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Jan 22

Gas Mileage Primer: Part 1

Times are hard. Money is tight. Today, we’ll show you how to get the best bang for the gallon by changes in maintenance, modifications, and most of all how you operate your car.
Ford Fiesta
With the high price of gas today a lot of people are putting up the fun car for a gas sipping daily driver. When looking for a cheap gas miser, there are a few things you want to check. Number one is weight. It takes more energy to move a heavy car than a light one. The crappy thing is the fact that there are few truly lightweight cars on the market today aside from the micro cars. This is due to crash standards.

The next thing you want to look at is the engine size and most importantly, torque production. Smaller engines use less gas, but this can get confusing, as torquey pushrod V-8s also get really good mileage with an overdrive and absurdly high rear gear ratios. Even today, a base model Corvette can get near 30 MPG highway. Try that line on your wife. “I’m buying a Vette for mileage, not because of a midlife crisis.” Anyways, the better the low-end torque production, the less throttle you have to use to get going or pull a hill. But make no mistake, a mid eighties Civic or Tercel, if in good shape, will return you 40 mpg or more.

The last thing is the transmission. Manuals are still the king for the miserly. But more important is the overdrive gear. Especially if your daily commute is spent on a highway. The overdrive helps reduce wear on your engine, making cars with over a hundred thousand miles less of a worry that in previous years.

Before I move on I want mention the new batch of diesel cars coming from Europe these days. Diesel engines make stupid amounts of torque; and it’s readily available right off idle. With a modern turbo four diesel making almost 300 ft/lbs, it’s a no-brainer that these are some of the most popular cars sold in Europe today with fuel prices there climbing close to nine dollars a gallon. Not only are they getting good mileage, but the new engines are tuned to be noise, vibration, and smoke free. You would never know you were driving a diesel unless you get into the throttle and feel the wave of torque push the car.

Next time I’m going to get into what modifications can increase the range of your commuter.

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  • Chris B.

    Well that does it. I’m going to buy an eighties Civic and swap in a turbo diesel V8 with long gearing. Thanks, Funkatron!