Gas price sign
Do Americans care about fuel economy as the average price for a gallon of gasoline hovers around $4.00 and nears $4.50 in some parts of the country? You bet they do, though they also have a fair number of misconceptions about how to squeeze a few more miles out of every drop.
The Consumer Federation of America's most recent survey says that if we had a 50 mile-per-gallon car fleet today, we'd save more oil than there the entire proven reserves in the entire Gulf of Mexico. And people care about that. According to Jack Gillis, author of The Car Book and a CFA spokesman, 87 percent of respondents said it is "important that the country reduce its consumption of oil," and 54 percent said it is "very important."
An amazing 65 percent support a mandated transition to a 50-mpg fuel economy standard by 2025-a figure that presumably includes even some Tea Party supporters. That's a tough standard, some 15 mpg better than the ambitious goal set by the Obama Administration (35 mpg by 2016). (Though the Prius, the most fuel-efficient car on the road, gets 50 mpg today.)
"The expectations of American consumers are reasonable and achievable," Gillis said in a conference call." He said that using such available and on-the-shelf technologies as cylinder deactivation and engine cutoff when stopped (the so-called "mild hybrid" popular in Europe) we could make five to 10 percent economy improvements.
CFA says that Asian carmakers, compared to the U.S. competition, are offering twice as many vehicles with 30 mpg or better. "It's shocking that so few of today's cars get more than 30 mpg," he said. I agree. I'm test-driving a $17,000 Hyundai Elantra Blue that gets 35 mpg on the highway, and that kind of economy is routine for Asian carmakers.
Mark Cooper, CFA's research director, said that in five years of the group's polling, the public's views have stayed remarkably consistent: They want less dependence on Middle Eastern oil and higher fuel-economy standards.
Cooper pointed out that Gulf oil is a big player when it comes to U.S. reserves, but is "inconsequential" in terms of world supply. The U.S. has just three percent of world oil, though most people think we have a much bigger piece of the pie. When informed of this unpleasant fact, Cooper said, the percentage that thinks it's "very important" to reduce oil dependence goes up significantly (from 54 percent to 68).
People care about fuel economy, but they're misinformed about how to actually achieve it. The federal government's fueleconomy.gov site (very useful to check cars' mpg) just published the "Top Ten Misconceptions about Fuel Economy." Here are a few (the ones I like).
It takes more fuel to start a vehicle than it does to let it idle.
People are really confused about this one, and will leave a car idling for half an hour rather than turn it off and restart. Some kids I know started an anti-idling campaign in the suburbs and are shaming parents into shutting down their cars. Idling uses a quarter to a half gallon of fuel in an hour (costing you one to two cents a minute). Unless you're stalled in traffic, turn off the car when stopped for more than a few minutes.
Vehicles need to be warmed up before they're driven.
Pshaw. That is a long-outdated notion. Today's cars are fine being driven off seconds after they're started.
As a vehicle ages, its fuel economy decreases significantly.
Not true. As long as it's maintained, a 10- or 15-year-old car should have like-new mileage. The key thing is maintenance: An out-of-tune car will definitely start to decline mileage-wise.
Replacing your air filter helps your car run efficiently.
Another outdated claim, dating back to the pre-1976 carburetor days. Fuel-injection engines don't get economy benefits from a clean air filter.
Aftermarket additives and devices can dramatically improve your fuel economy.
As readers of my story on The Blade recall, there's not much evidence that these "miracle products" do much more than drain your wallet. Both the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Reports have weighed in on this. There are no top-secret 100-mpg bolt-ons out there.
Using premium fuel improves fuel economy.
You might as well write a check to BP if you believe this. Only use premium if your car specifies it.
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Do you guy's do any research and fact checking? First you say that a dirty air filter does not effect fuel economy but when you click on the 10 ways to save money on gas the fist thing it say's replace your air filter.
"the Prius, the most fuel efficien car on the road," Totally wrong, why do people keep saying this? It gets 48 mpg highway. A 1987 Honda Civic CRX HF gets 51 mpg highway. And a 1989 Geo Metro gets 52 mpg highway. And those cars were made over 20 years ago. wth can't i post this, it isn't spam. that person putting a link for a dating site is spam.
Endanger lives to save a few drops of gas?
Living in a rural area of a northern state (Minnesota), I was disgusted to hear last winter, that the major metro area of the state had passed an ordinance against warming up your car before driving into city traffic. Apparently, the city feels the 'carbon footprint' is more important than traffic safety. Take this into consideration when planning what time of year to take a road trip to visit relaives in our fair cities.
Maybe in warmer climate states folks don't have to deal with the frost that builds up continuously on the inside of the auto glass from condensation of breath. When the auto glass and engine block are at temperatures well below zero, as is often the case in winter here, the defroster can't warm the glass enough to clear it for several minutes of engine warm-up. So you scrape at it continuously with one hand, while trying to see out through a tiny spot, and steering with the other hand.
Damned if yu do, damned if you don't...
When the inevitable fatal crash happens as a result, no doubt, the unfortunate driver who obeyed the law by not warming his engine is found guilty of criminal neglegence for unsafe operation. That is, if he survives the crash long enough to be charged. Shouldn't people who pass knee-jerk ordinances be liable too?
1981 Car ads. Dodge cars from smallest to largest, 52 to 35 mpg . Buick Skylark 47mpg. Caprice Chevy, big V8 31mpg. What happened is Big Oil and Politicians. Can't have that smog. As a child, in Illinois, I noted the rail road tracks abandoned in the streets of the towns and country side. I assumed the RR had abandoned them. Found out there was electric trolley lines running between the towns. GMC (Bus's) and Standard Oil (fuel) spent millions to get rid of them. They were dangerous to people and livestock running so silent. This was back in the 30s and 40s. So you think it's something new? (smile) Note how the politicians stopped the plans for HI Speed Rail. Could it have had anything to do with that $34,900,000.00 the Oil and Gas industries gave in campaign funding last election. ($844,000.00 to Obama) Or the $190,000,000.00 Oil and Gas reported for lobbying in 2009 and $144,000,000.00 in 2010?