Smart driving in whatever you own today

You don't have to run out and drop $25,000 on a hybrid vehicle just
to go substantially farther on a gallon of fuel.  Hybrids are a great
tool for the job, but you can go out right now in whatever you're
driving right now and obtain much better fuel economy.  Here are
more hints for better MPG -- there's really nothing new about any of
this, it's simply well-known good sense that significantly lowers
fuel consumption, tire wear, safety risk, and maintenance costs.

The single most important thing is to drive SMOOTHLY.  This doesn't
mean slow, and doesn't necessarily mean babying the throttle all
the time.  Engines work more efficiently under load, so crawling off
the line is less efficient overall -- but don't blast away at full-
throttle, either.  Moderate and controlled is the key -- try to keep
engine RPM down low and avoid jackrabbit starts and abrupt changes.
Use the highest gears you can, including "overdrive" if you have it.

When approaching a slowdown or stop, don't use more gas to race up to
it and cram on the brakes at the last second -- brakes only WASTE
energy, so the less you need to use them the better.  Start slowing
earlier and use your momentum to coast gently into stops instead.
Coasting is deceptive sometimes, and it is easy to feel that you must
push harder to close the distance -- but recheck your speed, and
you'll usually find that you're already going fast enough to get
there and then some.  Try to predict it better on the next stop!

Leave a LARGE following distance between cars, which is not only
much safer but gives you a larger "cell" to do your smoother
driving inside of.  You will be able to see much farther ahead
and predict situations.  Don't worry about people jumping into the
gap -- you actually HELP overall traffic flow by letting them in
and simply restoring your long distance.  If someone else wants to
get ahead and go that much faster, they'll be gone quickly anyway.

Use Neutral for long coasts and when sitting at stops, especially
with automatic transmissions.  Sitting still in "D" drags and heats
the torque converter, and wastes more gas.

Slow down on the highways -- 60-65 mph tops.  You've heard this
over and over, but there's a good reason -- power (thus, fuel) needed
to push against air resistance goes up by the CUBE of your speed.
The fact that you arrive in slightly less time doesn't help much --
fuel consumed over the same distance is still proportional to the
SQUARE of how fast you went, so speed still loses.

Inflate your tires to the rated SIDEWALL pressure, not the pressure
listed on the door-placard or owners' manual.  Modern tires are
designed to run and handle best at higher pressures, such as 44 psi.

Keep your vehicle well maintained -- clean filters, oil and
transmission fluid at the right levels, wheels aligned, and
brakes in good condition so there's no chance of them dragging.
Remove as many excess "dead weight" items from your car as you can.

Plan ahead and combine your trips, and drive to the farthest-away
one first if possible.  Cold starts are a major MPG killer -- try to
keep the engine warm across most of your errands, but avoid excess
idling.  Shut down the engine if you're going to be stopped somewhere
for more than a minute.

MPG is always lower in cold weather, since the engine has to not
only fight to keep itself warm, you want it to keep YOU warm too.
Bundling up and leaving the cabin cooler can help.  In hot weather,
try to use only as much air-conditioning as you really need.

	A word about other drivers

We live in a society that has learned a very competitive attitude
toward driving, mostly fostered by the automotive industry's
unwavering dedication to promoting way more speed and power than
anyone needs for normal transportation.  All automakers are guilty of
this, even the ones that produce efficient cars.  And it is entirely
misplaced in these times that demand more frugal use of resources.
There are some appropriate times and places for performance driving,
but they are NOT among normal traffic on the public roads.

A little perspective -- nobody expects neck-snapping acceleration
from a TRUCK, for instance, and yet millions of trucks get to their
destinations on time every day without needing any sort of "spirited"
driving.  It is a greater challenge to keep the long-range view and
be both predictive and predictable on the road, than it is to simply
mash a pedal to fly toward the next red light.  The overall difference
in travel time between the styles is miniscule to zero, and gentler
driving has so many savings and safety benefits.

As the pushy, impatient drivers see more people around them driving
for MPG rather than race-car performance, they may begin to learn
that there's a better way, but it won't happen overnight.  In the
meantime, moderate drivers must coexist with aggressive drivers as
best as possible on the roads.  So if you're driving to save fuel,
you must remain keenly aware of what is behind you as well as in
front and adapt to those conditions.  If you are tracking the speed
of leading traffic (at a respectful distance, of course) and observing
posted speed limits, NOBODY can claim that you're "driving too
slowly" or blocking the road.  If you can find a safe way to let the
aggressive tailgaters pass and blast ahead, let them do so but not in
a way that impedes your own progress or safety.  They have NO right
to intimidate other drivers on the roads that they must share too.

Change starts locally.  Give your friends some of the basic hints.
Tell them how you've improved your own MPG and lowered your stress
level, and if they get off that phone and pay attention and back off,
they can immediately have the same benefits too.  They'll eventually
thank you from the bottom of their wallets, especially when they
realize that they CAN afford that efficient hybrid after all.

this file is

_H* 060919