XV – It’s a Gas

On my way driving to work, I pass by several gas stations. Obviously, the price of gas and my car’s mileage are always in my mind. Recently, the price if gas locally in southern Utah is right at $3.00/gallon—okay, $2.999, but what’s that tenth of a cent? Anyway, American cars’ mileage isn’t the greatest. Like my Toyota Sienna—20-22 mpg on a good day. We always want to improve fuel economy, right? Some ways are obvious and make sense. Others? Foolish, dumb or even downright dangerous. I’ve looked up some of these ways to wring more mileage out of your tank. Here’s some of the ones I’ve read about. Like I said, some make sense, others are facepalm worthy 🤦🏽‍♂️ (cue the Captain Picard meme)

First, let’s look at some common-sense ways to increase a car’s mpg. A big one is to lay off the lead foot. It is believed that a car’s optimum mileage is around 55-60 mph (ugh, let’s not return to the 70s), and that mileage decreases as speed increases past that point.  Sure, Lead-Foot Louie probably does use more gas than Old Man Jenkins. You could also skip the artificial air conditioning and use Nature’s “4-70” A/C (you know, 4 windows down at 70 mph), as the car’s A/C bogs the motor down a little and uses more gas. It is also a good idea to make sure one’s tires are inflated correctly. After all, slightly flat tires equals slightly flat mpg. While you’re at it, when you gotta go somewhere, turn the car off. Don’t be lazy and leave it running (oh, but it’s such an inconvenience to get the car nice and cool, then have to recool it after turning it off!). Idling cars waste gas. And, whether it’s actually true or not, you could get your gas in the morning, since supposedly the fuel in the tank hasn’t expanded yet. Not sure about that. However, according to expert Cheapskate Clark Howard’s website (click link to see), there are better and worse days to get gas. For example, according to him, and GasBuddy, Thursday and Friday are the worst days to buy gas, where Sunday-Tuesday are better, as prices are usually higher for the weekend. That’s something to think about.

Now, some dumb or dangerous ways to lower mpg.

One suggestion, though a lot of people will flip you the bird—drive no faster than 45. Removing all excess weight will help, including removing passenger side mirror (huh?!), spare tire (wtf?!) and everything else non-essential. Along the lines of idling cars, turn the car off at a red light and restart it when it turns green. Weird, and it’ll land you a lot of angry horns, many bad/dirty looks, and maybe a few single-finger salutes. This one ain’t smart in summer, but rolling up all the windows and leaving the A/C off. Yeah, go cook your brain in a sizzling car to save a buck. Oh, hey, while you’re sweltering in the car, why not make your car smell lovely and make yourself a snack for later? Do double-duty and bake some cookies in that oven you’re driving! Uh huh, sure.🙄 Feeling lucky? You could draft behind another car or a semi. Drafting is driving really close to the car in front of you. Um, in most places, that’s called tailgating, and I’ve found that that usually ends up with the front car performing a brake check on the one behind.😱 Not smart, and probably will result in some kind of traffic accident. While keeping tires at the right pressure helps, why not go to the extreme and overinflate them? Sure, you’ll wear them out faster, but by god you’ll get better mileage! Yup.

If all of that fails, I’m sure there’s some strange and bizarre gizmo for sale out there that will work miracles for mileage.

In this society we currently live in, most of us rely on our cars to get us where we’re going. For better or worse, those cars normally require gas (or diesel) to operate; and, like it or not, we have to buy that gas at whatever price our chosen station is going to charge. The best way for us to stick it to them is to attempt to increase our cars’ efficiency. Driving smarter and more relaxed is the best way. I certainly don’t advise drafting behind another car or any other dumb and dangerous practice. Technology gives us many tools to assist in savings at the pump. Many websites and apps are out there. I’m not here to endorse any of them, nor would I get paid to, so go find them. Go save yourself a few bucks here and there. Go get that liquid gold for your car. Be smart, drive politely, be safe and be well.

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