How to lessen trips to the gas station

If only Krispy Kreme-fueled cars exist then a price hike won’t be such a burden.

Latest news has it that the possibility of a P60/liter unleaded gas price is high and we all know this is not good news. Not everyone knows, however, that there are more ways than one to beat this almost unstoppable fuel price hike. For example, parking the car longer than before – that is, use it less by carpooling or taking public transportation. Switching to more fuel-efficient cars such as newer models or the more expensive hybrids is also an option that other lucky individuals might have. Or lastly, and the most practical, is becoming more aware of things most of us used to ignore yet could actually affect how one can make fewer trips to the gas station. To achieve this last alternative, I now offer my top 5 tips to beat the fuel price hike:

The lesser pullback, the better. Whether one comes from a full stop or shifting gears from second to third, that feeling of being pulled back to the car seat during acceleration is a sign that the car (and driver) is exerting too much effort which translates to inefficient use of fuel. To avoid this, keep in mind the simple tip I’ve read years ago: imagine an egg is underneath the gas pedal – step on it as light possible as a centimeter-deep (or even less) depression of the gas pedal is already enough to pump gas necessary to keep the car rolling. Always remember that in daily commute, pedal to the metal isn’t the way to go.

 Don’t get squeezed. The exact opposite of acceleration is deceleration but the effect is somehow similar which is demonstrated during braking. Any driver has likely experienced that feeling of being squeezed by the seatbelt (assuming he wears one) after applying the brake hard. Hard stoppage means “aborted” use of fuel and this is because gas that was pumped into the engine’s cylinder is supposed to make the car travel at a particular distance and by braking hard the dispensed fuel’s purpose is suppressed and wasted–unless the car has KERS or Kinetic Energy Recovery System such as one that is used by Formula 1 cars and hybrid automobiles.

Avoid leaning hard sideways. Drivers executing a turn or maneuvering curved roads use a combination of the brake and gas pedal to control the car so both tip numbers 1 and 2 above apply in this scenario. In curved roads, the driver will experience countering centripetal force by leaning sideways at an apex. The harder one leans to one side, the likelihood of fuel wastage is high. To achieve a smoother drive, anticipating the curve is important as well as knowing when to brake and to accelerate. In normal condition, brake (as gently as possible) before entry to the curve (and/or switch to lower gear for better traction during the turn) and then accelerate upon exit.

Gravity is your friend (and foe). Navigating through a downhill is an opportunity to save gas as this is when it is less stressful to the engine. Be aware, however, that turning the engine off (or even coasting) is a big no- no – for most cars, a turned off engine means zero vacuum which in turn disables the brake master and power steering. Go figure. Going up is of course more demanding to the car’s power source and it would be helpful if its load is lessened. If possible, turn the air conditioner off when driving uphill.

Too cold isn’t cool. Speaking of air conditioners, one should use this wisely and sparingly when driving. A car that is too cold uses more fuel than it is supposed to be and that is why thermostats control knobs are there20 – lower the temperature whenever possible. One should also read their car owner’s manual to learn how the fan vents settings work to optimize the temperature inside the car especially if only the driver is inside.

The tips I have listed here, by the way, are with the assumption that the car is in good condition and keep in mind never to compromise safety over savings: ensure that car is maintained regularly, brake hard if needed, and follow the speed limits all the time. Drive safely everyone!


Mood: 6/10 Honks! (Writing to relieve the 2nd week of anxiety. Wifey still not well.)


Nearing Honda hybrid consumption


Honda Hybrid. (Image from the web.)

I read this news about a woman in California winning a case against the manufacturer of Honda Hybrid after her Japanese hybrid vehicle failed to meet the expected gas consumption of 21 kilometers per liter (50 mpg). According to the news Heather Peters received more than USD9,000 from Honda or around 400,000 in Philippine peso which is enough to buy a used Honda City like what I am currently using.

This article is so timely as I have just finished computing my January consumption and believe or not, our Honda City 2008 achieved the highest gas mileage I have ever recorded since I started the conscious effort to take note of my gas expenses and driving habits25. The first two months after August, I was able to prove that I am among the average Honda City owners who is at the 13 km/liter range but sooner or later I began getting favorable gas consumption. In October I reached 17 km/liter.

December 2011 and January 2012 data, however, are more encouraging. Despite the Christmas holiday traffic, my less aggressive driving style resulted to 18 km/liter — more distance covered with lesser trip to the gas station — which is just 3 kilometers short of the disputed Honda Hybrid figures. Yes, I know, the 50 mpg promised by Honda is for city driving which “if true” is about double of what non-hybrid cars (like mine) can achieve but apparently since there is a winner in this case against Honda, it just shows that there is still some sort of flaw in this expensive vehicle’s system (unless Honda got some incompetent lawyers like those in CJ Corona trial. Oppps, different topic. Sorry, cant’ help it).

And so with this latest milestone, I now face the challenge of breaking the new kilometer per liter record and perhaps prompt more Honda Hybrid owners to file more complaints once they read that another guy with a lowly Honda City somewhere in the Philippines comes close to the gas consumption they’re supposed to have with their brand new Honda Hybrid.


Trivia: In Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, one will spot a Honda City 2008 car swerving while Ethan Hunt gives change in the midst of a sand storm. This is just a few of the interesting scenes in this movie. Yes, just a few. Disappointing film.


Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Wifey and kiddo left me. They’ll be back. Hahaha.)

Drive Like a Miser

It seems that gas price hike will be here for quite a long while for reasons that the average person like me would never really know. There are so many factors that affect oil prices and some of which could be the Middle East’s peace and order situation; the US recession which until now Dubya hasn’t directly accepted to be happening; China’s sudden automotive demands as most Chinese got tired of riding bikes that sooner or later obesity will be as common as dumplings in this part of the world; and locally, we can blame our government for deregulating the oil companies—but this is debatable.

So while we are busy thinking who’s supposed to be blamed other than ourselves, it may be just right for us to start looking at the mirror and check if we’ve done our part to alleviate the effect of this situation which is going way out of our control. Some self-awareness check will not only save our pockets and wallets but we also get to save our sanity and most importantly, our environment.

Today while lazily surfing the web, my mouse led me to which has an article about 104 hypermiling / ecodriving tips. Surprisingly, I’ve been doing most of their tips already. So here are my own top 10 tips that others may learn and use as well.

  1. Drive less. Avoid driving if you can. Just think about the heavy traffic you’d encounter on your way and this should already convince you stay put at home and do something more productive with lesser carbon footprint.
  2. Track your fuel consumption. Take a conscious effort to track your fuel mileage. Our Honda City’s digital Trip A and Trip B meter is a big help when it comes to this. By the way, please, track your consumption once you get home or has stopped somewhere. You don’t want to run over pedestrians or other cars while fiddling with your calculator.
  3. Leave early and don’t rush. It’s funny but I’ve been thinking of doing this. Having a car makes most of us think that we can hit the snooze alarm a couple of times in the morning with the assurance that we can beat time to work by driving like a crazy Takuma Sato. I later realized that beating the clock—and the red light—is a No-Win situation: you get irritated because you expect everyone to rush just like you do, and you get to pump unnecessary gas in the process.

    Not Takuma.
  4. Note your transition points. Ecomodder says ”If you regularly travel the same roads, make a conscious effort to note (memorize) the points along the way where transitions occur that maximize efficiency.” Planning would allow you to identify where to safely coast (if I remember it right, I read that it is illegal to coast in some states in the US), anticipate turns and brake points. Lesser braking, more savings.
  5. Avoid drive-thrus. This is to avoid idling. Save on gas. Save on fast foods.
  6. Windows up. This is a no-brainer in the Philippines as spitting in our country is not a crime. Do I need to explain further? Hahaha. Just my compelling reason for driving windows up. Seriously, it has something to do with aerodynamics (or wind drag) which has an effect on the gas mileage. And of course back to that spitting issue.
  7. Heavy traffic: play the accordion. Ecomodder says ”If faced with worst-case “stop & crawl” traffic conditions, leave as much space ahead of you as possible and continually “accordion” that space to keep your vehicle moving near a constant speed while the cars in front of you stop & start. Yes, some people will cut into the space you create ahead of you. Deal with it. Note that this may aggravate following drivers who can’t absorb the big picture, and that must be taken into account.” Well, I’ll try to deal with it. No promises though.
  8. Minimize use of air conditioning. Ecomodder says ”Air conditioning requires a lot of power. Use it sparingly.” Once again, AC on or off, don’t forget to keep those windows up. Believe me, you’ll thank me for this tip once you get to drive here in the Philippines.
  9. Be smooth. I think I qualify as one. Just don’t ask the jeepney drivers I’ve honked at which brings me to my top 10.


10. Don’t keep up with the Joneses. Ecomodder says ”It [sic] easy to be competitive when Resist knee-jerk retaliation to other drivers’ aggressive actions. Don’t let other drivers lead you astray from your driving style.” Now this is more like a test of my character rather than a test to save gas. The pinoy Joneses are the hari ng kalsada (king of the roads) – your friendly jeepney/tricycle drivers. I guess I’ll be able to keep up with this tip if I leave home early to work.

There you go. Let’s save gas the rational way and please stop sending me emails to boycott the giant oil companies–it’s foolish, it’s temporary and it just won’t work.