While gas prices have fallen globally, paying for gas can still put a dent in your weekly budget. Especially in cities like Dar es Salaam, where the traffic is terrible, leaving you on the road for hours. And not everyone is up to taking public transport – bodabodas (motor bikes) and bajajis ( 3 motorcycle) can be reckless on the road. And daladalas (public buses) also get stuck in the same traffic jam but with less comfort. While the recently developed fast trains ‘gari za mwendo kasi’ are a solution, they are not accessible to everyone.
Luckily, there are other ways to cut gas costs and save money.
1. Driving quickly is expensive
Drivers in Tanzania have a love for speeding up and overtaking, even when it’s not necessary. The thing is, speeding, and rapid braking is the quickest ways to waste gas. So, a basic principle you should follow is ‘every time you hit the accelerator to speed up, it better be worth it as the harder you press, the more fuel you spend’.
The best way to drive and save fuel is to speed up slowly. If you press harder on the pedal, more fuel will flow, but you can reach the same speed using much less power. Moreover, the faster you are driving the harder you will have to break, once again, wasting fuel.
2. Turn your car on only when in use
Whether it’s waiting in a parking lot for a friend or at a chipsi kuku (roadside fries & chicken) spot for their food, drivers in Tanzania like to keep their car on even when they don’t need to.
It’s simple, if you’re parked and waiting, turn the engine off. Just because your car isn’t moving doesn’t mean your gas isn’t being consumed.
Moreover, according to Money Saving Expert, when you do start your car, drive slowly for 30 seconds to give your engine time to warm up faster, and not consume as much fuel.
3. Turn off the air conditioner
Now this is a tough one. Yes, it’s incredibly hot most of the time in many Tanzanian cities, especially the coastal ones. But running the air conditioning can consume up a lot your car’s fuel. In fact, a study by the U.S Department of Energy found that A/C can use 25% of your car fuel, now imagine how much more it uses in Tanzania (where the weather is almost always hot).
So, make it a habit to start your driving trip with the windows down, and then when you can’t handle the heat anymore or are at really high speeds turn on your A/C.
4. Get your tire pressure checked
As mentioned in our car maintenance tips, making sure that your tires are the right pressure will reduce the drag of your car on the road, and thus you’ll use less fuel. Having high drag means your car feels heavier and requires more acceleration to speed up. So check your car manual for information on the right tire pressure for your vehicle, and get it checked and inflated every month.
5. Keep it light
Many of us transform our cars into our second homes and put everything from extra pair of shoes to our exercise equipment in the back seat or the boot. The thing is, the lighter your car is, the less effort it needs to accelerate. So make sure to clear out all objects that you don’t need or use frequently. Moreover, it’s just good to keep a clean car anyway.
6. Go easy on the fuel
Some believe that it is cost effective to buy a lot of fuel at one go, than to add a little fuel multiple times a week. While we don’t recommend relying on a little fuel every day (we’ve seen too many cars run out of fuel on the road, kilometers away from gas stations), the problem with filling your tank with fuel is that it’s heavy. To drive more efficiently, keep your tank halfway filled – unless of course, you have a long trip.
Bonus Tip: Owning a fuel efficient car to begin with will help you cut fuel costs even further. Plus, they also tend to be some of the most affordable vehicles in the market.
Every little TZS counts
The costs of a car do not end once you purchase it, therefore, it’s always beneficial to save money wherever you can. And while you can drive a car without a window, or even with a faulty battery, there is no way to operate a vehicle without fuel (unless it’s a Tesla). It’s a never-ending requirement of owning a car, and while you may feel like saving TZS 100 by putting less fuel is too little, this will add up over the years, and you may end up saving TZS 100,000. So, hopefully these tips made this very consistent expense of owning a car a little cheaper.