It’s been coming for a while, and now, it’s finally here.
On 2 September 2013, fuel prices in Malaysia rose considerably due to the reduction in subsidies by the Malaysian Government. As a result, both RON95 petrol and diesel now cost 20 sen more for every litre – which is an approximate 10% jump compared to the previous prices.
Whilst there’s no faulting the Government’s intention (which is to strengthen the nation’s fiscal deficit position by reducing fuel subsidies), there is no doubt that the price hike would affect the lives of Malaysians. For those who drive a long way to work or live on shoestring budget, that additional hundreds of Ringgit to fork out on fuel every month could even lead to drastic changes in lifestyle.
Nonetheless, the new fuel price is now a reality; and if this is affecting you in a big way, you will need to react accordingly to help ease the increased financial burden of owning and driving a car. Obviously, spending money to keep your car in tip-top condition and buying a more fuel-efficient car are some of the things you could do. But not everyone has the funds to do so over the short term.
In this article, we’ll explore some viable methods the Malaysian public can adopt to combat the recent price hike on fuel, without spending additional cash from your wallets:
1) Drive less aggressively
Everyone knows that aggressive driving (such as rapid acceleration and braking) uses more fuel, but what you may not know is that it could decrease your fuel efficiency by a whopping 33%! According to the US Department of Energy, aggressive driving at highway and in town reduces your gas mileage by 33% and 5% respectively. To put it in Malaysian context, you’ll be burning off RM24 for every 35-liter tank of RON95 petrol simply by driving with too much aggression on the North-South Highway!
What to do : Drive safer
Your Potential Saving : Up to 33%
2) Keep your vehicle within the speed limit
Most people have the perception that the faster you drive, the more you save. Whilst it is true to a certain extent, driving beyond the speed for optimal fuel economy (which varies from car to car) would result in the rapid loss of gas mileage. By constantly working your car beyond its optimum capacity, you also risk causing engine damages that will come back to haunt you financially in the future.
What to do : Observe Optimum Speed Limit of Your Car
Your Potential Saving : Between 7 – 14%
3) Remove excessive weight from your car
Do you have a habit of keeping stuff in your car trunk? If you do, it might be time to start thinking about removing the heavier objects, such as your golf clubs or that baby stroller that’s been sitting there since your teenager was still a toddler. Based on official sources, every 100 pound (approximately 45 kilogram) reduces your fuel economy by about 2%. And guess what, the smaller the car model you own (which instantly relate to most Malaysians), the more that excessive weight is going to cost you!
What to do : Remove Junks from Your Car
Your Potential Saving : 2% for every 45 kilograms of excessive weight
4) Maintain the tires at the right pressure
When was the last time you check your tire pressure? Last month? Last year? Never? According to the experts, you will lose 0.3% in fuel economy for every 1 PSI (i.e. the measurement unit for tire pressure) drop on the four tires of your car. Meantime, you will gain a lot more risks on the road simply by driving on improperly inflated tires. So for the sake of fuel economy and your own safety, check your tires!
What to do : Maintain Your Tires at Optimum Pressure
Your Potential Saving : 3% for every 10 PSI
5) Don’t idle
Many Malaysian drivers have the habit of waiting in their cars with the engines switched on. From a fuel economy perspective, that is a serious No-No because fuel is constantly being burned when the engine is running (even though the car is not moving). According to the Consumer Energy Centre of the U.S.A., you actually lose one mile (approximately 1.6 kilometre) worth of fuel for every two minutes you idle in your car. Additionally, excessive idling actually causes damage to your car engine components due to the build-up of fuel residues in the cylinders. As a general rule: if you’re going to idle in your car for more than 10 seconds, turn the engine off!
What to do : Do Not Idle in Your Car with the Engine Switched On
Your Potential Saving : 1.6 km worth of fuel for every 2 minutes you idle
6) Make full use of the privileges on your credit cards
If you’re old enough to drive, you probably own a credit card. And if you happen to be using certain credit cards that give you cash-back rewards on petrol (eg. Shell Citibank Gold Card gives you 8% rebate on Shell fuel, OCBC Titanium Card gives you 5% cash-back with major fuel brands etc.), it may be time to start taking advantage of these cards more consciously. In Malaysia, many people actually use their credit cards without being fully aware of the discounts and privileges they are entitled to. To find out if your card gives you any rebates on fuel, check out this handy online comparison table. If you’re still using a generic credit card with no relatable rewards, it might be time to switch to a new one.
What to do : Take Advantage of Cash Rebate Privilege on Your Credit Card
Your Potential Saving : Up to 8%
Of course, the best advice of all is probably still this: start walking more and driving less. On behalf of all Malaysians: here’s hoping we won’t be faced with additional price hikes any time soon!