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Environment Matters Podcast

Topic: Do gas mileage gadgets really work?
Date: July 25, 2008
Time: 5:36
Size: 5,260k

 

(car noises, horns honking etc.)

Joan Schafer                With gas prices sky high this summer, drivers are looking for                                              
                                    anything that will help them get more miles to the gallon.

 

(opening music)

                                    Hi, I’m Joan Schafer of the U.S. Environmental Protection             

                                    Agency’s Mid-Atlantic region, and welcome to Environment

                                    Matters…our new series of podcasts.
           

                                    There are a lot of gadgets on the market today that promise better

                                    fuel economy.  But are they worth the money? Will they do what

                                    the ads promise?  What can we really do to improve fuel economy

                                    and stretch our gasoline dollars?

           
                                    EPA’s Brian Rehn says drivers should approach such                                              
                                    fuel-saving devices and fuel additives with caution.

 

Brian Rehn:                 Drivers want to find a device that will, at a low cost, help them

                                    to reduce their gasoline usage especially with the steep increase in

                                    the price of gas and the greater reliance on foreign imports to

                                    support our growing oil dependence.  There are quite a few

                                    products being sold now…fuel line magnets, chemical additives,

                                    ionizers, inline flow fans, air disturbers.  There are such things as

                                    additives that you can dump in the tank that supposedly will stretch

                                    your mileage, and some even claim to be able to run the car on

                                    water.  But the truth of the matter is, EPA has tested over a

                                    hundred of such devices and in general they don't meet the

                                    manufacturer’s claims of improved fuel economy.  In general, if it

                                    sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  EPA maintains a list of

                                    such devices here on our website at www.epa.gov.

 

Joan Schafer:               Some of these devices are very inexpensive but there are others
                                   
                                    that have to be installed by an auto mechanic – which could cost

                                    several hundreds of dollars.

                       
                                    Brian, what steps can drivers take to really improve their gas                                               
                                    mileage?

 

Brian Rehn:                 The best advice I can give is…drive efficiently.  Speeding and

                                    aggressive acceleration, running up on traffic lights, hard use of the

                                    brakes, these all can lower gas mileage by up to a third.   I suggest

                                    that you drive as though there’s an egg under the accelerator and

                                    you don’t want to break it.   Use your brakes judiciously, gently

                                    slowing down well before you expect the need to stop.  Another

                                    obvious tip is simply slow down.  Gas mileage decreases rapidly at

                                    speeds above 60 miles an hour.  In fact, you can assume that for

                                    every five miles an hour you drive over 60 you're paying 30

                                    cents a gallon extra for your gas.  Also, try traveling lightly.  Take

                                    anything out that’s weighing it down.  An extra 100 pounds of

                                    weight could reduce your mileage by upwards of two percent. 

                                    Also, if your car has a roof-mounted rack or box take it off when

                                    you're not using it.  It's a drag-on fuel economy.  Finally, avoid

                                    extended periods of idling.  If you're parked waiting for someone

                                    for more than a minute, in general, it pays to shut off the vehicle. 

                                    Also, cars today don't need to warm up their engine and the

                                    climate-control systems in a modern car can heat or cool it fairly

                                    quickly after start up. 

 

Joan Schafer:               Would it help my gas mileage if I took my car in for a tune-up?

 

Brian Rehn:                 Absolutely.  Keeping your car well-maintained is always a good

                                    idea.  Replacing a clogged air filter alone can help the car breathe

                                    and increase your fuel economy by upwards of 10 percent.  A full

                                    tune up is even better.  Change the oil according to the schedule in

                                    the car's owner manual and be sure to use the correct oil viscosity

                                    and grade per the owner's manual.  Look for a label in the oil that

                                    says energy-conserving.  That means that the oil contains friction-

                                    reducing additives to improve fuel economy.  Finally, don't forget

                                    to check the air pressure in your tires.  It might seem like a small

                                    thing but low tire pressure means tires wear faster and adds drag on

                                    the car.  Finally, buy the minimum octane grade of gasoline that

                                    meets the level stated in the owner's manual.  Higher octane is

                                    wasted on a car that doesn't need it.  It's like flushing dollars down

                                    the drain.

 

Joan Schafer:               With the gas prices we're seeing today, a lot of people are out

                                    looking to purchase a new car.  Is there any advice you can give

                                    these folks?

 

Brian Rehn:                 Yes.  Fuel economy has become a priority for today's shoppers

                                    when it hasn't been in the past.  If you only haul a few things,

                                    infrequently, consider buying a smaller car instead of a truck and

                                    renting a truck on those odd occasions when you need one.  The

                                    difference between a car that gets 30 miles per gallon versus one

                                    that gets 20 miles per gallon adds up to a savings of upwards of

                                    $1,000 a year. 

 

Joan Schafer:               You've given us some great ideas on making the best use of our car

                                    and gasoline.  Do you have any suggestions, however, on getting

                                    us out of a car altogether? 

 

Brian Rehn:                 The most important one would be to consider using mass transit if

                                    it's available in your area.  If telecommuniting or compressed work

                                    weeks are an option at your workplace, talk to your employer about

                                    taking advantage of them.  This eliminates your commute entirely

                                    on one or more days of the week.  Also, if you have a long

                                    commute look into carpooling as an option.  You can search the

                                    internet for carpool message boards if you're having trouble

                                    finding someone going where you're going.  In addition to saving

                                    gas, these measures not only help the environment but reduce wear

                                    and tear and depreciation on your car.  They can even lower your

                                    insurance rate and as an added benefit reduce your stress levels

                                    from driving in traffic.  And one last thing, it also helps the
           
                                    environment. 

 

Joan Schafer:               Since we're talking about high gas prices, let me remind you that EPA

                                    advises…don’t top off your gas tank.  The gas nozzle

                                    automatically clicks off when your gas tank is full.  Any additional

                                    gas you try to pump into your tank may never make it into the

                                    tank, even though you’ve paid for it.  If you'd like more

                                    information on this topic, please refer to the joint EPA and

                                    Department of Energy website - fueleconomy.gov (gov) or visit the

                                    Green Vehicle Guide on EPA's website - epa.gov.

                                    Thanks for joining us on Environment Matters, our news series of   
                                    podcasts.

(car noises, horns honking etc.)

(closing music)

 


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