I have to agree with people on here, some the ideas are just not feasible. The air conditioned if properly maintained doesn't cause extra fuel use, if you constantly let your gas tank run low you run into the risk of having sand and sediment deposit in the tank which could end up in the lines, pump or engine; moving and buying a new car would be great but not all of us have that money. Hybrids do seem to be the answer but you have to ask yourself questions-1. If you do much city driving they don't save that much gas, they're best for long distance and constant RPM driving, 2. Do you live in a city that has a good number of hearing impaired residents. Hybrids cannot be heard easily, 3. If you were to get into an accident and had to be cut from the car, first responders would have to electrically ground the car. This wouldn't be bad if every hybrid had the same looking electrical wiring but they don't. 4. We don't know in five years how expensive they will be to be repaired. A suggestion is to look into GM's DOD (displacement on demand) technology. They take 6 and 8 cylinder cars that automatically shut down to 4 cylinders when you reach a constant RPM for a certain amound of time.
Some of these tips go against many recent aticles and reports about saving gas. For example, turning your car off when idling - it's only efficient if the car is going to be turned off for at least two minutes, otherwise you burn more fuel. Also, airconditioning - the latest report I heard was it doesn't make enough of a difference to warrant being uncomfortable.
Regarding the waiting until empty - actually the latest report I heard was to do it when the gas is about 1/2 full - because of the vapors. And the best thing is to have the gas pump on the slowest pump speed - again because of the vapors. The best time to fill up is in the early morning - before the vapors have a chance to expand.
Just to back what others have said about buying a more fuel efficient car, chances are, unless you are already in the market for a new car, buying a fuel efficient vehicle will probably be a step backward (assuming you are only talking money and not buying one for other concerns, such as environment).
These results will vary depending on your situation, but a few weeks ago I ran the numbers for me. My current vehicle is paid off so I'm not making any payments. Using a theoretical vehicle that runs on free fuel (meaning I have zero fuel costs) and costs only $20K (a bargain for most cars nowadays, let alone a hybrid), I figured gas would have to reach at least $10/gallon before purchasing that car would benefit me financially. Now translate that to real world where you do need to pay for fuel and a new car most likely would cost more, gas would have to be even more expensive before you have any financial savings.
A quick note about filling up on empty, it may be true that less gas in the car equals more strain on the fuel system, but I've been driving for almost 25 year and nearly always wait until I'm under a quarter of tank to fill up (usually under an 1/8th). I have never had a problem with the fuel system in any of my cars.
Some of these tips are feasible, some are not. Move closer to work? Buy a new car? If I had the money for that, I would not have to save pennies on gas. I'm trying to hang on to my house and car. I would love to be able to walk or bicycle everywhere, it's not a physical possibility for me. And I do not live in a city, but just outside of one in the suburbs. The closest grocery store is 5 miles away on a busy highway, not ideal for walking, even if I could walk well.
But I do (always have) follow the speed limit closely, I don't "rush" trafic lights. It's amazing to me how many people speed past me only to slam on their brakes one car length ahead of me at a traffic light. I use the cheapest gas. I keep my tank full in case of emergency. I combine my trips, planning them out to not only save gas but the environment. I do not have an SUV, those are not needed around here unless you have more than 2 kids to haul around.
Another tip: My neighbors and I check with each other when we are going shopping. We try to combine our lists of needs, plan a route, and either pile into one car together, or give $ to the person driving to pick up what we need. Of course, you need to know your neighbors first. We take turns on who drives.
Just fyi a lot of these ideas are not feasible. buying another car or moving really aren't appropriate choices. and letting your gas tank go down to 1/4 tank is threatening your fuel injection if you have one of those. I think people need to clean their cars out of all the junk laying in it, and keep a full tank. lighten the load that way.
Now when I get in the car, instead of first turning the key as I used to, I put on my seatbelt and my glasses and then turn the key when I'm actually ready to pull out. When I arrive I likewise turn the engine off immediately and then get ready to leave the car.
Air conditioning units built since 2000 do not cause gas usage to go up. Letting your tank almost run dry is bad for your entire fuel system.
Moving closer to work? Have you checked housing prices lately? Rental prices? You just don't get up and move.
When they have the kinks worked out of the hybrids, I'll buy one, but only if I can get a decent SUV. I can't get to my home without one, especially in the winter and spring. Until then, I'll drive my current vehicle until it falls apart. It's at 130,000 miles and going strong. Tell the oil companies to stop sending us degraded gasoline and I'll even use regular all the time. However, replacing my engine is not cost effective on a regular basis. We had to replace the engine on three of our vehicles in one year due to bad gasoline. They figure they can dump the junk in the rural areas and get away with it.
There was a time when America had decent public transportation systems. Now, thanks to Detroit, we're dependent on our cars. These problems could have been solved years ago, but this country is run by big business.
I question the a/c one--I went 51 weeks without an a/c (not willing to go in debt to fix it)--I have not had a change in my gas mileage since we got it fixed four weeks ago. I did get 2 mpg more when I started using my cruise control as much as I can, set at the speed limit, of course. At the same time I worked on following to other "driving tips." So those do help. (I went from 22.8-23.4 mpg to 25.3 mpg)
I don't really like the idea of waiting until my tank is almost empty to fill up. I figure it is cheaper to fill up the top half of my tank weekly instead of an almost empty tank if the gas jumps up 40 cents in one week like it has at times this past year.
e.i. I have a 26 gallon tank in a minivan. I use about a tank of gas every three weeks. so week one is 6.5 gal/4.05 week two 6.5 gal/4.12 week three 13 gal/4.58 equals total of $112.64
vs. only filling up in week three 26 gal/4.58 total is $119.08
I know it doesn't seem like a "huge" savings, but it takes a huge risk out of having an empty tank--I've seen how long the lines get at gas stations before a hurricane hits or the threat of a gas hike or terrorist attack, etc. It is just a smarter habit to keep the tank on the fuller side--you'll have more peace of mind.
Bunnytoes is right. You really need to do the math. If you have a loan, it could take you years to break even! I found out that it would take me 4 years to break even and see any savings because of the loss of value of my Jeep & my remaining loan.
If you decide to go with a hybrid, be careful. The maintenance alone can be more costly than what you would save in gas.
7/15/2008 5:26:40 PM
Thanks Stepfanie! I always enjoy reading your articles. This one is great and I'm going to follow some of the steps, especially driving 60 mph or slower (if I can empty that lead out of my foot!). Karen A., Cincinnati
7/15/2008 4:47:36 PM
Aside from what everyone else has already said, the only thing that will really help is to re-invent our communities so we CAN use feet, bikes and public transportation. That won't be a quick fix, but it will go a long way in the long run.
More drilling will just make things worse. Lets use something else besides gas... electricty maybe? I think this whole fuel thing is actually good. We'll have better vehicles, and better bodys while we conserve energies!
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