I’ve been playing a new game! It’s the Gas Costs a Friggin Lot of Money So I’m Going To Be More Conservative While I Drive Game, or, for short, The Gas Game. Now, I drive a manual trans ’89 Toyota Corolla. I bought it almost ten years ago and I love it. My car’s claim to fame is that it’s the same car that Matthew Perry drove in The Whole Nine Yards, well not the exact one, it’s just same kind. Don’t get me wrong, would I take a new car if Bob Barker handed me one? Sure! However, the corolla has been paid off for years now and has never dissed me, so I’m attached (not that attached, I never lock it.) Lately I’ve been even more grateful for my little gray four door’d friend. No, it’s not the tape-deck or the fast heater; it’s the 13 gallon gas tank.
Many is the time that I’ve watched the 10,000 pound Excursion parked opposite of my fill-up station run up those gas numbers to infinity. It makes me laugh. Oh you SUV drivers! Are you regretting it yet? Also, my car is better off-road than yours is. Still, even these days I’m beginning to sweat it. I have to fill up every three weeks and it’s costing me about 30.00 each time. This may not equal the GNP of Costa Rica that the Sequoia owner has to pay, but since I’m cheap, it bothers me none the less.
So, how do you play The Gas Game? It’s pretty easy, there are three rules: Don’t floor it, go the speed limit, and try not to brake. Braking means that you’re wasting gas, you’re spending energy to go fast and then spending more energy to slow down; it’s the definition of inefficiency. If you drove a car that showed you how much gas mileage you were getting you’d see your gas mileage to go down to 2 mpg when flooring it up the hill and literally 10,000 mpg while coasting down a hill.
You will save so much gas if you avoid braking. You need to be totally aware of the lights and their timing in your area. Once you start this game you can start counting how long it takes for the light to go to red from when the Don’t Walk starts flashing. Note landmarks around you. For instance, there’s a light on University Ave. between 4800 N. and 3750 N. The Don’t Walk sign will flash 13 times and then turn yellow. Heading South, if you don’t pass the water main by the time the Don’t Walk sign starts flashing, you will NOT make the light, so stop going 60 mph trying to get to it. If you lay off the gas before the water main and start coasting to the light you can save all that gas PLUS you don’t have to stop completely and waste all that gas to get back up to 60 mph. This will be unpopular with the other drivers. I know, because this kind of thing was unpopular with me. However, since we’re already in hoc to pay for September’s gas bill, I don’t care what’s unpopular. Get in the right lane and they can burn through 47 gallons passing you.
Here’s a fun one I found out: if you’re going 40 mph down Canyon Road passing Day’s Market, once you pass 2825 N. (the curve towards the fire station) you can coast until the 2230 N. light. I’m serious. You don’t need to touch your gas for more than half a mile. Awesome. I drive down Canyon Road these days just to NOT use my gas. This is a major lifestyle change for me because I am a race car driver. I love to go fast and to drive fast cars. If it’s small and goes vroom, I’ll be your girl. Any car I drive must be a manual, automatics are just wrong. I own four pairs of driving gloves. I’m serious. If gas and price were not a consideration, I would be driving a Vanquish.
The Gas Game is a challenge, but it’s worth it. If you need ideas on what to do with the money you save, ask Jenny Eckton. For those of you who asked, no, singing in your car has no effect on the gas mileage, so hit it Fantasia!