Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Want to save gas? Slow down

The cost of filling a tank in an average American car is approaching $50. That is high enough to make many drivers reconsider how much they have to spend on other purchases.
However, the higher fuel charge is just the beginning. You probably have noticed that the cost of groceries is heading up, and that fuel surcharges are reappearing on your garbage bills.
Funny how whenever the cost of fuel goes up, taste in vehicles gets smaller. Suddenly, small cars with high mpgs are going for $20 Gs, no discounts thank you.
You will also remember that last year, when gas was $1 a gallon less, and two years ago the American automakers (well, two of them) were still emerging from bankruptcy, the buying public was focused on large trucks and SUVs.
Such gas guzzlers still make up the majority on the roads. However, nobody, or at least very few are heeding the advice to slow down and save gas.
On highways in particular, a driver who proceeds at 60, when the speed limit is 70, takes his life in his own hands. Other drivers — often in large pickups and SUVs — sail by at 75, often with angry hand gestures at any fool who gets in their way.
You don't have to take my word for it. Go to "HowStuffWorks" and it is explained in detail.
But to provide the short version, it takes a lot more than twice the gas to from 40 mph to 80 mph. The peak efficiency varies from vehicle to vehicle, but most get their peak gas mileage somewhere between 40 and 60. Those with a lot of drag -- vehicles with large square fronts and big tires -- are on the low end of that scale. Small light cars with pointed fronts are at the high end.
So, when you are driving 60 and some monster SUV blows by you at 80, you can just imagine what his or her mileage is like.


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