Gas prices are up. Gas prices are down. We can barely keep up. The only thing we know for sure is that people love saving money and hate burning more fossil fuel than needed.
We have plenty of gas-saving tips on our Fuel Economy Guide. But we decided to take the money-saving (read: cheapskate) mindset one step further by asking some of our readers to pass on their favorite fuel-saving hoaxes, er, I mean real world-tested solutions. Here's the best of the bunch.
1. Call in sick.
I frequently tell my boss and ex-wife that I'm too sick to come to work or pick up the kids and therefore, I hardly use any gas. "I forgot" also works on my ex. She thinks I'm a real idiot, but I'm really saving the planet. — Milton Ransford, Port St. Lucie, Florida
2. Rid your car of excess weight.
By removing excess items like bags of cement, snow tires, suits of armor, battle axes, boat anchors and cannons used for Civil War reenactments, you'll make your car run more efficiently. I've also discovered that your car or truck will get much better fuel economy if you remove the doors, hood and trunk — it's all excess weight. — Adam Stepleton, Mobile, Alabama
3. Drive more moderately.
I like to anger other drivers by leaving stoplights very slowly. Freeway on-ramps are another good opportunity for getting back at... oh, I mean saving fuel. I also like to drive 2-5 mph below the speed limit on the highway; someone's got to teach these bastards a lesson. — Randy Jack, Redding, California
I live at the top of a large hill. In the morning I coast down the hill without even turning the engine over. Since the steering wheel is locked, I have to aim the car just to avoid hitting other cars or slow-moving pedestrians. So far, I'm up to 30 miles per gallon in my '87 Sierra Classic pickup. If you exclude the cost for minor bodywork, I'm easily saving $120 a year. — Sally Hansen, Clearwater, Florida
5. Engage in fewer high-speed pursuits.
Every time I used to see a cop car, I made a run for the border. Those Crown Vics are kinda fast once they get going, so I have to floor it just to put a little distance between me and them. This month I've been laying off the Red Bull, so I'm not so paranoid and don't hit the gas every time I see a cruiser. I've raised my mpg to 29 in my '90 Toyota Tercel EZ. You're not gonna use my last name are you? — Linda, Corpus Christi, Texas
6. Use Internet-advertised fuel-saving devices.
I kept getting e-mails (dozens, actually) from a nice lady named Mary Zhang. She said that if I purchased a magnetic FuelTAX product I could get up to 28 percent better fuel economy by aligning the molecules in the gas. Mary said that bad luck can hurt fuel economy, too, so I also had to forward an e-mail about angels to at least 10 people to ensure good luck. So far, it hasn't helped, but she says it takes time. I've been visiting her Web site daily and keep getting redirected to a site called "404." — Mrs. Winston, Coeur d' Alene, Idaho
7. Reduce drag.
Although it made my '87 Firebird look totally bitchin', I had to remove all the cool stuff like the rear window louvers, curb feelers, mud flaps, bra and two-tier spoiler. The reduced drag has bumped my mpg up to 19 miles per gallon on my way to and from laser tag and paintball meets. That's pretty good considering I have the potent Trans Am version of the Firebird. — Dwight Kurt Schrute III, Scranton, Pennsylvania (Check out my blog. Everyone should have a blog.)
8. Drive a hybrid.
Nothing is better than looking down my nose at other motorists as I whiz by in my gas-electric hybrid. Sure, I don't know where the batteries are built or if that process is harmful to the environment, and I'm not sure how they'll be disposed of, either. Whatever. Aren't those SUV owners just terrible? — Janet Astidious, Cupertino, California
9. Draft behind the space shuttle.
That baby cuts a wide swath through the air — enough to suck your Yukon right off its dubs. It may not take you where you want to go, but you'll get there in a hurry. And I hear the view is awesome. — Jim "Spaceman" Ullrich, Cocoa Beach, Florida