Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How to conserve fuel in the gas line

Its starting to look like “Massapequa Beyond Thunderdome” out there. While all of us in the Northeast are subject to long lines at the pump, we have to wonder how much gas we are burning sitting in the long lines at the pump. Here are the ways to maximize fuel efficiency while sitting in long lines.

But since there is so much variation in fuel saving tech in cars, my recommendation is you try different things, between being in gear and in park to see where the car idles at the lowest speed, based on looking at the Tachometer.

Don’t be on the brake and in Drive (D) -For most cars, when the drive gears are engaged, gas is being fed to the motor to propel the car forward. Keeping your foot on the brake wastes this into braking energy, which consumers more gas.Try it: let go of the brake, don’t touch the gas, and the car moves forward, using fuel.

You should be in Park (P) -  This consumes the least amount of gas while driving the alternator and necessary systems.

Don’t be in Neutral -  Most cars automatically detect when a car is idling and shut down the fuel injectors. This is unless the car in Neutral (N), and then the car will rev at a constant rate, as shifting the car into neutral disables the auto fuel cut-off. Additionally, when you are in Neutral, you stand the risk of rolling.

Shut it down: if you plan to sit for more than 3- 5 minutes at a time, shut down the motor. It is true that this does cause stress to the starter, but it’s a myth that it takes more gas to start a car. At this point the wear and tear might be worth the gas savings, but if you hear your starter making funny sounds like whirring or buzzing, avoid doing this.

Avoid running auxiliary systems, especially A/C  -  keep using the heat to a minimum, and make sure your A/C is off -  most modern defoggers automatically turn on the A/C, which eats gas, so make sure you check this. running things like radio and hazards lights are fine, but try and keep the heat blower to a minimum.

Start/Stop systems -  If you drive a newer car, odds are you might have a start/stop system in the car, which automatically stops the drive motor when sitting to save fuel. Check your vehicles documentation to see if your car has this system enabled. If this is the case, keep it in gear, and stay on the brake.

Tire pressure: Cold contracts air, reducing the amount of air pressure in your tires. For maximum fuel efficiency, have your tires filled to the recommended PSI, located inside your driver’s side door well.

Air Filter -  Have a clean one.
Source: Car and Driver magazine, http://goo.gl/QZpxl

Monday, November 5, 2012

Commuting with Sandy

It’s been a long time since I have written anything. Just too busy with work, doing the daily grind. But then along came Hurricane Sandy, and turned all of our worlds upside down in the Northeast. After seeing the devastation on the rest of the South Shore of LI, I feel that my family and I were lucky with minimal property damage and no injuries. A little preparation went a long way. Having no power was a slight inconvenience considering what others have gone through.

But now we are trying to bring our lives back to normal, which includes getting to work. The rest of the world has n0t stopped, so getting to and from the job and navigating Metro NY has challenges we need to be aware of.


First and foremost is the gas situation. Its bad, but we all saw it coming. The lines are a good 1-3 miles long in Nassau County, and from what I hear its getting bad in other places too. My friend in Dutchess County tells me they are now getting short on gas because all the Westchester people are flocking there for fuel. The best advice right now is to wait. People’s hoarder mentality takes over, so if you can restrict driving, do it. That gas is better served in someone generator keeping a family warm or for someone who doesn’t have the ability to telecommute. The situation should remedy itself in a few more days, but until then, sit tight. Take mass transit, car pool, and work from home.

But what if it doesn’t get better and the world gets all Mad Max on us? At that point, people are going to be looking to siphon gas, if they haven’t already, and you may have to defend. Most modern cars are secondary targets because the gas tank needs to be pried open. The best targets for stealing gas will also be SUV’s because of their larger thanks and higher ground clearance makes it easy to puncture a tank. So what can you do for defense?

To avoid being siphoned, it’s a team effort. You and someone you park near should park tank to tank, with not enough room to fit in between. For example, in a driveway, one car goes in forward, and the other backs in parallel within inches of the first car. Rear wheel to rear wheel, this should block any access to both tanks. One of you will likely have to crawl in your passenger side, but its better then being stuck on E. while of course this will not stop a determined thief, it will likely make them move on to easier targets.

Mass Transit

You know those images that come out of Japan, when trains are so full, they actually hire guys to get a running start and push people in to the cars? Well the LIRR will likely be looking to hire them soon. This morning, I took a 5:25 am LIRR train from Massapequa to Penn station. By the time the train hit the next stop, all of the cars were full. The conductor, who ironically sounded A LOT like Samuel L Jackson was telling people at every stop the train was full and no more passengers were being admitted. Of course, no one listened, and this makes the train late.  Even with limited service, Mass transit is still likely the best option for commuting if you can swing it. The lines are terrible, as are the crowds, but most of the trains are running. The Ferrys into Manhattan are also running, and Metro North is doing well.

But the best advice is to leave early, and travel off peak until the tunnels are pumped out and gas becomes available again.

Bridges and tunnels

If you need to commute, the bridges may be your only option as most of the lower tunnels are still flooded out. Listen to traffic reports for recent closures and maintenance. 


Good luck out there, and e smart, and be courteous.