It’s time to conserve, to cut back, to sacrifice, as gas reaches $5/gallon. We know the usual bromides: mass transit, and car pooling, not to mention bicycles, and walking/jogging. Keep your tires inflated and filters clean.
So what’s new?
Be adventuresome. Try skateboards, in-line skates or roller blades.
How about commuting to work by hang gliding or wind surfing? Not likely!
The real secret to improved gas mileage lies within each of us. Dig deeply into your soul and ask these existential questions:
What do I drive?
How do I drive?
When do I drive?
Where do I drive?
I know, I know. These are simple questions with easy answers. Not exactly, they’re existential! What would Sartre do?
If you really want to save gas, quit the office or school and stay at home. Telecommute. Order all your food from supermarket delivery services. Pay all your bills electronically. Use the solar clothes dryer. Couch potatoes don’t waste energy.
Back to driving! We know today that minor adjustments in our driving habits will result in substantial improvements in our individual gas mileage.
The major factors in gas mileage are weight, design, engine displacement, speed, and driving habits.
Reduce weight. Let your mantra be: The smaller the better. The once, and perhaps future, Governor Jerry Brown said it best: “Less is more.” Therefore get a really small car. The mini is oh too maxi. A Smart car or Fit is about the right size. A 2 cylinder car is preferable. Only in exigent circumstances should you even consider a 4 cylinder.
Get the weight out of the car. Clean the trunk, not that you should have one. The gym bags and golf clubs have to go. Toss out the spare tire and tire irons while you’re at it, as well as the extra 10W-40. Every ounce improves mileage.
Since weight is critical, no carpooling! Take a critical look at the passengers. Anticipate the divorce. Throw your husband or wife out the car now. Are the kids becoming a pain? Leave them at home. Don’t even drive them to the bus stop. Let them walk. Remember, you love them, so tough love is in order.
A motorcycle is the answer. Time to buy the Big Hog! Hit the open road; feel as one with the road. See how good you will feel wearing leathers. Free up storage space in the garage. If not a Harley, then perhaps a Vespa in the city.
Take a second look at the design. Luggage racks are both a drag and weight, and almost always superfluous. They should be history.
The next step is to rethink your driving habits. Since automatic transmissions are a substantial drain on power, drive a stick shift and watch the mileage climb. Don’t worry about the cost later of replacing a burnt out transmission. That’s in the future and you are driving for now. You are the Now Generation.
You already know how air conditioning reduces your car’s power. That’s gas mileage you’re eating up. Therefore, no air conditioning. (You always had slight guilt over Freon anyway).
Don’t open the windows though to offset the loss of air conditioning. Open windows create almost as much of a drag on mileage as the air conditioner. So windows stay rolled up, not down. That may mean driving only at night. Sweating is a good way to diet, but what a small personal sacrifice to make for the greater good of all.
No matter what size car you drive, auto or manual, driving in stop and go city driving is a killer. Ergo, only long drives in the countryside as you commune with nature.
Steady on the accelerator; never come to a full stop at the traffic sign. A rolling California stop is recommended, as long as no camera is working the intersection.
Also, cold weather hurts, especially starting up on a freezing morning. Stay at home and throw a few extra carbon emitting logs onto the fireplace. Remember how our ancestors survived under similar conditions.
Of course, putting the pedal to the metal is ill-advised even if you avoid tickets. Leadfoot is not your hero.
In the 1970’s we dropped down to the double nickel, 55. That’s too fast. Think in terms therefore of forty four. As all those jerks on the road speed past your heroic, green 44MPH, think to yourself, you really are Smarter than them. This one time only, roll down your window and salute the fools.
Therefore, in conclusion,
DRIVE AN EMPTY 2 CYLINDER SMALL CAR WITH STANDARD TRANSMISSION ONLY AT NIGHT IN WARM WEATHER FOR LONG DISTANCES AT 44MPH