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Gas: It Stinks

The price of gas is getting pretty high.  If I remember correctly, oil was trading at somewhere around $126 per barrel this week.  The tank in my car that used to cost me about $30 to fill now costs me $50.  There are many reasons, and much speculation, about why the price is getting so high.  A lot of people are talking about it, complaining, looking for the quick solution, hell, I’m one of them.  And of course, we know, something like this is bound to attract the money hungry quacks of the world.  An opportunity to play on people’s fears and make the quick buck.  It’s their motto.

I’ve heard of many thing that can improve your gas mileage.  Most of which are total bunk, of course.

There’s the old acetone in the gas tank routine.  Some people claim that adding a certain amount of acetone to your gas tank will increase its gas mileage as much as 30%.  That’s a very interesting, and very testable claim.  And it has been tested, and has shown that it can have adverse effects.

But it’s worse than useless — it’s also harmful. Acetone is the primary ingredient in nail-polish remover. And while it will burn and is a high-octane material, it’s also a very powerful solvent. So while it’s in your fuel system, it’ll be eagerly dissolving all of your rubber components … like gaskets and O-rings.

In fact, some cars have a rubber hose in the fuel line that goes between the fuel-cap assembly and the tank. When you add your acetone, pouring 100 percent, undiluted rubber-eater right onto that tube, you’ll be eating through it in no time.

There are also many products out there that claim to improve gas mileage drastically.  Usually, like acetone,  they are something you add to your gas tank.  Again, all of these can be tested.  I’m not about to test them on my car, so I’ll remain skeptical.

There are some things you CAN do to get the most out of your fuel.  Here are a few suggestions from the Federal Trade Commission’s website:

– Stay within posted speed limits. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 miles per hour.
– Stop aggressive driving. You can improve your gas mileage up to five percent around town if you avoid “jackrabbit” starts and stops by anticipating traffic conditions and driving gently.
– Avoid unnecessary idling. It wastes fuel, costs you money, and pollutes the air. Turn off the engine if you anticipate a wait.
– Combine errands. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.
– Use overdrive gears and cruise control when appropriate. They improve the fuel economy of your car when you’re driving on a highway.
– Remove excess weight from the trunk. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk can reduce a typical car’s fuel economy by up to two percent.
– Avoid packing items on top of your car. A loaded roof rack or carrier creates wind resistance and can decrease fuel economy by five percent.

The price of gas here is between $1.24 and $1.28 per Litre.  For you Americans, that’s about $4.70 per US gallon.  For you Europeans, I know, it’s still pretty damn cheap compared to yours.

There’s nothing much I can do, personally, to avoid the high prices at the pump.  I need the car, and I need to drive where I drive.  I don’t do any “pleasure” driving anymore (no more drives to Connecticut).  The gas prices look like they’re heading one way, and one way only.  Up.

6 comments to Gas: It Stinks

  • fredeliot2

    Tire pressure and oil changes can help. You should have your own pressure gage as the gages on many service station pumps are inaccurate. On many cars you can get away with a pound or two over the posted amounts, but always maintain the front/rear pressure difference. The ride might not be as smooth. Too much pressure and there may be an adverse effect on handling. If you have to drive a lot, look into low rolling resistance tires. They cost more but can gain 2% on mileage.
    Somebody must be selling homeopathic gas additives and magnets. No idea is so stupid that someone will not buy it.

  • Yup, it’s expensive here i Europe – Sweden. $2.25 per litre…

  • The title of this post says it all.

    The sad part is that our economy is basically based on oil. With the prices going up like they are, it’s affecting everything.

    If we don’t really start focusing on alternative fuel sources (and by that, I mean in the words of Bob, we need to invest “billions of dollars” in it), we’re going to be working just to buy the gas that gets us to work and back.

  • redcoat

    Here in UK, land of humungous gas taxes, even our accustomed high fuel costs have not inured us to the recent increases. My gas money in last year’s domestic budget no longer stretches all the way to work – I’ve recouped the shortfall by pumping the tyres, shifting at 2000 rpm and turning off the aircon (difference – from 24.7mpg to 30.7mpg – worth having).

    I console myself by saying that rising oil prices are a good thing. It’s only when line representing the rising cost of energy from oil intersects the line representing the (falling) cost of energy from alternatives that commercial interests (ie the ones that matter) will transfer their investments from one to the other – with spectaclar results in terms of advancement for those currently cash-strapped technologies. Hang in there you fusion/solar boys, the money’s coming. . . .

  • ShawnMilo

    Nobody has mentioned one of the best ways to deal with this problem. Take a motorcycle or scooter to work. My motorcycle gets about 47 miles per gallon. Some scooters get about 90 mpg. Compare that to the mid-twenties or so most cars get.

    Get a motorcycle if you plan to use it for pleasure as well, or need to drive on the highway. If your commute is fairly local (you don’t go over 55 mph), get a scooter. They’re cheap and a lot of fun.

    Yeah, I know that not everyone can do this because of weather or physical problems. But consider the fact that most people commute in a vehicle that could easily haul five people — and they drive it alone. That’s a lot of extra weight they’re paying for the gas to move from point A to point B. Plus, it’s a lot more fun than a car.


  • emufeet

    I just filled my car up with diesel (UK) and paid £1.23 a litre. I make that about $9 per US gallon? Stop moaning!

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