Is there a 'proper' way to wait 3 hours in line for gasoline at a gas station?

I am using Gas Buddy, Hurricane Sandy Edition to find a running gas station in NYC:

I found a local HESS station charging pre-Hurricane prices (actually, prices weren’t the reason why I chose it, it was just the closest one that has gas, I would’ve gladly paid more) of only 3.89 a gallon for regular. The line ran about 4 blocks and it moved very slowly, it would creep forward at a rate of 20 feet (a single cars’ length) at a time, every 5 minutes or so. People would start their car, inch forward, brake, then shut off their car again. I did that for a little while until I felt this uneasy naggy feeling that I was burning my starter out.

So, what I did was to pay attention to the angle of the road: on a slight decline, I put the car in neutral (engine off, of course) and just have it very slow glide along as the line moved. On a slight incline, I got out of the car and pushed it along. Sharp inclines/declines are less controllable, I’m not sure what I’d do then…

So, what do you think about this? Is this the ‘proper’ way? I notice no one else doing this… lol

This is not a question of proper or improper. It is a matter of being sensible vs. unimaginative. And there may have been other intelligent motorists doing something similar, at least we hope so. You were fortunate that your destination was downhill, lol!

Yes, I think that it was logical to do what the OP did, especially if the amount of gas in the tank was very low.

Post-hurricane, I did have to wait in a 2.5 hour waiting line for gas on one occasion, and I alternated between idling and shutting the car off periodically. When I came upon a driveway or side street that shouldn’t be blocked, I shut down the engine, simply because there were longer waits to clear those areas. When I was not in danger of blocking a street or a driveway, I kept the engine idling so that I could move a few feet every few minutes.

The only other helpful advice that I could give is:
Empty your bladder before waiting in one of those hours-long gas lines
Don’t drink coffee while waiting!

"Don't drink coffee while waiting!"

Do without coffee for three hours and not be asleep???!?

I’ve never had to go through what you’re going through but one would imagine tempers can flare easily. Maybe strike up a friendly conversation with people around you to pass the time.

I wonder how many people spent hours with their engine at idle burning more fuel than they could purchase?

I’ve been in a few 2+ hour fuel lines…but that was back in the 70’s.

One time when I got in line I had about 1 gallon of gas (at most). I turned the car off every time we stopped. I couldn’t risk running out of gas before I got there. And then when I finally got gas I was rationed 5 gallons. With the 67 Malibu SS and the 327 V8…that was just enough to get to the next service station.

I probably have the training to wait a long time in a gas line. We have a WallyMart with 25 checkout aisles and they only have 3-4 open even on the weekends. The self-checkout aisles are never open on the weekends.

‘Two issues: you have a 20 foot long car, and you pushed it when there is a perfectly good engine?’

20 foot is the approximately the distance all cars on the line travel when there is any movement at all (roughly every 10 minutes.) I was worried about burning out the starter actually…

I was worried about burning out the starter actually.

It may or may not damage the starter, but it is very possible that it will shorten it’s life.

Are you filling the maximin  fuel you can get on one trip?  Do you really need that trip?

 Have you started planning for the next storm, one that may be worse?

 BTW remember that gasoline has a shelf life after witch it may fail

My 2002 Sienna with 190,000 miles has original starter. Calculate how many times over 11 years that starter has started that motor. Waiting in line 3 hours with a start every few minutes would be nothing. Battery charge, that might be an issue.

I have to agree with irlandes, the battery is the bigger concern. You will only get so many starts on the battery before you have to let it idle for awhile to recharge. Be sure all lights and accessories are off during the recharge.

You have my sympathy. I’ve never had to really wait in line and usually never let the tank go below 1/2. Back in the 70’s when I had a 100 mile commute and odd even gas rationing, I used to keep a couple ten gallon cans of gas in the garage. Then it was all over. I would be concerned about the battery too. With no power to charge a battery, the last thing you want is a dead battery.

Good luck. Sounds like the problem is no power rather than a gas shortage.