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Thread: Little things you can do to save gas

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Little things you can do to save gas

    Saving gas is really about saving money - so it's not necessarily a smart move to sell whatever you're driving now (even if it's a big SUV) in order to buy a more "efficient" car. You could lose a pile of money on your old vehicle - especially if it's still pretty new and so still in the steepest part of its depreciation curve. (Which lasts from the day you drive it home from the dealer until it's about five years old, fyi.) And if you're spending thousands - maybe tens of thousands - on a new car, it doesn't necessarily matter how good it is on gas. Money spent is money spent - on $4 per gallon fuel or a $25,000 "economical" car.

    So, what can you do to ease the pinch a little? You might be surprised. And the good news is it probably won't cost you anything - yet could save you a bunch.

    * Smooth and steady driving -

    What burns the most gas is getting your vehicle moving, not keeping it moving. So the longer you can maintain forward momentum without coming to a complete stop, the less fuel you will consume. For example, try to anticipate red-green traffic lights cycles - and keep your vehicle moving just fast enough that you get to the next red just as it's about to go green. Let it coast gradually, using its own momentum; then pick up speed again as traffic ahead begins to move forward. Try to accelerate - and decelerate - gradually and smoothly. The main thing is to try to avoid having to come to a complete stop whenever it's possible to do so while still maintaining decent speed and not being obnoxious to other drivers. In city-suburban traffic, this is very doable. It's also kind of relaxing, actually. And not only will you save a surprising amount of gas, you'll notice your brakes and tires last longer, too.

    * Taking advantage of the "sweet spot" -

    Your car's sweet spot - the speed at which it is most fuel-efficient - is approximately 45-50 mph. This just happens to coincide with the speed limit on many secondary roads. By choosing a more roundabout route, you can enjoy the scenery as well as up your MPGs. Traffic congestion has also reduced the average rush hour speeds on highways in and around major population hubs - making it feasible to drive more slowly than the fastest-moving traffic without being a pain in the neck to your fellow motorists. Just be sure to keep right - and yield to faster moving traffic.

    * Making yourself slippery -

    Not in the political sense; the aerodynamic one. The less your vehicle has to fight its way through a wall of air, the lower its fuel consumption will be. If you drive a pick-up truck, for example, you can swap out the tailgate for a mesh net that holds cargo just as effectively - but allows the air that would otherwise be pushing against the raised tailgate to slip right on by. If you have a car, keep the windows rolled up - and use your air conditioner. It is more energy efficient than keeping the windows open at highway speeds - which creates drag, which forces your engine to burn more fuel than it otherwise would need to. Even with the AC on. And if you have a vehicle with roof racks that can be easily removed, consider removing them - especially if you rarely use them anyhow. The less clutter on your car's exterior, the more efficient its shape will be - and the less fuel it will consume.

    * Getting into overdrive -

    Perhaps the single best improvement, efficiency-wise, of the past 25 years is the overdrive transmission. Simply put, in top gear, an overdrive transmission reduces the engine speed (RPMs) that would otherwise be necessary to maintain that speed. A modern car with an overdrive transmission can truck along at 65 mph with its engine barely turning over a fast idle (under 2,000 RPMs) while an otherwise similar car from the 1970s without an overdrive would have its engine spinning 800-1,000 RPMs faster at the same road speed - and burning up a lot more gas. You can make the most of overdrive by using it as much as possible - without lugging the engine, of course. Most modern cars can be shifted into OD at around 40 mph on a level road - and have enough available power to maintain that speed without having to downshift. With a manual-equipped car you can do this for yourself, of course. But it's also possible to encourage an automatic to shift up into OD at around 40-45 mph by simply easing back on the gas - at which point the transmission should slide into overdrive. (You can tell this has happened by watching your tachometer and noting the RPM drop.) If you have an automatic-equipped car with a "sport" setting, only use it when you want to have fun. Otherwise, you'll be wasting gas as the "sport" setting typically causes the transmission to hold gears longer before upshifting and may even lock out overdrive completely.

    * Add some air -

    By now you have probably heard about the importance of not driving on under-inflated tires. Fuel economy can drop by as much as 5-10 percent if you do. Well, another way to save even more gas is to inflate your tires to the maximum recommended pressure listed on the sidewall - which may be a couple of PSI higher than the "normal" pressure listed in your owner's manual. This will decrease rolling resistance - so your car will get going (and stay going) more easily and with less fuel consumption. The same trick is used by some hybrid vehicles and other ultra-efficiency cars to wring out the best-possible mileage. The downside is you'll notice the ride quality may suffer - and your tires might not last as long as they used to. But if you can eke an extra couple of MPGs out of your car, the savings could make the trade-off worth it.


  2. #2
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Little things you can do to save gas

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric


    * Taking advantage of the "sweet spot" -

    Your car's sweet spot - the speed at which it is most fuel-efficient - is approximately 45-50 mph. This just happens to coincide with the speed limit on many secondary roads. By choosing a more roundabout route, you can enjoy the scenery as well as up your MPGs. Traffic congestion has also reduced the average rush hour speeds on highways in and around major population hubs - making it feasible to drive more slowly than the fastest-moving traffic without being a pain in the neck to your fellow motorists. Just be sure to keep right - and yield to faster moving traffic.
    On my route to work, I can either take the crosstown expressway, or take surface streets. I've found that the surface route is far more economical. Accellerating up to freeway speed just to get off a couple of miles later isn't worth the expenditure of energy. If I had a longer commute, or if there was more stop-and-go traffic on the surface route, the freeway would make more sense.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Little things you can do to save gas

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric


    * Taking advantage of the "sweet spot" -

    Your car's sweet spot - the speed at which it is most fuel-efficient - is approximately 45-50 mph. This just happens to coincide with the speed limit on many secondary roads. By choosing a more roundabout route, you can enjoy the scenery as well as up your MPGs. Traffic congestion has also reduced the average rush hour speeds on highways in and around major population hubs - making it feasible to drive more slowly than the fastest-moving traffic without being a pain in the neck to your fellow motorists. Just be sure to keep right - and yield to faster moving traffic.
    On my route to work, I can either take the crosstown expressway, or take surface streets. I've found that the surface route is far more economical. Accellerating up to freeway speed just to get off a couple of miles later isn't worth the expenditure of energy. If I had a longer commute, or if there was more stop-and-go traffic on the surface route, the freeway would make more sense.
    Agreed. I do the same thing; I shun I-81 (my Interstate) whenever possible - and not just to save fuel!

  4. #4
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    Re: Little things you can do to save gas

    It is the opposite for me. Taking surface streets burns more gas because I am in a suburban driving environment with nothing but shopping strips and traffic lights.

    Give me the damn expressway any day with the 65 mph speed limit and no cops so I can do 80.

    I get my best mileage on the highway with 29 mpg at 80 mph cruising speeds. When the car was new, I got 32 mpg at the same speed.

    Suburban driving is bullshit. Slow speeds are bullshit.

  5. #5
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Little things you can do to save gas

    Luckily on my commute, I can run about 3/4ths of it without stopping. On a good day I can watch the MPG meter on my nag screen and when conditions are right, I'll be up to 28 MPG when I get downtown where I have to stop and turn right. It's been as high as 32 there. If I take the expressway, my best run is 22 by the time I've got to my exit for work. It doesn't help that there are multiple stops on the most direct route from my neighborhood to the crosstown Interstate. Those stops, and the accelleration to highway speed for a short journy, kill economy. A long, steady 40 MPH does much better.

  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Little things you can do to save gas

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
    It is the opposite for me. Taking surface streets burns more gas because I am in a suburban driving environment with nothing but shopping strips and traffic lights.

    Give me the damn expressway any day with the 65 mph speed limit and no cops so I can do 80.

    I get my best mileage on the highway with 29 mpg at 80 mph cruising speeds. When the car was new, I got 32 mpg at the same speed.

    Suburban driving is bullshit. Slow speeds are bullshit.
    It depends where you are... in a major metro area sucxh as DC or Atlanta, etc. - I agree. But in my area, the secondary roads are really pleasant. Very little traffic; great views. And some of these roads have great curves, too!

    On the other hand, when I lived in the DC area, I began to hate driving, period.

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    Re: Little things you can do to save gas

    That's true, but uncrowded secondaries are pretty rare. You are usually following a dump truck at 35 mph in a 55 mph zone. On those types of roads I like to run 65 or 70 like in the old days. That may be worth a 1-2 mpg improvement over the 80 I hit on the highway. No more than that.

  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Little things you can do to save gas

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
    That's true, but uncrowded secondaries are pretty rare. You are usually following a dump truck at 35 mph in a 55 mph zone. On those types of roads I like to run 65 or 70 like in the old days. That may be worth a 1-2 mpg improvement over the 80 I hit on the highway. No more than that.
    Yes, unfortunately. The land rapers - and "development" are edging into Floyd, Va. too.

    There's a greasy shyster GOP type who is about to erect a monstrosity on the Blue Ridge Parkway - turning what had been a quiet park into a "destination center."

    Makes me pray for the economic collapse some are predicting - if it will keep the god-damned maggots and "sprawl" away from us....

  9. #9
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Little things you can do to save gas

    As soon as those Economic Stimulus checks start going out, it'll all turn around.

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    Re: Little things you can do to save gas

    I just posted this article on the main site:




    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...1&Itemid=10853

  11. #11
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    Re: Little things you can do to save gas

    I just wanted to say this ... driving slow is a steaming pile of shit and a crappy idea.

  12. #12
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Little things you can do to save gas

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
    I just wanted to say this ... driving slow is a steaming pile of shit and a crappy idea.
    My Valentine One is on the way! (And good suggestion re the remote mount; I will be ordering that too).

    I have to find out whether the VA cops can confiscate a detector, though. With the remote mount and shipping, etc. I will have invested almost $500 in this thing and don't want to lose it the first week I have it to some asshole cop....

  13. #13
    ItsallaboutME
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    Re: Little things you can do to save gas

    About the make yourself slippery deal.

    #1) Windows down does not create enough drag to hurt MPG at all.(I know this from my own tests at 70 mph)
    #2) Those little tailgate nets DO NOT help mpg, they hinder. Trucks were designed for air to push the tailgate air and help with better gas milage. I tried it for three days driving 100 miles round trip and lost 2 miles to the gallon. Don't buy those stupid nets.... >

  14. #14
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Little things you can do to save gas


  15. #15
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Little things you can do to save gas

    My friend's husband did that to his Camry, now she refuses to ride with him. He's fallen in with the geeks at http://www.ecomodder.com/forum/ , who take odd aerodynamic mods and a few driving techniques as a sort of new religion.

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    Re: Little things you can do to save gas

    Quote Originally Posted by ItsallaboutME
    About the make yourself slippery deal.

    #1) Windows down does not create enough drag to hurt MPG at all.(I know this from my own tests at 70 mph)
    #2) Those little tailgate nets DO NOT help mpg, they hinder. Trucks were designed for air to push the tailgate air and help with better gas milage. I tried it for three days driving 100 miles round trip and lost 2 miles to the gallon. Don't buy those stupid nets.... >
    Thanks for sharing, that's good information. I have never really been convinced that the lowered windows cause noticeable drop in mpg at highway speeds however I did not realize about the tailgate nets.

    BTW, welcome to the board!

  17. #17
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    Re: Little things you can do to save gas

    With the tailgate up, a 'bubble' of air is formed over the truckbed, and mileage isn't hurt at all. With the tailgate down, there's no bubble, and the air coming over the cab goes into a swirl behind it, causing drag.

    The photo with the aerodynamic 'aids' duct-taped to the car is a hoot.
    Don't they know that they're going to cause the car to overheat, because the radiator isn't getting airflow?

    They'd be better off duct-taping the seams on the hood, doors, and trunklid, and removing the non-stowing windshield wipers.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

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    Re: Little things you can do to save gas

    Now that you mention duct tape, I remember back in the mid 1990s Motor Trend did a top speed test of new American muscle cars. The Mustang Cobra could only hit in the high 130 mph range until the editors put duct tape all over the front of the car. After that, it went well over 140 mph with ease.

    And for some weird stuff on your car how about this:


    I remember a character years ago, who mentioned to me how his brother did an experiment where he put tin foil all over his cheap import in an attempt to avoid any speeding tickets since the tin foil would mess-up a cops radar gun readings. I never saw the car or met this guys brother, so I don't know if this guy was pulling my leg or if this was true. However this guy did say his brother never got ticketed in the car again due to speeding however I imagine the little import with tin foil all over it looked like crap.

  19. #19
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Little things you can do to save gas

    In auto racing they cover panel gaps with helicopter tape.

  20. #20
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Little things you can do to save gas

    Quote Originally Posted by chiph


    The photo with the aerodynamic 'aids' duct-taped to the car is a hoot.
    Don't they know that they're going to cause the car to overheat, because the radiator isn't getting airflow?
    He drives the car, and doesn't seem to be experiencing any overheating.

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