I recently went on a few hour-long drives with one of my great friends behind the wheel. Mark’s early 2000s Ford Focus, off the lot was a bit of a fuel-sipper, but that didn’t stop him from hyper-milling even more. With a quick flick motion of the windshield wiper stalk, he goofily locked the car’s windshield wipers in the up position while on the highway. “Dude isn’t it hard to see with the wipers stuck in front of your face?” I laughingly asked, he turned to me and responded “Better gas mileage, less drag.” Oh lordy.
We all have our tricks of the trade when it comes to efficiently maximizing those precious gallons of go-go juice in our vehicles. Some don’t use the air conditioning at all on hot days, some keep their car free of any trash or extra weight in the passenger area. Others remove front license plates, buy flush ‘aerodynamic’ hubcaps or alloy wheels to keen back on wind resistance. Maybe it’s accelerating at a crawling pace from a green light, barely using the brakes as you coast through traffic or just shutting the car off completely every time you come to a full stop. I’ve heard stories of people using special spark plugs, stupid gizmos that plug into your cigarette lighter and sync with apps on your smart phone…. and don’t even get me started on the Tornado.
Years ago when I proudly owned a cheap, eighteen year-old Saturn SL1, aka the slowest machine on Earth, I routinely achieved very high 30s and sometimes close to 50mpg in daily driving. That 1.9-liter made no power whatsoever but gosh it was a fuel-sipper. Mine had a horrendous, horrendous four-speed automatic transmission that was acted more confused than a Kardashian trying to figure out to tie their own shoes. At times where the ‘little Saturn that could’ should be in fourth gear, I’d still be hanging up in the high RPMs of third. Most noticeably was exiting the highway down a long off ramp. I remember every morning on my way to work, tapping the shifter into neutral as I coasted down from 55mph to the next red light. Maybe my SL1 just didn’t feel like shifting into 4th at 5:40am. It worked wonders and my RPMs dropped to a much-appreciated, much more realistic low. Did this ridiculous action pay off in mileage gains? I think so.
What absurd tactics or strategies do you abide by to squeeze a few more miles out of your car’s fuel tank?