Friday, October 14, 2005

Driving Games

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!


Em's Steve said...

Hey fellow fastie! But I'm wondering, are you actuating the clutch when you're coasting? Because if you're not, all that engine braking is going to make for phantom savings...although it will make you feel racier. That's the reason I do it.

Emmie said...

My Steve is indeed a fellow fastie. We drove to Utah once in his dad's fancy gas-mileage-displaying car, and he took pictures of the display when it showed a particularly high number. He took these pictures while he was steering with his knees.

Bek said...

I know this game too.

I drive a hand me down SUV (it is 14 years old). It was free and that means we don't have a car payment. Gas is 3.24 in my town, so that means that it costs me 80.00 to fill up. Yes, 80!!

My new goal is to see if I can buy gas only once a month. That means Lauren had to quit gymnastic (too far away) and no more dates to the city or going to the really good mall in San Jose. I limit trips to the beach and pumpkin farms. This is the way it is going to be until we either get more money to pay for gas, or get more money to buy a new

Azúcar said...

I am actuating! Steve, you and I can be friends. Anyone who steers with their knees because they have to accomplish just one more thing, is awesome. I don't know why everyone is ragging on that driving chick in the United HealthCare commercial, that lady can multitask!

Yes Bek, no car payments are a good thing. The only thing more funny than owning an SUV is paying a $500 payment plus $100 in gas every month for the privledge. Every time I think we have bad gas prices I tack on the extra .70 cents the Bay Area is paying, and I feel better :)

Today at Old Navy I returned to my car to find a suburban had parkedsoclosetomycaricouldn'tevengetin. Since the driver was in the light truck still, I acted very dramatically. After putting Will in on the other side, I sidled up and looked very worried about how I was going to get in the driver's seat. I was inspired by OJ's pretend glove-trying-on. I had several choice sililoquies to deliver to the driver should he roll down his window, and then HE DID!

He said "I am SO SORRY, I APOLOGIZE, will you be able to get in OK?!" He was so nice I didn't even blast him. I mumbled, avoided eye contact, and got into my car. What's the matter with me!? Am i mellowing? 10 years ago I would have let him have it! I fear I've lost it. I've become too nice.

BowlerGirl said...

I like your version of the Gas Game so much better than mine! Since Hubby and I are forced to fill up the Suby at least every 4 days (I kid you not) my Gas Game goes a little like this....

There are no less than 13 gas stations between our house and work. Everyday I check the gas prices at the various stations so I know which one is the cheapest for the daily fill up.

For all of you intrigued, there will be an entire post all about this particular OCD habit of mine. There will also be other $$$$$ saving tactics that Hubby and I are willing to try this month.

Emmie said...

After reading your blog, Steve said:
"I dig a chick who rev matches." Since I had to ask him what that meant, I guess I've got some work to do.

tiff-fay-fay said...

No, you wouldn't take the car from Bob Barker because it would be a damn Ford Focus, and I simply cannot be friends with someone who drives a Ford.

Azúcar said...

I have thought about this extensively. A new car is a new car that can be sold to someone else. So, I would take the new Focus, or the Expedition they tried to give away this morning, and sell it. I could pay off some debt and maybe even buy a new car. Or more shoes.

I think a trip to CBS Television City is in order.

~j. said...

I'll go. "One dollar, Bob!"

Lianne said...

I paid $2.53 at Costco in Orem today and I thought I had won the lottery.

How sick is that?