Two items from the press

I just read an item online (presented through Yahoo News) that I just had to pass on. I really found an item earlier in the week in the USA today that I wanted to pass on but since it was more believable I did not, but now that I have a chance, you get both.

First item: I just read this about 5 minutes ago. Do you know that the reason a loose gas cap causes a “check engine” light is that the loose cap allows too much oxygen to mix with the fuel? I am not making this up this little gem. The information is in a story running today called “Things your mechanic won’t tell you”. We all know that the loose cap causes the car to fail a fuel tank leak detection test and allows fuel vapors to enter the atmosphere, something that is not good according to the Feds. (well everyone but that writer knows the real cause of a check engine light when the fuel cap is loose).

The second item is more believeable. Durning a meeting of 9 different representatives from the major automotive manufactures there was a concencus obtained in the belief that in order to sell more fuel efficient cars that fuel must be made more expensive, and if it takes more taxes on fuel to make it more expensive, then so be it. It was calmly related that it is tough selling fuel efficient cars to the great majority of people (OK we have the greenies out there)when fuel is cheap and making cars more fuel efficient is starting to cost more as all the easy ways have been exploited already. The story went on to say that the first increase in fuel standars will be easy to reach, it is meeting the next level of standards that are going to cost. All very believable too me.

I want technology to be used so as it is less expensive for me to get from point "A’ to point “B”. Here we have technology being used to justify more expensive fuel or you can look at it the other way around, more expensive fuel being the justification for more expensive technology.

The money saved from your car getting better mileage can pay for either the technology or the increased cost of the fuel, it can’t be stretched to pay for both.

I read the fuel tax story in a mid-week edition on the USA Today Business section. Please don’t pound on me for not giving a link, the story is out there. I get a paper copy of the USA Today (last person in the US to do so I think).

second story: Of course gasoline needs to be more expensive to get people to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles. Even though this report is new, the story is old. When gas was over $4/gal, people couldn’t buy small cars fast enough. The price of gas around me dropped as low as about $2.20/gal and is just less than $3/gal now. I think that SUV sales are still brisk after a short decline.

What struck me about the second story was the “matter of fact” style of presenting the idea of “in order for us to make the better mpg plan work, fuel must cost more and we support a hike in fuel taxes to achieve this pricing”. There was no hesitation in making this statement.

Why can’t technology be used to make it cheaper for me to get around?

Since there will be little (or no) actual cost saving realized by the customer with cars that get better mpg is the benift only realized in reducing the degree of dependence on foreign oil and lower CO2 emissions? These are great goals but how about helping me save some on transportation costs?

One good thing,Smart Car sales are in the dumpster. I say 'good thing" as I would hate for this to become the new standard in what the manufacture percieves what the public wants.

I read that story you referenced and it’s without a doubt one of the biggest piles of unadulterated crap I’ve ever read.
That’s a perfect example of why no one should believe any story put out there by a so-called journalist and the quotes by the alleged experts are just as big a pile of cow manure as the statements by the author.

If I have one regret it’s not saving a link I read a while back in which the Yahoo author tells people that they can easily install their home central A/C unit themselves.
That one was a real hoot!

f I have one regret it’s not saving a link I read a while back in which the Yahoo author tells people that they can easily install their home central A/C unit themselves.
That one was a real hoot!

Well I did.  In fact I installed central heat at the same time. My home was over 100 years old.  It really is not that difficult, IF you are handy and don't mind the work.  I don't recommend it for everyone. 

As for the story, I did not read it, but I would suggest that making fuel more expensive, via taxes, will increase the demand for more efficient cars.  It will also increase demand for alternative transportation and will reduce total transportation while encouraging the most efficient transportation.   [i] This is IMO the most fair way of handling the overall situation.  [/i]

Of course we need to look at where those tax dollars go.  It is a complex story.   That said, I believe that is about as much comment called for in Car Talk.

I agree, we really do need to keep the comments about “transflush vrs. drop and fill” comming,no reason to divert until that subject is throughly covered.

I thought that home A/C story was downright amazing. The author referenced “duck work”, blindly hacking holes through the wall without consideration of wiring being present, the running of “2 cooling tubes”, and tying in the wiring to whatever along with half a dozen other equally ridiculous comments.

A search for the author of that story revealed someone who does not fit the profile of an A/C expert to put it mildly, although I will not go into why lest any of that be misconstrued for several reasons.

How about the part here a loose gas cap caused the gasoline to get mixed with too much oxygen? Perhaps this stuff is printed so as that comments about the statement can be used to judge how many people read the article? in short they were trolling.

Technology has been used to make fuel mileage better across the board. Variable timing, auto cylinder shut down, hybrids, even auto engine shut down is available. But that serves to make big SUVs attractive. None of those address the issue of downsizing the national fleet. Another alternative is to make trucks subject to the gas guzzler tax, but that’s a one-time expense, and it really is not a huge addition to the cost (10%, maybe less). Adding another $1 or $2 to the price of gas directly addresses the issue of fleet mileage. It also deals with the issue of how to finance road maintenance. With increased gas mileage, tax receipts on gasoline have dropped. Maybe the reporter presented it as matter-of-fact because the issues are nothing new.

Yes, I caught that bit too. Pretty amazing stuff being posted. The sad part is that so many people will read that crap, will take it as the Gospel truth, and never be convinced afterwards of anything a shop tells them.

Adding more taxes COULD cause more people to drive smaller cars IF they could afford them.
If you’ve got a mother of 3 driving an old Suburban around because their parents felt bad for them not having a car and gave them their Suburban. If the mother can’t afford to buy a car herself, and is paying $50/week for gas as it is, how do they expect her to pay $100/week when adding more taxes? With so many out of work, how would they expect any of them to pay extra for fuel when they need to drive to an interview or grab an application from somewhere?

I see a disconnect from both business and government here. The Gov. doesn’t realize we don’t need regulation that adds to the cost of our daily commutes and business must realize they are pricing their product out of reach of many. Soon many will move into a “lost group” that even though employed at the same job that used to allow them to pay on a mortgage and pay (and eventually pay off) on a car loan these activites are not possible any more.

So you have a wife and two kids and you want to pay on a mortgage,pay on a car or two,have medical insurance,save for your kids college and save for a rainy day, better hope your before taxe income is at least 75K, trouble is lots of competition for those jobs. I never grossed over 46K and I have no idea how I would have paid for a wife and two kids and all they require on that. For me it is not that I used to be able to provide adaquately and now things are tight, it is things have always been tight,I have never had it any other way. I am training now for a better paying job but I will not get out of school until 2013 and then I will be 59 and you know the story after that (very little chance too make any money working for wages, my only hope is to discover or invent something).

There is a glaring editorial refuting the things said about raising the fuel tax.

This just goes to show you. You can’t believe everything you read. More so-called news agencies are blurring the line between fact and opinion, and reporting opinions as news. It makes for lousy reporting, but sells newspapers.

It has generally been proven that making fuel more expensive by taxing it will encourage people to conserve. It’s basic “supply and demand” economics. At higher prices, we demand less. However, basic economics also teaches us that raising taxes during a recession would be stupid, so I don’t think you have to worry about that happening.

The “money saved from your car getting better mileage” can be applied to anything you want. If you learn about Managerial Accounting, you will see that how you apply savings is up to you, and accountants can get quite creative in how they allot for costs and savings. For example, if you apply the savings from high fuel economy to the technology to get better fuel economy, you can account for the increased cost of fuel with the decreased demand for fuel at the higher price.

Sure it can be applied to whatever you want but it can’t pay the entire bill for everything you want. Point is there is only so much money to be saved from your car getting better mpg and if this finite amount is used up in paying for the higher cost of the fuel there is no money left to pay for the technology that allowed you to get better mpg, unless you introduce “new” money into the equation. For some people there is a shortage of new money these days.

The first article was written by a stupid person, for stupid people.
Technically, the article is correct:

A loose fuel cap does let too much fuel (vapor) mix with the oxygen (in the air), which is bad, so the CEL goes on to tell you your car is doing something bad, because you were too stupid to put the gas cap on tight enough.

The second article annoys me, but not because of the article.
What annoys me is that the people who hold all the cool new technologies that would improve emissions, reduce fuel consumption, and increase engine power won’t put the technologies in their vehicles, because it would slightly reduce their profits if they did so.

Lets take a look:

You have a Ford F-150 vs a Chevy Silverado.
lets equip each vehicle with exactly the same internal options, and the only difference is the actual fuel system on the engines. Lets say both V-8 engines are the same displacement, at 5.3 liters, for arguments sake.

Now, lets also say that the Silverado costs $1k more.
But for the extra $1k, you get 10 more mpg, 30 extra hp, and much cleaner emissions.

Well, for bulk sales, the Ford will win to the fleet purchasers.
For the cheap buyers, the Ford will win for the lower cost.
For the power and tech junkies, the Chevy will win.
The greenies won’t buy a truck, so that doesn’t matter much.

but, Chevy won’t risk losing sales to Ford, so won’t sell the cleaner, more powerful, more efficient engine, unless Ford sells it, too. The only loser is the customer, and the environment. As we know, the manufacturers don’t really care about those two. If they could sell a truck, legally, without any safety or emissions equipment, and make more profit on it than one with those things, they would, in a heartbeat.


WoW you are so wrong here. The light comes on because the car fails the tank pressurization test. The fault comes up as “minor leak detected” P0442.

There is a P0176 “Fuel Composition Sensor” I never saw that one come up but I fixed plenty of P0442’s by tightening the gas cap.

In your mind just what code would be set by the mixing of the fuel and the air in the tank? Remember the fuel is always exposed to some level of oxygen while in the tank.

Higher fuel economy doesn’t always come at a higher cost. A lot of the time lowering vehicle weight makes it cheaper and more fuel efficient at the same time. A small fuel efficient econobox is cheaper than a large SUV, isn’t it? Smaller fuel efficient engines are cheaper to produce than larger powerful engines. In my view, high fuel economy usually comes at a cheaper price than poor fuel economy. The technology that gives us better fuel economy, like EFI, four valves per cylinder instead of two, lighter materials, etc., don’t usually drive the cost of vehicles up that much, unless you are talking about carbon filter car bodies and hybrid engines, which, in my opinion, are usually cost prohibitive in terms of cost vs. reward and sound financial judgment.

Adding more taxes to gas will not necessarily reduce the price at the pump. The price at the pump is determined by supply and demand, not cost of raw materials (crude oil), taxes or cost to produce.

Now having said that, we have only a few oil companies controlling the market, so they control the demand, therefore the price. They can easily hold the government hostage by reducing the supply low enough to cause a price increase of a $1 gallon for a ten cent tax increase.

But the supply of gas is not going to increase in the future and the demand certainly will, so the price of gas is going to go up, taxes or no taxes. If there is a tax increase, and the tax money goes to building new roads and bridges, then I think we can all accept that as we will see what the money is going for. The money spent on the infrastructure will create more jobs, which in turn creates more tax revenues, which can create more jobs etc. Of course we know that the government will probably just squander it.

But if the taxes aren’t raised, then the oil company execs benefit and again we get nothing for our gas money.

An alternative to higher gas taxes might be a fuel economy tax on the vehicle. In many states, an annual tax is paid at vehicle license renewal based on the value of the vehicle. Instead of using this criteria, use the vehicles EPA gas mileage figures to determine the license fee, with better fuel economy getting lower fees.

Now there are people stuck with the older hand-me-down or whatever vehicles who could not afford this, so I would propose that the fee is applied for only the first 7 years of the vehicles life. If you can afford the new vehicle, you can afford the fee.

The point USA Today made is that some tax is OK, but huge increases are not. And it’s not clear that “a handful of pennies per gallon” will make up for the drop in gasoline tax revenue we get from the increased average fuel mileage in the USA. OTOH, I can hold 50 pennies in my hand… but I think they had less than 5 in mind. Paying for road repairs is becoming a serious issue. A gas tax is a user fee. Those who use the roads pay for road repairs. Those who don’t, pay indirectly in that the commercial drivers need to get paid for their tax increase. If gasoline taxes don’t pay for road repairs, how will they be paid for?