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Squeezing the most out of every last drop of gasPosted Saturday, May 24, 2008, at 8:41 AM
The other day my wife, Amy, admitted that gas prices have gotten high enough that she's started driving with efficiency in mind. No more accelerating right up to the moment she applies the brakes.
Coasting is in.
I got to feel a bit self-righteous about then. I'm a veteran of the late-1970s, early-1980s gas crunch. I was young and poor, generally had old, inefficient vehicles, and would savor each drop of gasoline like it was a fine and very ancient wine. And I never really got over it.
I've always been a coaster.
I'm not sure how much it helps, but I figure it can't hurt. We've got all this gravity laying around. Might as well put it to use, eh? There are, of course, other things besides coasting to save gas. If you're interested in getting every last mile, every last yard, every last foot and every last inch out of every last drop of gasoline, there are lots of tips floating around out there these days.
Here are a few from Leon Schumacher, a University of Missouri professor of agricultural systems management specializing in fuel-economy research.
--Slow down. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph.
Some truckers report up to a 25 percent increase in fuel economy when traveling at 60 rather than 70 mph.
--Don't be an aggressive driver. Erratic speeding up and slowing down greatly reduces fuel efficiency.
--Make sure you have clean air and fuel filters. Dirty filters choke off air and create a rich mixture so that the engine burns too much gas for the available amount of air.
--Worn spark plugs cause misfiring, which wastes fuel.
--Make sure your gas cap is on tight. Gas tanks with damaged or loose caps can lose fuel to evaporation.
--Inflate your tires properly. Under-inflated tires may cost drivers a mile or two per gallon of gas.
--Using cruise control can be an effective fuel saver on level but not hilly terrain. A typical motorist may lose 2 percent to 3 percent of fuel efficiency using cruise control on hilly terrain. It's a good idea to switch it on and off and allow your engine to take advantage of the terrain.
But Professor Schumacher might not be the last word on fuel savings. At least, Popular Mechanics has some advice to add, poking holes in a few myths about how to save a drop or two of precious gas:
Myth No. 1: Cold-Weather Fill-er-Ups
Myth No. 2: The Clean Air-Filter Swap
Myth No. 3: Going Premium
Myth No. 4: Tire Inflation
Myth No. 5: Cutting the A/C
Myth No. 6: The Gadget Con
Myth No. 7: Short-Stop Idling
I remember trying just about everything back in the old days. This time around, I'm going to stick mainly with coasting -- on my bike.
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Eric Crump is a former editor of The Marshall Democrat-News. He lives elsewhere now but still loves Marshall and Saline County. He's trying to catch up on all the stories he should have written while he was on staff.
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