Frugal Foo

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Fuel for thought: Reducing Petrol Expenses

Petrol pump
With the constant hike in prices of petroleum products in the recent years, families have been in the strain to keep family cars running. Four families have resorted to four different measures to counter and cut down the cost of fueling a car that makes up 2.6 percent of the weekly income.

Downsizing to Hatchbacks

The Kings have kept their old family car, the Ford Falcon for almost seven years however it has been costing them to keep it fueled. However when they opted to cut back, they bought not one but two Suzuki vehicles: the spacious Swift and the compact Alto.

Gavin King, 48, explains how having two cars were beneficial to the family, ‘Our Falcon’s tank held 65 litres of petrol but both our Suzukis hold about 77 litres. We cover twice the mileage from just about the same cost of fueling just one car.’ Although on a side note, having a second car would cost the Kings additional on registration and maintenance, and in the long run may counter any advantage on fuel consumption.

Gavin’s wife, Helen, 45, adds that with two cars, driving their children to their respective schools have become more convenient. ‘Gavin takes our daughter, Jenna, to primary school and I take our teenager, Jeremy, to his school which is up on my way to work. My husband and I both save time and only need to fill them every two weeks,’ she says.

‘The Alto is trimmer, and could squeeze into small parking lot spaces. Though personally, I like driving the Swift. I think my husband and I both do,’ she says as an afterthought, and then laughingly added, ‘he knows I need to go out earlier so he intentionally leaves the Swift at the back so I can take the Alto parked in front!’

Switching to Hybrids

‘We got our first hybrid car three years ago after my wife gave birth to our son, Jacob,’ says Nathan Simmons, 42. ‘We wanted something that was environmentally friendly and at the same time fuel-efficient. Hybrids had mixed reviews then but I was willing to give it a go and the Toyota Prius was a pretty good deal to me.’

Elaine, Nathan’s wife, recounts the first time they used the car. ‘When we travel with Jacob, we make it a point to keep the radio off so he won’t be disturbed while he’s napping and we can attest just how quiet the Prius runs on electric,’ Elaine says.

‘We used to own a Falcon running on LPG and found out that LPG wasn’t really cost efficient. It’s cheaper than petrol, yes, but it easily burned up. With the Prius, I fill up once in every 3-4 weeks, that’s on a 60-kilometer daily trip from home to school and back. ’

‘For me, the Prius has a creative design and its space is just right for our family. Hybrid cars are the future in car development. I’d love to have a car that won’t have to run on petrol!’ Elaine exclaims.

LPG as an Alternative to Petrol

The Wilsons have been traveling around South Australia for more than ten months now on a first generation BMW X5.

James, 67, wasn’t too happy with fuel costs when he first set out his long road trip with his wife Francine. ‘My wife and I did a lot of traveling from Melbourne to Adelaide back and forth, and even planned to go to Alice Springs at that time,’ he said, ‘but I had to pay $120 and some change to run the car on petrol, and it was simply too costly.’

‘So what I did was to have the car converted into a dual fuel system and added LPG. We still use petrol but not as much as we used to and only when we need to use it.’ Compared to a petrol-only fueled car, the Wilsons saved half as much on LPG on costs while covering the same distance of travel between the two cities.

‘It’s the other way around, really. We run the car on LPG most of the time now and only rely on petrol as the alternative if we ran low on LPG,’ he states.

Using Diesel

‘I was unconvinced about diesel,’ says Tom Raff. ‘ My wife used to drive an old HiLux on diesel and the thing coughed up smoke and was irritatingly noisy!’

‘So when we needed to get a new car, I was reluctant to pick the Hyundai i30w wagon. Even though the hatch was a size down from their former Magna wagon, the i30w was still roomy. It had enough leg room and luggage space at the back. But the one thing I needed to check was the car’s running performance. I wanted to be sure we were making the right choice with a diesel-fueled car.’

‘I was a bit surprised,’ Tom reveals. The turbo diesel engine ran rather quietly, quite the opposite than what he had expected and the driving experience was much smoother without the grey smoke.

‘Right now, my wife uses it more than I do so I can’t really say if it’s fuel efficiency is what it claims to be. We ran it on a full tank of diesel to Rainbow Beach once and that’s about 600 kilometers going there and coming back to Brisbane. There’s still about a quarter of a tank left in it. I hope that we can see the advantages on its fuel efficiency in the long run,’ he added.

About the Author

This article brought to you by Frugal Foo in conjunction with Carsguide Australia. To keep up to date with the latest motoring news, car buyer guides and car reviews online visit Carsguide.

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