Saturday, October 24, 2009


Here's a coupon, good for a 17% discount on all the gas you ever buy. It's good at every gas station on Earth. It's quite convenient. You don't have to show it to the gas station attendant. Since you keep it, you can reuse it forever. And you can use it even if you pay at the pump with a credit card. Did i mention that it's good for 17%? The coupon is free. Here it is:

But, i'm willing to bet that you won't use it. Here's how it works. Here in Michigan, the speed limit is 70 MPH (112 KPH). It's legal to drive at 62 MPH (100 KPH), but what people do is drive 75 or 80 (120 to 130 KPH), risking a speeding ticket. But i drive at 62 MPH. That's because there's a handy 100 KPH marking on my speedometer pointing straight up. And, my measurements show that the difference in fuel economy between driving at 70 MPH and 62 MPH is 17%. I ran these tests on four very different cars.

But you may find that you can't do it. There's a problem of the very worst kind. It's psychological. Despite the fact that in Michigan, trucks are never allowed to exceed 60 MPH, if you drive at 62, everyone passes you. I pass someone on the highway about once a month or less. So what i mean is, everyone passes you. And most people can't stand it. I drive my passengers crazy. You'll think that the other guy is "getting" something that you're not. They are. A higher gas bill.

My commute is 43 miles each way. It's almost all on the highway. If i could go 70 MPH, it would take 36.9 minutes to get to work. And at 62 MPH, it would take 41.6 minutes. So, 62 MPH is 4.7 minutes slower, right? Wrong. My record time is 56 minutes. I think of it as an hour, or an hour and a half if traffic is bad. But what i really mean is that traffic is always bad. But sometimes it's horrendous. So you might think that it takes five minutes longer, but the effect is not measurable. Except at the gas pump. I fill up less often, saving money and time.

I trained myself to drive at 62 MPH with my previous car. My Mazda has a cruise control. I'd set it for 62, and sit back and relax. I'd listen to some tunes, or a prerecorded radio show i'd downloaded from the web. It was really nice. I'm going slower, so i have the right of way. Everyone who wants to go faster must go around me. I don't have to disengage the cruise until i get where i'm going. Well, maybe sometimes. Like in Detroit where i have to take an exit just to stay on i75. Or in Troy, where despite four lanes, there's not enough room for all the cars. But now i'm trained, and that's that.

You can go to the Governator's web site and learn all about Eco Driving. You can buy expensive easy rolling tires and get maybe 2% fuel economy improvement. Or, you can go a bit slower - which costs you nothing - and get 17%. The coupon never expires. But there's no reason not to start today.

Friday, October 23, 2009


The other day, the phone rang. It was a sales call. I call it phone spam.

"Our records show that you do not have an extended warranty on your Saturn."

Interesting. I own a Saturn. It is true that there is no extended warranty on it. But I didn't buy it in Michigan. It's never been in the shop. So what records are these? Either the Department of Motor Vehicles sold or gave out this information, or my insurance company did. I have a good insurance company. They didn't do it. I'm liking my government less now.

"How many miles do you have on your car?"

I decided to tell the truth. It turned out to be the right answer, and it would have been even if it was a lie. So i said, "Two hundred and fifty one thousand".


"You aren't eligible for our extended warranty."

And that was that. They won't be calling back. I have a car that is in excellent condition and which is rock solid reliable. It gets great gas mileage, nearly 44 MPG, lifetime average. And they won't sell me a warranty that they'd push down anyone else's throat if they could. In the summer of 2008, it's Blue Book value went up by $2000, despite my having driven it an additional 70,000 miles. That's because gas prices went to $4 a gallon. Well, gas prices are going up again. I have a car whose value is increasing with age. It's been to the Moon (238,000), and it's showing every indication that it will make it back to Earth.