An unconventional approach to improving gas mileage.
Written by Jim Chiodo
Gas pains. They affect everyone. First, a nervous stomach, then a little anger and maybe thoughts of writing a letter to the local editor, accusing oil companies of gouging. The reality is most people never do anything and resign to the increasing prices. This happens most times when I fill my tank and probably a few others share these gas pains.
There isn't anything we can do about it. We all need cars to get to work, or to run errands. Forget about walking. It's too far, too cold or too hot and just too much bother. Ride a bike? Do you realize how long it would take to ride 25 miles to work? Besides that sounds more like a task for somebody in a lot better shape than me.
So we mutter to ourselves and reflect on the crooks that run the gas stations and the oil companies. Occasionally, we even take it out on the kid behind the counter when we pay. Fact is, we should be looking in the mirrors for someone to blame. We, the operators of cars, truck, buses and planes. Not only are we conspicuous consumers, but our appetite can't be satisfied.
On top of that, many people aren't satisfied to merely get from point A to point B in a simple conveyance. We opt for luxury barges with big, hungry V-8 engines and capacities capable of transporting a small army. Bottom line, it's supply and demand. Add a few investors to the mix and the cost per barrel of oil goes up by the minute as oil futures change hands before the tanker gets from the Middle East to our homeland. So we better get used to it, because it won't get any better. Or maybe there is something we can do.
Supply and demand is a pretty fragile balance. Last year in Michigan, a pipeline broke and the supply was curtailed for a few weeks. The affect was immediate. Add some mid-east unrest or a nervous stock market and those immediate and significant price increases will be with us for a long time.
But there is a possible silver lining to that dark cloud. What would happen if suddenly, there was a 10% decrease in consumption of gasoline on a local, regional or statewide basis? What if it happened on a national scale? We use a lot of gas every day. Millions of gallons burned moving us about the highways. A 10% reduction would certainly throw a curve to the oil companies. It would have a profound affect on the "supply and demand" situation that dictates gas price. Since this article might appear in conservation minded magazine, it might be worthwhile to note what a 10% reduction in burned fossil fuel would mean to the atmosphere too. Of course this is only a pipe dream. Or, is it?
What if there was a way for every vehicle in America to magically improve miles per gallon by that 10% figure? How much would it cost? What if the answer was nothing? Zilch, Nada, Zero. Believe it or not, that very scenario if very possible and the information in this writing holds the key to it. It is not a secret, not some get rich quick scheme. In fact, it is so simple that anyone can understand it. On a practical scale however, it would require every driver on the road to put the information I am proposing to use. Unfortunately, that is not likely.
However, a few people might take this information seriously and realize that 10% savings. Aside from grandiose hopes for economic freedom from OPEC, what I have to offer is a small (albeit important) economic freedom for anyone who reads this and decides that I have something to offer which is worthy of his of her effort.
From this point on, I will call this magic information, "My Methods. If you are serious about following my methods, your reward will be a 10% increase in MPG. Don't believe me do you? "He's off his rocker or trying to sell hype. There's got to be some hidden agenda or a gotcha." I will make this promise up front. Read about my methods. Understand them and practice them for a few months. It will take a little while to master them. Now, anyone who doesn't achieve the 10% (or more!) is welcome to take your best shot at me. If anyone finds that proverbial "Gotcha", please be sure to let the rest of us know. Publicly humiliate me. Call me a fraud and write letters to the editor about me.
Now, there is one thing that I haven't even mentioned. It is a bonus. If I mentioned it up front, you'll think I was completely nuts. None-the-less, there is a hidden bonus and after you start to realize how the gas economy is achieved, you'll be a better frame to understand the bonus. More about the hidden bonus later.
Getting back to my promise; the average driver who follows my methods will get 10% improvement in MPG. Listen carefully, I said "AVERAGE". That means some people will get better than 10%. And yes, some will get less. Why? It's because they all won't follow my methods all the time. Lots of factors distract us. We forget to put one foot in front of the other and fall down. Similarly, we forget to follow the methods from time to time. But... if we are make reasonable effort, 10% average increase in MPG will be our prize.
I mentioned several times that there is no hidden agenda. I am not trying to sell some bolt-on gizmo that makes your car get more MPG. You will not find enticement to send money for a bottle of snake oil to put in your gas tank. Nothing you will find in my methods will cost you one red cent. Your only investment is to take effort to remember and follow my methods.
Who the heck am I and how made me an expert?
First off, I am a middle age man who has been driving for a lot of years. I remember when gasoline sold for 21 cents a gallon. Some of you might question my interpretation of "middle age" because of that. What the heck, "isn't middle age a state of mind anyhow?" Other than having been around the block once or twice, the information contained here is the result of the last few years and my "game".
Let me tell you about my "game." A few years back, I purchased a car, which displays fuel mileage being obtained. It has a couple modes. One is the constant read-out and the other is average. How this is accomplished might have something to do with a little elf in the fuel line, spooning gas into a measuring cup and another elf watching the miles driven and adding it up on a calculator. Another possibility is some kind of fuel meter, connected to the odometer, with a computer chip making the calculations.
Like a normal person, I wondered how much gas mileage my new vehicle would deliver. I checked it the normal way, as done with previous autos. This entailed keeping a record of gas gallons purchased and miles driven between fill ups, then doing some simple math. The result proved that the little guys measuring spoonfuls of gas in the fuel line were very accurate.
Next, I noticed that sometimes, I got better mileage than other times. Of course this probably fell into the "no-brainer" category, cause the better mileage was generally a result of more highway miles, versus around town. Beyond, that I also noticed that how I drove, whether highway or in town could affect the mileage. Since I regularly drove about 30 miles one way to work, it became a "game" for me to see how much improvement could be gained.
My drive to work comprises about half highway miles and half town-like driving with red lights, traffic, etc. Without employing any of my methods, I established a benchmark over several weeks and then began a series of tests to employ my methods. The results were surprising. At one point my variance was an astounding 15% net increase in MPG over the benchmark. And.... I was able to repeat the test results, regardless of weather, temperature, time of day or even volume of traffic.
Some other ground rules for my game included a stipulation that I must not take any longer to get to work. So those of you who think the way I improved mileage was to go slow, would be wrong. In fact, especially on the highways, I often was going a little faster than most traffic, but let's not tell the cops about that. Nor did I revert to my teenage days of burning rubber at every light during the benchmarks. I just drove what I considered to be "normal"
Does all of this make me an expert? I'll let the reader be the judge of that. In the following sections, you will learn about the pitfalls of gas consumption and how to gain the "touch" with your foot. You'll also learn to use your observations better and become more aware of traffic, etc.
A question that might come up is "why am I writing about this?" Let's see, there are some humanitarian motives, like the possibility that everyone will adopt my methods and the world economy or even the US economy will benefit. Since I am not holding my breath on that one, I am hoping to have even a slight impact on local gas prices and benefit myself. OK, there is one last motive and that is this writing will become widely read, that I will gain recognition, go on Oprah and talk about it and make lots of money. Well, a guy can dream can't he? How about we just move on to the basics?
Basics of fuel economy.
I will only briefly mention some universal things that you have read a dozen times before, because my methods don't take these into consideration. I am suggesting that you will get 10% improvement above what you are getting now, without doing anything to your vehicle. If you are driving a car with half the spark plugs misfiring, getting terrible mileage that terrible mileage can be improved, but 10% of terrible gas mileage from a clunker isn't much. On the other hand, if your are driving a newer fuel-efficient car in good tune, and getting 25 mpg. Then 10% starts to look a little better.
So, in the interest of common sense and even if these don't affect my methods, here are some common sense things that you have probably heard before:
Common sense stuff that everyone else has told you about, more or less
- Make sure you car is in good running order, (tune up, exhaust, oxygen sensor, etc.)
- It's not a bad idea to make sure there are no gas leaks. Gas spilling out on the road doesn't help your mileage either.
- If you drive a car with a huge car top carrier that has nothing in it, you may want to take it off and reduce air drag. The same goes for long horn cattle rack mounted on the hood. Would be pilots who fly their hands up and down out the window might cause some air drag too. While we're at it, a big slobbery dog with his tongue hanging out the window isn't the most aerodynamic thing either, but I am getting picky here. Except for the dog. "Did you ever drive behind a car with a dog slinging slobber back on you?"
- Tires inflated to the proper level are a good idea too. In fact, it might even be more important than gas mileage if you drive a late model SUV with some of those suspect tires.
- Lastly, change you oil at the proper intervals. An engine runs better when it is being lubricated properly and not churning up molasses-like dirty oil in the crankcase.
All right, let's assume the car we are driving is running reasonably well and there are no anchors dragging behind it. Here are a few more no-brainers:
- Don't stomp on the gas when the light turns green.
- Don't slam on the breaks at every stop.
- Don't rev the engine to make noise with the idea of impressing members of the opposite sex. (Guys, take my word for it. I was young once and it doesn't work)
There you have it. Don't burn rubber or stomp on the brakes. Give me the Nobel Peace prize and Oprah, when do you want me on the show? If this was all I have to offer, there might be a few of you getting the tar and feathers ready. However, the basics behind "Don't stomp and don't slam brakes," taken to a much greater and detailed extreme is exactly what "My Methods" are all about, but in a way you probably never realized before.
Everybody knows that there is a sticker on new cars with a mileage statement. "This car get X mpg, highway driving and X mpg city. " Never mind that the estimates are generally wrong. The point is that the highway miles are more than the city miles. The major reasons are stop signs red lights and traffic. On the highway, you maintain a rate of speed for a longer time and do not stop. So my first rule for better mileage is not to stop, even in city-like driving. Whoa! Now I just increased the business for car repair shops everywhere and maybe even opened myself up to a lawsuit.
Let me explain a bit further on this "no stopping business". Let's say you are not in a car, but riding a bicycle. It doesn't matter if your bike riding memories were of an old one-speed fat tire job or a modern 15 speed, high tech bike. It takes more effort to get going than to maintain a speed. So remember when you were out tooling along at top speed on you way to the movies, to the corner store or just out for fun. The bike is moving along and you come to an intersection. If you don't have to stop, do you? Of course not! Stopping means you waste the momentum that was build up.
It's even worse if you were coasting down a hill and looking for that momentum to carry you partway up the next hill and you have to stop. So, if you are biking and see a possible obstruction ahead, you try to avoid it. Perhaps go around it, or in the case of an intercession, even watch for traffic, crossing without stopping. Yeah, I realize this may have been a bit reckless, but we probably all did it when we were kids. Or perhaps, you are looking ahead and watching the light turn from green to red or back to green and you timed your approach to arrive when it is green. Now you could cross the intersection without stopping or without being reckless. Aha! If you can do this on a bike, why not in your car?
The "no stopping" advice has many, many other implications and I will get to them further, but let's talk more about the traffic lights. Here's a disclaimer. My methods aren't going to help much if you are driving in a big city with bumper, stop and go traffic and an intersection every 10 feet. But, if you are on a suburban area with a mix of residential and small town intersections on a 4-lane road, that offers a lot of opportunity. By the way, that is the primary driving environment the "town like" portion of my daily trip to work.
My drive consists first of the very residential areas, leading to a two-lane road, which gives way to 4 lanes. Along the way, there are stop signs and red lights. In the middle of my route there is an onramp to a limited access highway. The second half of my daily commute is on an interstate, where the speed limit in Michigan is 70 MPH. Yes, I do drive at least 70, maybe more. "I'll take the fifth if a cop is reading this.".
Back to my daily commute and the obstacles that require stopping. As I describe this, let me change nouns and put you in the driver's seat. The first is a stop sign. You're thinking, "how can I not stop for that?" (At least not illegally) No, I am not advocating running stop signs. Although that would increase mileage, it is not safe. However, how many times you stop for a stop sign is another factor. Let's say you are following several cars and the first one stops. Naturally, the second, third, etc stops and so do you.
Typical of a stop sign situation is a 4 way, which opposing traffic takes turns going through the intersection. This causes the first car to go and the next car to move up and stop, repeated by the cars in line. With three or four cars ahead, it might mean 3 or 4 stops. This isn't necessary! Why? Did you have to follow the car ahead so closely? Of course not! What if you maintained a greater distance between you and the car ahead? That doesn't mean going slow, just keeping your distance.
What if you anticipated the cars stopping ahead? After all, this is your normal route to work. You must know it pretty well by now. You know the stop sign is there! They don't erect new ones that often. So the first lesson is to avoid multiple stops at a stop sign.
Next there are the traffic lights. Same thing applies. You should know where they are. You should also have a fair idea which ones are timed longer than others. Even if the route is new to you, you can open you eyes and see a mile or two down the road and pay attention to when it turns red or green as you approach. Armed with this information, you can adjust your speed slightly to arrive earlier or later. Even if you slow down a little, due to other cars starting up, it is better than coming to a stop. A complete stop is the worst enemy of better gas mileage.
Now, it is quite possible that you will slow down before other drivers have become aware of the light changing. Now, when I say slow down, that doesn't mean hit the brakes. It means reduce you pedal pressure and gradually slow. This may produce situations where drivers behind will pass and in fact, continue to accelerate up to the light, only for the privilege of hitting the brakes hard and the added benefit of waiting at the light until it changes.
The privilege is a dubious one, unless you are a teen-ager and want to be alongside the honey and rev up the engine to impress her while you wait. If you were paying attention though, you might remember that doesn't work. Or better yet, roll down the windows and turn up the stereo with a ground shaking speaker thud that actually rocks the adjacent cars. That's something to impress your fellow drivers. It never fails to impress me. Revving the engine and annoying others aside, you are hopefully learning to avoid stopping.
Red lights and stop signs are not the only things that cause you to slow down or stop. The guy ahead makes a turn, or stops to let off a passenger or for a million other reasons he or she slows down in front of you. If you are watching and aware of what cars up ahead are doing, then you can be prepared to change lanes safely. Notice, I said safely? This doesn't mean jerking in an out of traffic around slower cars. It simply means positioning yourself in advance to go by a car which is slowing to make a turn or what ever.
The idea is to allow enough time for you to react to the situation, which may cause a slowdown up ahead and smoothly change lanes. It might also be a longer line of cars in one lane waiting for a light to change. Like the shorter line at the grocery store, picking the right lane will mean that all the cars start moving sooner and hopefully, will not cause you to come to a stop.
Let's look at some other potential stops or slow downs. I'll use a common situation. Have you ever been on a highway, with your cruise control on and begin to creep up on a slower moving vehicle like a truck? Alongside were other vehicles and you found yourself "trapped." This caused you to touch the brakes canceling the cruise and slow down, awaiting a time when you could accelerate around the truck and resume you previous speed. Have you ever seen a situation where you were in the left lane and another car was in the "trapped" position? Then he or she pulls out in front of you at the last minute, making you slow or even brake hard. This was likely followed by muttering unmentionable things to yourself about the other driver?
Here is my next suggestion. "Forget you have cruise control." In fact, grab the cruise control level, tear it out and toss it out the window. Maybe it will hit the slobbering dog in the car behind you. Seriously, it is not necessary to damage your car and besides, you may need the turn signal connected to the speed control stalk. So just forget it is there. It is of dubious value other than to rest your foot or be a watchdog to negate speeding and a possible traffic citation.
If you've ever read other advice, "forget the cruise control" advice may be the opposite of what other experts have said. They advocate using cruise control to increase gas mileage by holding speed constant. Unfortunately, they are right, but it only applies to drivers without the ability to pay attention. It also removes your ability to control the engine speed and effort, to maximize economy. We'll talk about this more in the section titled "the touch"
Let's get back to the highway for now and without cruise control on. Ever notice the tendency for cars to bunch up. There might be 10-12 cars traveling along in a clump separated by as much as a mile with no cars. In this clump of cars, there are often those playing leapfrog or otherwise pulling out in front of each other causing others to slow down. Get away from this clump. Either stay back from it, or move faster through it, leaving a good reaction time window to speed up or slow down, change lanes, etc and avoid having to stop.
At no time have I ever said that saving gas was required you to drive slowly, especially on the highway. While it is true that driving at 55 mph and following my methods will result in better mileage, it will also take you longer to get there, and may get you run over by any number of cars or trucks on a 70-mph highway. Here in Michigan, the highways speeds are generally 70 mph and I go at least that speed, but I am not saying how much faster than that I drive for fear a certain state cop is reading this.
That doesn't mean you should push the needle up to max either. Too much disparity in speed creates hazardous situations and doesn't give you enough time to react. I believe the disparity of speed limits for trucks a cars in some states is a factor in producing accidents. It is far better for all vehicles to go the same speed. My father-in-law (now departed) would drive on highways around western New York at about 50 mph. These were 65-Mph roads where most drivers went 70. More than once I cringed as cars, truck and sometimes, bicyclists roared around him. He is the only person I ever knew who actually got a ticket for going too slow on a two-lane country road.
Now for another example: There are several trucks ahead in the right lane. Just your luck and the last truck pulls out to pass the one ahead. It is not luck, but failure to be aware. Did you see the truck gaining on the one ahead? Did other trucks already pass that one? Or, weren't you looking and paying attention? (I never said my methods would be easy). If you had been aware of the truck passing, you could have adjusted your speed to avoid the slow down. You would either be far behind, reaching the truck after it passed, or you would have passed it before it moved into the left lane.
As mentioned earlier, don't drive in a clump. This invariably, creates a situation where you will be following too close. Ever see the "pusher"? This is the driver that accelerates up to the car ahead only to touch the brakes as he reached a speed that violates the law of physics, which says, "two solid objects cannot occupy the same space". I equate this to a line for a popular ride at Disneyland where a couple people move forward to get on the ride and a long line of tired and hot vacationers each move up a bit in turn, only to stop before bumping in the person ahead. You cannot avoid this at a theme park (unless you are a VIP) but you can avoid it on the highway.
Even if traffic begins to slow such as coming to a major interchange of busy exit, if you watch the cars ahead. It is better to slow way early and continue at a slower speed than to come to a stop. How about the construction zone, where cars are stop and go, creeping by the four or five supervisors watching one person actually doing something in a "work zone"? (Sorry highway crews everywhere, it just seems that way) If you leave enough room ahead of you, it may be possible to simple idle along and never touch your brake or the gas. Yes, cars will accelerate momentarily, only to stop ahead. Even though some of the drivers behind you might not appreciate this and attempt to pass, you are actually doing them a favor by holding a speed. A slow, regular speed will allow more cars to funnel through a lane reduction than the jerky, stop and go.
Now, I am going to tell you about a bonus feature, which was mentioned in the introduction. Let's say you are following my methods, paying attention to the cars ahead and are aware of situations that cause slow downs. Lets say the situation that is causing a slow down is not your typical slow moving truck or Sunday driver, but a flat tire or a load of building materials that falls off the back of a truck. Now, instead of being aware and taking action to conserve gas, you have more advance notice to take action that may conserve something far more important than gas. I am talking about the body parts of you and your passengers, your car and perhaps someone else's life.
I will mention this more than once in this writing. My methods are not easy. It takes concentration to continually look at the cars ahead of you. Don't leave out the ones behind or along side. If you are going to change lanes, it is a good idea not to violate that two solid object rule mentioned earlier.
However it can be done. It can also be done and carry on a conversation with your passengers. One thing you cannot do is have an animated conversation. You know those TV ads where they attracting person is talking on a cell phone and his or her face lights up, just having a ball, talking to her boy/girl friend? This cannot be done on a phone or in person. While it may be somewhat rude not to look at the person you are talking to, so be it. They will understand, especially if a situation requires you to avoid an accident.
There are times when you absolutely will have to stop for a light or for traffic of whatever. Now it is time to get the car moving. Yep, the guy next to you is probably going to push the pedal hard. No, not like burning rubber, but none-the-less too hard. You can tell by listening to his or her exhaust. Like the car commercials on TV; zoom, zoom, zoom. You might wonder what is too much pedal. Here's a clue: If you can feel the seat back behind you press into your shoulders, that's too much pedal. It's also too much if you hear your exhaust go vrooooom (is that how you spell that?).
No doubt, someone will be right on your tail and many will pass on either side. As you see them pass, continue to gradually accelerate. Eventually, you will catch up to them and their "vrooom" will have been wasted effort at trying to get there before you.
Now there are some times when you should accelerate hard. One of them is if you note the rapid approach and unlikely stopping of a vehicle with the word "Peterbuilt", "White", "Mack" or other such name plates emblazoned on the grill with a bumper that is level with your back window.
Entering a highway may be a time for hard acceleration or maybe not. If the traffic is thick, it is not courteous to pull out and make others slow down. However, if you don't see any vehicles in the right lane for a ways, there is no need to get up to the posted speed in a hurry.
I don't recommend having a serious conversation in the car or conducting high-power business meetings, where reading your opponent's body English is important. If the meeting is that important, wait till you get there or just get the pleasantries out of the way in the car. It is entirely possible to have a conversation while continuing to look ahead. You mind is very capable of doing two things at once.
Speaking of doing two things, you can also use a cell phone. Dialing creates a problem, unless you can do it without looking, but speaking is the same as to the occupants of you car. I don't recommend these things to novices of my method, but I have shaved while driving and consider myself more aware of traffic conditions, cars ahead, etc, than most. When you consider it, shaving is not a big deal. (I am talking with an electric shaver, not a razor). I know where my face is. It is the same place it always was. Nose and ears haven't moved much recently either. It would be no different that scratching one's ear while driving. I was going to say picking one's nose, but that would be gross.
There is a lot of talk in the press about outlawing cell phones or eating a Big Mac while driving. For a number of people, this would greatly improve driving. These things can indeed be a distraction and result in unsafe driving. However, I maintain that the awareness level for many drivers is so low to begin with, adding the cell phone decreases it to a point of next to nothing. So yes, the cell phone can reduce your awareness, but the important factor is where was that awareness level to begin with?
If your being aware of others, who is being aware of you?
Despite all you best efforts to know what the other guy is doing; they still can surprise you. This is truer in town like driving than on the highway, but I never cease to be amazed by drivers everywhere.
Here's a typical situation that might apply to you. It's morning, you're half-awake and just about to leave the residential area to a more traveled road on your way to work. There is a stop sign, but maybe this is one of those where you often just do a rolling stop. Since it's morning in Michigan, there is a good chance the sky is gray and on top of that, your windows might be a little dirty too, especially the side ones. You quickly glance right and left and proceed to pull out. Whoops, where did that car come from? The other driver hits the brakes, mutters, or perhaps even vocally let's you know how much he loves you. He may even wave with less than all the fingers on his hand.
Has this ever happened to you or the reverse? I mean, have you ever had anyone pull out in front of you? Of course you have. In fact, I'll bet more that one of you violated the two solid object rule. Hopefully, the worst that happened was a fender bender. You get out, exchange information. If a cop is on the scene, a citation may be issued. The most common excuse? " I didn't see him coming." This doesn't by much in the way of forgiveness, but indeed it often very true. He or she definitely did not see you coming. Of course, looking in the first place might have overcome the inability to see, but like I said, it is early, gray skies, etc. What can you do about this?
Here is my next suggestion: Turn on you headlights and have them on every time you drive anywhere. What difference would this make? Let's go back to old sleepy eyes. You'd be surprised how headlights can be seen even with a quick glance. It differentiates your car from the road, trees, houses, etc. An added benefit, is even if sleepy eyes do see you coming without the lights, having them on makes it appear you are closer and sleepy is less likely to pull out. I drive with my headlights on every day of the year, including those where the sun is shining brightly, (yes, it does do that once in a while in Michigan)
I did a test on this over a month long period. At that time gas mileage wasn't my incentive, but rather, my mental health. If you drive even a few miles to work, chances are someone is going to pull out in front of you or change lanes quickly and so on. These incidents generally aren't likely to result in an accident, but most require braking (sometimes hard), and produce the muttering, vocalization, etc. In California, it might even result in pulling out the 44 magnum. Guns aside, when I arrived at work most days, I was wound up tight and not in the most pleasant mode. Turning my lights on greatly reduced the 44-magnum scenario and my blood pressure.
The Touch vs. Cruise Control
In this next section, I'll talk about a way to make your foot more sensitive. You macho guys out there don't have to worry. I am not going to turn you mushy. Just your foot!
Before we talk about the foot, it might be a good idea to get some definitions clear. "A little bit", ease up some" "Gradually slow down". One person's "little" might be a "lot" to someone else.
Here's an exercise to define what I mean by a little in the way of pedal pressure. Take a book and put it on the table, hang off the edge a couple inches. Now, using one finger, position one finger under the porting hanging off the table as if you were going to lift it up. Don't lift it though. Just feel the weight of the book with your fingers, without actually moving it. Now put the book in front of you on the table. Put your finger against the book as if you were going to push it, but don't. Look closely at you fingers. Watch the skin on your finger depress slightly. This will vary, depending on how pudgy you are, but to some extent, unless you are Superman, your skin will have some give.
You are now feeling what pressure on an object is like without moving it. This is close to what you should be aware of with your foot on the gas pedal. However, I am going to make it a little harder. Replace the book with something lighter, such as an empty Styrofoam cup. Now push the cup, but don't move it and feel the slight depression of the skin. When I say, "ease up a little" or "press harder" on the gas pedal, keep the Styrofoam cup in mind. Eventually, you will develop the "touch".
With the "touch" in mind, as you drive your car on a highway, there is a point of gas pedal pressure where you are neither acceleration nor deceleration. This is a point where your car is maintaining speed and getting the best possible gas mileage, given the factors or overall speed, wind and gravity resistance. If you hold you car at this point, the speed will not decrease on a flat road. However, if the road has a slight upward slope, the speed will gradually decrease. This of course, would be a sin, right? WRONG! There is nothing writing in stone to say you must maintain a constant speed.
On the flip side, holding pedal pressure at the constant will cause speed to increase on a slight downward slope. Is there anything wrong with this? Depends! Everything should be in moderation. Here's where I split some hairs about what is legal and what is common practice. Speed limits in Michigan are 70 MPH on highways. If you slow to 65 on the upgrades and increase to 75 on the downgrades, it is probably not a big deal. Will you be illegal at 75? I guess, but with all the other cars going 80, you probably won't stand out.
So, moderation is the watchword. Get to know the feel of you gas pedal and find this most efficient point of gas pedal pressure. I call it the sweet spot, but may be in danger of plagiarizing of a golfer's term, which refers to the best place on a golf clubface to hit the ball. This will make the ball go further. When you think about it, the analogy is pretty good with the ball going further with the same energy and the car going further with the same energy.
A combination of ingredients
You will now begin to see that "My Methods" are a combination of the several basics skills. Don't stomp and don't slam really are the fundamentals. Add some awareness, forethought and actively thinking about how you are driving, practice all of this together and this is the recipe for "My Methods"
Will this increase your gas mileage? Only you can answer that question. Will more awareness and paying attention to other drivers make you a safer driver? I'd bet my house on it. In fact, I bet my life on it every day I drive to work. Not only is my safety important but as the price of gas skyrockets due to crooked oil companies, greedy oil cartels and the kid behind the counter at the self service station, it makes me want to get even. This is my way of fighting back against the gouging, the defacto price fixing, and greed of station owners and operators.
I can't do it alone though and need your help. Won't you join me in fighting back? Do it to help you pocketbook. Do it to save the environment. Do it to help stabilize the economy or to show OPEC whose boss. Or, do it because you liked what I said and feel I should be on the Oprah show. After all, I gave you some free advice out of the goodness of my heart. How about doing it to make me rich and famous?
About the Author
|Jim Chiodo is a writer and speaker who is available for seminars. If you would like to publish this article, or have Jim come deliver a seminar, contact him for pricing at firstname.lastname@example.org .|
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