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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I'm a little confused about your claim that 'premium fuel' has more energy. Can you explain why? I have done a little 'reading up' on the subject in the past and everything I read about it claimed that 'premium fuel' has no more energy than regular.....only some additives to reduce some combustion problems with higher compression and turbo charged engines.
Also...are you really comparing apples to apples? All 'gasoline isn't created equal nowadays...there's this thing called ethanol that can get mixed in. That stuff has a way of LOWERING gas mileage. Gasoline can have as much as 10% of it mixed with it. I have a flex fuel GMC that gets about 18 mpg with gas and about 15 with E-85.....if you can even find it. GM claims an extra 15 hp on E-85 but except for extreme towing conditions I've never needed that 15 hp.
But, as they used to say a long time ago, YMMV. Your Mileage May Vary
Premium fuel has more energy per unit volume than regular. It's up to the driver to choose between using this energy to accelerate faster or to use less fuel per acceleration. I suspect that the vast majority chooses the former...
The most effective way of achieving fuel economy is to not use the fuel, that is, drive fewer miles. Except on curves, most of the time hugging the inside of the curve will reduce the miles, but more energy is expended than if the curve of least resistance is followed. Not to mention
the cost savings from less wear on the tires and suspension. All life involves tradeoffs.
of course, that what is delivered into my vehicle (2007 Honda Fit, 5spd manual transmission, 175/65/14 tires) is in fact premium. Quality does vary between brands, and sometimes between vendors who purport to provide the same brand. But that's another rant. ) I regularly (almost every fillup, and sometimes in between) calculate miles per dollar, when fuel was $4.00 for regular 87 and $4.20 for prem 91 (and sometimes 92 or 93) I found a 10% increase in mpg for only a 5% increase in cost. You do the rest of the math.
Crippling a vehicle so that it tops out at 80mph will not save fuel. gearing the vehicle appropriately for it's torque output will save tons. I'm willing to bet that if my Fit was geared properly (e.g. different ratios, or a sixth gear) so that I'd go 60mph at 2250 rpm instead of 3000 rpm, I'd approach or exceed 50 mpg, which works out to be about 13.5 miles per dollar.
I abstain fair or foul on the air filter issue. It stands to reason that a dirty filter creates more resistance than a new, clean one. But there's a lot of variables in there, and I have not run properly designed and executed tests. I suspect there's an even chance that a difference will be measurable, but not statistically significant, or material, especially when compared to the
cost of replacing the filter.
Years ago, during "our" military years (meaning the ex-wife & I), she was sent to Ft. Lee, Virginia for a 10-week school. I stayed back at my duty station, which was Ft. Sill, Oklahoma at the time. We had 2 vehicles .... her's being a small Blazer, mine a 1993 full-size extended-cab 4X4 GMC Sierra Classic. This truck was SUPER heavy, with all of the super heavy junk needed to pull super heavy trailers & carry super heavy loads .... at least as heavy as a 1/2 ton can be, probably more after I was finished loading, hooking, & bolting all the extras onto it that I wante .... err, I mean needed. It had the most powerful 350 in it that was available at that time, and the heavy-duty 5-speed manual transmission.
Twice during that period, I hit I-40 for a long weekend trip east to see her. I remember it was during the summer, because it was hot & I used the A/C almost constantly. I also had a bad habit of driving around 80MPH on the interstates, which wasn't even a slight problem for this truck. Taking all that into account, plus the fact that some of this trip was through the Appalachians, I averaged 27MPG .... IN A 4X4!! I have no idea what the sticker stated on that truck, but I guarenteee you it wasn't anywhere close to 27MPG, probably somewhere around 18 & 22 .... maybe 20 & 25 at the very, very best.
There were at least 3 "saving graces" here which provided that stupendously high mileage out of a monstrously huge 4X4. #1 is that the truck was maintained well. #2 is that these trips were 90% interstate, using cruise control most of the time to stay within 3 or 4MPH of 80. But the biggest one, #3, is that I knew how to drive this specific truck as well as any person in the world. I think it had about 30,000 miles on it then, ALL from me. My body & senses could feel & understand exactly what was going on with the truck, without me even really having to think about it. I could tell when it was operating as efficient as possible, and would just automatically make whatever adjustments necessary to correct the problem if it wasn't.
I still have that truck too .... not for sale. It's been given an easy life now, at 180,000 miles, to enjoy it's senior years. Nothing is wrong with it, save for just the typical small things which have worn out after that many miles. It MIGHT would get that type of mileage again, if I invested a few thousand into it to make it near-new again. But it's doing fine, sitting in the nice, warm garage & only working for a living on weekends & such, for fishing trips, mountain site-seeing drives, etc.
And the ironic end to this story ... my current main drive is a 2008 Suzuki XL-7, which I LOVE. It's half the size, half the weight, has half the engine (a small V-6 compared to the big V-8), 15 years newer ..... and has NEVER gotten anywhere even close to 27MPG .... 23, maybe 24 is ALL it can do, at it's very best.
Huummm .... maybe the foreign companies are so far ahead of the U.S. ones as many claim they are.
Fuel-injection engines don't get economy benefits from a clean air filter.I seriously doubt that.
Letting air free flow into the engine through a clean filter will definitely help it breath easier and run more efficiently.
If a filter becomes sufficiently clogged, your car will run poorly and be less fuel efficient.