money On Petrol

Mar 22, 2022
Mechanical Breakdown Insurance
By Staff writer

Saving on petrol is crucial amidst the rising prices caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. For several weeks now, New Zealand, among many other countries, have been experiencing drastic price surges from the several sanctions by global powers. As the end of the conflict is unlikely for the next few days or even weeks, this has left Kiwis with no choice but to look for creative ways to save on fuel costs.

Many Kiwis have already put off buying any new automobiles until the global shortage is resolved. Those who can pay a few extra bucks have opted for electric vehicles instead. Some have also been riding public transport to skip high fuel prices, while some have been cutting down on their groceries to have more budget for petrol.

There are plenty of different ways to cut down the high cost of driving your vehicle. 

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Fill your tank at a nearby supermarkets

Whenever you need to fill your tank, go to the nearest supermarket. They have perks and benefits like loyalty cards and discounts, which you can't get at a petrol station. The best part is, this can get you more savings on both your groceries and fuel!

Stick to the speed limit

Avoid driving too fast on a highway as it requires higher fuel consumption. According to the US Department of Transport, driving at 80 mph uses around 25% more fuel than driving at 70 mph. Moreover, driving at 70 mph consumes around 9% more fuel than driving at 60 mph.

Keep up with the maintenance of your car

Make sure your car is always in good driving condition. Air filters can limit intake when clogged, leading to inefficient fuel combustion and increased emissions. Improper tyre inflation can also increase vehicle drag and tread wear uneven, making it difficult to steer your car in the right direction.

See also: How to Reduce Your Fuel Consumption While Driving

However, if there's one thing that you should never do, it's shifting into a lower grade of fuel just to save costs. In the long run, you may end up paying more for the repair and replacing spare parts of your car. Here's why you should never settle for substandard petrol.

What are fuel’s octane ratings in NZ?

There are three primary grades of petrol sold in New Zealand: 91, 95, or 98. This is based on the Research Octane Number and is used to determine this value of the fuel. The numbers measures how much heat and pressure a fuel can withstand before it ignites. The higher the rating, the more energy-efficient and better performing the fuel is.

Different vehicle engines are tuned to work according to these grades. Using the correct fuel type and rating guarantees a sail on the road and longer life for your engine. These can help you avoid a costly mechanical breakdown, car repair, among other expensive costs that come with owning a car.

You can check what type of fuel your car runs on from three main sources:

  • Your owner’s handbook
  • Labels on the vehicle, usually on the fuel flap
  • Contacting the manufacturer or checking their website

Alternate wording: If you’re not familiar with the listed numbers, you can refer to this. 91 typically refers to ‘Standard Unleaded’ petroleum and is the stock standard for many cars. 95 and 98 are usually known as ‘Premium Unleaded’.

Is it okay to use lower-rated petrol than what is listed on my car?

Short answer: yes, but it’s not recommended. While you can do it during emergencies, your car is still better off using the right fuel rating for your vehicle. 

According to a statement by Motor Trade Association principal technical advisor Mark Stockdale, vehicle owners may risk long-term damage if they do this to their engines.

“It may be tempting to use 91 octane to save a few bucks, but it is a false economy. If you use a lower grade than required, it could end up costing far more than any saving in the price of fuel.”

Here are possible problems by using lower-grade petrol:

  • Engine hesitation - Insufficient octane can decrease combustibility.
  • Knocking sound in the engine - The petrol may detonate too early, which can cause a noticeable ‘knocking’ sound. If left unchecked, this can cause major damage to the vehicle later on.
  • Higher emissions - Using the incorrect octane can lead to higher emissions, which can be harmful to the environment.

Stockdale also stated that around 20% of new petrol-based cars sold required at least 95 octane for maximum efficiency.

On the flip side, there is also no tangible benefit to running your engine on fuel where the octane rating is higher than what is specified on your vehicle. Doing so just leads to money wasted later on.