Commenting on fuel prices

Hello Car Talk,I’m a Canadian living in Geneva, Switzerland. I drive a Ford C-Max (2015?) that has all the bells and whistles, and I love it. With the current geopolitical reality in Europe, gas prices have jumped and filling the tank is extremely expensive (small detail, my car uses diesel). In order to reduce my gas consumption I have started doing the following… please let me know which ones make sense: 1) told my kids they can walk home :slight_smile: 2) I drive the speed limit (50 km/hr) 3) I have stopped using the seat heater, steering wheel heater, and heat in general. I realise these are not revolutionary acts, but just drops in the bucket. But diesel drops none-the-less. Thanks and I love your show (even though I care very little about cars), Liz

Do you realize the shows are reruns ? The original production stopped in 2012 .
The seat heater has almost zero effect on your fuel usage . Do a web search for Hypermiling and see if any of those practices can help you ( some of them are foolish , dangerous or both ) .
Just eliminate short trips will do the most for you.

You can use the heater for the car, since that is all waste heat produced by the engine, and it must go somewhere. Do it with the fan off if you want to be anal.

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Most of your remedies are so insignificant you’ll never notice a change. The biggest and best impact you’ll have is driving habits. Less driving, slowing down sooner when stopping, speeding up slower when taking off.

1 and 2 will help, 3 won’t make a noticeable difference.


Might check your tire pressure. Low tire pressure will make your mileage go down a wee bit, tire pressure needs to be checked regularly anyway.


Everyone should walk more, that’s a good idea. The children can walk together or you/your husband can walk with them. Whether 50 KPH helps is more a matter of the RPMs at 50 vs whatever you normally drive. Use the seat heaters. It’s 35 below until June in Switzerland. :wink:

I have this problem in spades b/c my state (I live in San Jose, CA) – for bizarre reasons related to the pandemic and completely lacking common sense imo – insists I drive my 15 mpg truck w/no cat rather than my prior daily-driver, a 38 mpg cat-equipped Corolla. My solution is shrug my shoulders & just drive as little as possible. For example I used to routinely drive to San Francisco & various spots along the Peninsula for dining out etc. Several times a week. After my Corolla got banned from the road, now I just buy my food at the nearby grocery store and cook it at home. I’m still eating plenty of good food of course. The local area businesses are who are forced to suffer.

As far as OP’s specific query, suggest to have a family Pow Wow, focussing on how to try to limit the number of car-trips you make, & generally cut the number of miles you drive, rather than quibble about what accessories you use while driving. Avoiding high speed driving (over 55 mph) is very helpful as well, as the frictional force holding the car back increases very rapidly the faster you go above 55 mph.

Another tactic I used was to switch from Mt Biking for exercise to instead riding a bike equipped for about-town use, and running errands that way when possible rather than driving. For example I needed a set of electric-motor brushes to repair my Dremmel tool, and instead of driving to Home Depot (& which would be unsafe to cycle b/c of its location), instead I rode my bicycle to a more bicycle-friendly Ace Hardware location.

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Today I switched on the front seat heaters in a luxury car and measured the draw, 20 amps, not an excessive power robbing accessory but more than twice the draw of the headlights.

A four-cylinder diesel engine will take 10 miles before “waste heat” is developed, it is well known that with gasoline and diesel engines fuel economy is significantly reduced during the first few miles of driving. To drain heat from the engine during warm-up will reduce fuel economy. If the temperature gauge has not reached the “normal” range, the engine has no waste heat.

I am a cheapskate; I don’t use the heater during the first 3 miles of driving.

Why is your Corolla banned?

Bing says “gov”, but not true simply recommendations for the IEA (International Energery Agency), “car free Sundays”, to reduce the global demand for oil. The IEA has other suggestions that would be unpopular in the USA, like reducing speed limits on highways.
Absolutely nothing to do with reducing church attendance.

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Just going from memory, I think George’s Corolla needs some repairs to it’s emission system, because of that his registration has lapsed. Hopefully George will explain further.

Well that’s not the state banning George’s car, that’s George banning his car from the state! :smiley:


George always has advice for people so why can’t he solve this problem of his ?

That is so funny! I still laugh when I think that I had no clue I have been listening to reruns for years. And thanks for the answers too. Nice to put the heaters back on.


Corolla’s due date for re-registration was April 2020. Right smack dab in the initial Covid shut-down period. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, nobody was even allowed to leave their house except to go for a neighborhood exercise walk. Driving was allowed only for absolute needs, food, health care etc. Unfortunately Calif still required the car to pass an emissions test. Not that much of a problem for OBD II cars, as the test is done just using the OBD II data port. But for this Corolla of OBD I vintage, that means they have to drive the car on a treadmill with an exhaust gas meter in the tailpipe; i.e. the testing tech gets inside the car and drives it. This testing usually has to be repeated, so the tech is inside the car 20 minutes or more. At which point then I’m supposed to get in the possibly Covid contaminated car and drive it away??? I don’t think so. Given I’m a geezer and that’s a high Covid risk category, and the car had always passed prior emissions testing, I politely asked the Calif DMV if they’d defer the emissions test for a year? “No.” Next I asked my state assembly representative for what seemed like common sense assistance. At least they offered the courtesy of a reply, saying “Sorry, to get it registered the DMV says you have to take it to the emissions shop and get the test done.” Next I asked my state senator and the county health agency. No response at all. Since my 50 year old truck is registered and doesn’t require emissions testing, the simple work-a-round was just to take the Corolla off the road and drive the truck as my daily driver instead. I know it sounds crazy for a so-called “environmental state” to force a resident to drive a 50 year old 15 mpg truck rather than their 38 mpg Corolla; but that’s the way the cookie crumbles I guess here in California.

You might ask why I haven’t taken it in since, between Covid spikes? Good question. The DMV’s rules are apparently that if you don’t do the emissions testing when it is first due, it becomes very difficult to do it later. First off they just won’t send the paperwork you need. If you want the paperwork, who the heck knows what you have to do … but it likely involves 4 or 5 hours on the phone & a very high fine, as much as $1000 I’d guess. The 50 year old 15 mpg truck w/no cat runs fine, does the job, so it remains my daily driver. The low-emissions fuel-injected Corolla with cat remains parked inside the garage, except for occasional idling runs in the driveway to keep everything lubed. I’ve been sending a $20 check for the PNO (Planned no operation status) to the DMV every year of the pandemic, but so far never got any paperwork back.

Oh, get this, the state assembly representative said “And you can always get somebody else to take the car for testing for you”. I wondering who that would be??? That want me to ask a friend or neighbor to risk their life so I don’t have to? I don’t see that happening anytime soon. It’s a crazy world, eh?

That’s been my experience. I tried slow acceleration and my mpg’s actually went down slightly. Drive as if your car has no brakes and not only do your mpg’s go up, but your brakes go a long way before brake jobs as well. I’ve got a quarter of a million miles on my car and I’m still on the original front brake pads.
Aggressive drivers don’t get bad gas mileage because they are accelerating wrong, they get bad gas mileage because they are accelerating all the time, usually towards red lights.
Now most people do experience a gain in gas mileage when they start to accelerate super slow, but it’s mostly due to the fact that when you limit your acceleration, you start to value the car’s precious momentum and you start to avoid throwing it away needlessly which means you have to accelerate again, also it dramatically reduces the average speed of your trip.
Driving an 18-wheeler will also train you to treat your momentum as being precious. Don’t look now, but that slow 18-wheeler that you zoomed around just passed you again as you are sitting behind gridlock traffic going zero miles per hour.

Well, I’m a very honest person but there comes a time . . . San Francisco you say? Park it on the street. It won’t last long and you’ll be done with it.

People here argued with me when we were under similar stay at home orders. Leave your home you look out for police just like a kid without a license. Heck of a deal.

Here in WI 2/3 of the emission places stopped testing, still had to get it done. Sure I mind waiting in a line of 5 cars for one of the few places doing emission testing.

Doubtful, but if you live in San Fran why are you @George_San_Jose1 , Used to live near Post and Polk