Cost of living crisis: How to save petrol

With the pain at the petrol pump about to get worse, a mechanic says there are a few simple tricks drivers can do to save fuel. 

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent ban on oil from there by the United States, along with a weaker NZ dollar and general refining costs rising means there has been a sharp increase in petrol prices in New Zealand. 

Many Auckland petrol stations are now charging over $3 a litre for 91 and the pain at the pump is being acutely felt. 

The increases look set to continue with Hamilton-based fuel supplier Waitomo Group warning on Friday petrol is about to get more expensive. 

"Today, we've been advised by our supplier that prices are increasing, with the biggest single jump in our wholesale price seen in my time," managing director Jimmy Ormsby said. 

"Get in now, fill up as much as you can. We will supply as much as we can at the lower price until 6pm, but from then on, prices will start climbing, reflecting the unprecedented price increase we've received."

But there are a few easy ways you can save petrol, Parnell Motors mechanic Syd Sills told AM on Friday morning. 

First up - and a tip many Auckland drivers should pay attention to - don't drive too close to the car in front of you. 

"Ideally if you are on the highway try and keep a safe distance from other people, that way you are not having to brake and then speed up. Just keep a gradual speed the whole time," Sills told AM

"A lot of people get right up close behind someone then that person brakes and they have to brake and you are constantly speeding up and slowing down. This uses up more fuel.

Another tip is to keep your tyres properly inflated. According to the Z Energy website, the average driver can cut 10 percent off their annual fuel bill by keeping their tyres pumped up. 

"Tyre pressure is a massive one, I advise my customers at every fourth or fifth stop at the petrol station to check the oil, the coolant and top your tyre pressure up. 

"You will get a lot more fuel-saving doing that," Sills said. 

Sills also advised drivers to make sure their petrol cap is screwed on tightly as fuel can evaporate if not. 

He also told AM to take any items you don't need out of your car to lessen its weight. 

"Unnecessary items in the car is another, people are constantly driving around with a whole lot of items in their car they don't need. 

"What that does is weigh the vehicle down a little bit more. You could be carrying around the equivalent of another passenger or two." 

Air conditioning, while a necessity in a Kiwi summer, is another hidden fuel trap. Having the cold air blasting uses up petrol and so opening the window may be a cheaper option. 

Not all the time though. 

"On the motorway you are better off keeping your windows up because it causes drag so use the air-con sparingly," Sills said.