Road Trip

Road Trip

Press releases are part of every journalist's life. Most of them get scanned or ditched. Once in a while, we put them aside for future reference. Really awful ones get forwarded around with snarky comments.

But occasionally there's good info in them. Here, for instance, are five very basic reminders of ways to maximize your gas mileage on that summer road trip (plus our comments):

- Pack light: Remove any unnecessary baggage from your vehicle. For every extra 100 pounds a car carries, its fuel economy is reduced by about 1-2%. A loaded roof rack can decrease a vehicle's fuel economy by 5%.

Our comment: Even better, leave a relative or two behind. Even one largish aunt is 2-4% of fuel economy, not to mention hours of aggravation.

- Avoid idling: Idling gets 0 miles per gallon. So try to avoid congested roads by travelling when fewer cars are on the road. Map out a backup route beforehand, and carry a GPS system to re-route quickly, if needed.

Our comment:  Best time to turn off your engine: when you're stuck at the crossing for one of those slow-moving freight trains with a zillion cars. Get the kids out, walk around, stretch, save gas.

- Apply pressure: Keep tires inflated to the proper pressure to improve gas mileage by 5% percent. Properly inflated tires also last longer, saving you money on replacement tires.

Our comment: Candidate Obama got endless crap for suggesting this, but if every American had properly inflated tires, it would save more gasoline than we'll get from increased offshore drilling. Truly.

- Tune up: Before hitting the road, get your car checked out. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its fuel economy by an average of 4%.

Our comment: This one's less important than it was back in the days of points and carburetors, now that computers run the electronic ignition and fuel injectors, but still not a bad idea.

- Observe the speed limit: For every 5 MPH driven over 60 MPH, a car's fuel economy can be reduced by 7-8%.* Driving within the speed limit can also spare you a costly ticket.

Our comment: Hate to say it, but this one's huge. If you have an instant mileage display, check it out: Watch the MPG number at 75 mph, then knock it down to 60 mph and watch the increase. Slow down, durnit!

We're grateful for these very sensible recommendations. The odd thing, though? They come to us courtesy of a press release from ExxonMobil. Which sells gasoline. Which, we presume, they want people to buy lots of.

Isn't that as ridiculous as cigarette companies paying for TV ads telling people, especially kids, not to use their product?

Oh, wait. The cigarette companies do pay for those ads.

Never mind.

map Alice Ramsey ride

map Alice Ramsey ride