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Friday, September 1, 2006

My Spin On Fuel Economy

Seems like most everyone has something to say about how to best get every mile possible out of a gallon of gas. You’ll often find lists (e.g. top ten) of the best things you can do to maximize your mileage.

Usually near the top of these lists, they’ll always say to keep your speed down. But this doesn’t make sense to me. For example, if it were possible (and I’m not saying it is) to drive downhill for, say, an hour and just the right grade so as to keep you at a reasonable velocity without having to step on the accelerator pedal, you’d theoretically be able to sail along at 70 or so miles per hour and still have nearly the same amount of gas in your tank as when you started.

So, what these tips need to say, instead of keeping your speed down, is to keep your engine speed down. It’s all about the RPMs, baby.

Thus, for the past month or two, I’ve made it a personal priority as something of an experiment to keep an eye on my car’s tachometer and not let the engine get above 3,000 RPMs. The routes I usually drive are such that I can often stay close to 2,000 RPMs. On the interestate, my Pontiac Vibe is able to maintain 70 MPH and stay just under 3,000 RPMs. Naturally, there are a few times where one simply has to get up to the flow of traffic very quickly. I’m certainly not going to cause a line of drivers behind me whom I’ve merged in front of to have to slam their brakes because I’m taking my time getting up to speed.

I do not yet have hard data to report, but the feeling I currently have is that I am using a lot less gasoline. I’m fairly sure my driving routine has been fairly normal since I last filled up. I’ve watched my fuel gauge go from ½ to ¼ during the past several days (more than a week??) and I’m nearly positive it’s moved that amount over a longer period of time than usual.

I’ll keep this up another couple months and blog again with some numbers. I’ve not tracked how many gallons I’ve purchased (and don’t plan to), but since I always use my debit card for gas, my Quicken register will quickly tell me how often I purchase gas. My money is riding on purchases being a lot more frequent prior to about the time I began this experiment.

Oh, and clearly, more-so than any prior entry I’ve ever posted here, this is the most appropriate place to say, your mileage may vary!

» Posted by ALBj at 03:08 PM (ET)
Category: Musings


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