Hopefully without border blockades there’ll be plenty of opportunities to explore Australia’s big backyard in new – or old – machines.
If there was one thing that come out of 2020 it was a new-found – in some cases renewed –appreciation for the pleasures of a driving holiday and the wonders of this part of the world: Alice rather than Aspen.
It’s not all about caravanning. With a tent and a bit of a plan it’s easy and cost-efficient to drive from north to south, east to west staying at a mix of camps, motels and caravan park cabins.
The common factor here in 2021 – whether driving around town or across the country – is driving efficiencies: keeping motoring costs under control.
For instance, while today’s fuel and emission savings are controlled largely by swags of sensors and computer chips there are still ways to save on fuel.
Most are obvious enough, but time-poor drivers often forget, or forgo, some basics.
A regular service, as per the manufacturer’s handbook schedule, is one. A clean car and driving habits also play their part.
The first step to saving some fuel is cleaning up and de-cluttering the car, inside and out.
Do we need two umbrellas and a dozen shopping bags in the boot at all times? Is that roof rack needed outside of holiday trips?
A tidy up, a good clean-out and vacuuming, can unload unwanted kilograms with the benefit of making the interior more welcoming.
Keep the exterior, in particular the glass, clean; the body doesn’t need to be spotless but it makes it easier to spot any issues.
Lighter cars run better, happier drivers steer better, and that should make for fuel savings.
Driving habits make some of the more noticeable differences to fuel economy.
Imagine a carton of eggs sitting atop the accelerator and treat that pedal with great respect.
Smooth and steady acceleration – and deceleration – is best. This doesn’t mean driving slowly. It’s better to get the vehicle rolling at the speed limit with authority, and into its best fuel-sipping gears with lower revs.
Read the traffic ahead, avoid sudden stops. Keep off the brake pedal as much as possible. How often do brake lights flash ahead when people baulk at slight turns?
Try taking the foot off the accelerator a tad to help slow the car rather than forever brushing the brake.
Less heavy, and less timid, acceleration plus less braking will save fuel.
Some argue tyres should be pumped beyond a manufacturer’s recommended pressures. The idea is that it lessens the rolling resistance and means less work for engine and drivetrain.
This could be a false economy for over-inflation can lead to irregular tyre wear and a need for new rubber which may offset economy gains.
The right size of tyre, with correct pressure and tread pattern, is important for efficiencies, as are balanced wheels and correct front end alignment.
Service on time
While there are fewer components in engine bays today, there are elements which need to be in good order for best fuel economy.
Fuel, air and oil filters, engine and transmission fluids should be checked on a regular basis, as set out in maintenance guides.
Belts, hoses and all fluid levels need to be in top condition. Air conditioning should be running in peak condition.
Some of these can be checked by the home mechanic and it’s a good idea to look under the bonnet from time to time.
For premium results, have the vehicle serviced, on time, by an expert.
Any element that’s not in good shape, from driver attitude to tyre pressure, and anything compromising engine efficiency, will affect fuel economy.