This morning, the radio goes off and I am trying to wake up, and American Public Media's Marketplace is giving me every reason to stay back in bed, if not in fact, just kill myself out of the sheer futility of it all.
The article in question? Well, the price of gas has shot up in recent weeks (Imagine that! Never happened before in my lifetime!) so they send out a reporter to talk to a gas station attendant on how to "Save on gas".
Her tips? Put air in your tires. "We'll use this device to check the air pressure" she says. Device? You mean a 99-cent tire gauge? No mention of where and how to find out what is the proper pressure for the front and rear of your car (they are usually different, and the answer is either the driver's side doorjamb sticker or your owner's manual)
The next tip? Drive more slowly, but "no one does that anyway, tee-hee, giggle-giggle!" Oh girls are just so dumb! Ha-ha!
But I think we've heard that advice before:
Miss Daisy: I like to go under the speed limit…The slower you go, the more you save on gas. My Husband taught me that!
Actually speed isn't the issue, except at highway speeds, where wind resistance is a major factor. If you can stay within the speed limit and drive at a constant speed, and not be accelerating and decelerating all the time, your gas mileage can increase dramatically. Dodging around at 80 mph, darting in and out of traffic and slamming on your brakes and then accelerating can double or triple your fuel consumption easily.
The rest of the article is outrageously stupid. She suggests using 91 Octane gas because it is "filtered" and may get you better mileage. Uh, no, actually. Use the grade recommended. Higher octane than recommended does not provide better horsepower or mileage. Lower octane than recommended will make less power and trigger your knock sensor. Octane is all about knock, or pre-ignition. And that is how it was calculated, originally, in an "octane engine" with variable compression - where the fuel would be burned and the compression ratio slowly increased until knock occurred. But I digress.
Other idiotic suggestions? Waxing your car will lower wind resistance! Theoretically, yes, in reality, by such an infinitesimal amount as to not be even measurable. This is just stupid unconventional advice designed to "gee whiz" the plebes. If you are driving an SUV, waxing it isn't going to give you even a 0.1 mph improvement. Not driving a brick through the wind, will. Drive a smaller, lower vehicle.
The best advice was not mentioned - accelerate gently, anticipate stops (slow down gradually). Acceleration is where your car uses gas, and when you floor it off the line, only to slam on the brakes at the next light or stop sign, you can easily double your gas consumption around town.
But the worst thing about the article? Why is this NEWS? I have been through one gas "crises" after another, since the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973. And yea, every time since, when gas goes up ten cents a gallon, some yahoo from a local TeeVee station goes out and stands in front of a gas station and tells us to put air in our tires.
So here we are in 2012, doing the same thing. Air in the tires. Check. Got it. Back in '73, '79, '85, '98, '05 and now 2012.
Forty freaking years, and we've been treated to this "story" - and no doubt people were hammered with it back during the war, and judging from Miss Daisy's quote, before then.
This ain't news, people. It is bullshit. The few pieces of good information are of the "well, duh!" variety, and the rest is just made-up crap - wax your car to save gas? Be serious!
But, wait for it. Today at the watercooler, Joe Blowhard will bend your ear about how he heard on the radio that waxing your car will save on gas! Innnit that neat! Never saw that coming, eh?
And this weekend, millions of clueless yuppies will go out and buy a bottle of Zymol and attempt to wipe it on the etched and sun-faded paint of their old Volvo wagon, which they have left outside since day one, because their garage is full of boxes of valuable "things" (actually crap) and when they get frustrated trying to buff that crap out (which it won't because the paint already has the texture of 150-grit sandpaper, and Zymol is shit) they will give up.
Thank you, Marketplace, for more cutting-edge reporting! I don't know how I could stay informed without American Public Media.....