Monday, April 27, 2009

As Mr. Spock would say...

Ya'll remember this picture, right? It's my rental car to drive around until May 13th, which is when the insurance company and the body shop seem to think my own car will be ready.

As you know, it's taken me a long time to find a car I love - and I definitely do not love this rental car. It's very low to the ground (hello? I can see over it without standing on my toes - that's low!), and rather... ahem, economical in its appearance inside and out. In fact, it's terribly generic. Silver. Four-door Sedan. Nothing distinguishes this car from any of the seemingly millions of other cars out there just like it.

I have to use the panic button on the remote to find the darn thing in a parking lot. Once I pressed the button and I was standing right next to it.

Yesterday, I was sitting at a stoplight just waiting for it to change, when I noticed that this car doesn't have cruise control. How very odd for a rental. I checked the wiper stalk and the steering wheel. Nada.

Well, not quite. There were two buttons on the steering wheel where the cruise buttons ought to be. One says "info" and the other has what looks like an ENTER button from a computer.

Curiosity got the better of me and I pushed the info button. The CHANGE OIL SOON message that's been in the odometer area since I picked up the car changed to air pressure readings in the front wheels (cool!). Another push got me back wheel pressure. Then came outside air temperature and mileage (I was wondering), coolant temperature, oil life (0%), miles left in the tank (272 - I'd filled up the day before), average mpg, and then mpg inst.

What the heck is mpg inst? The light turned green and I forgot about the readouts and headed home.

This morning, I started pushing buttons again and discovered that mpg inst is the instant miles per gallon - affected by whatever it is you are doing at the time. I am a "conservative driver" so I watched what all of my actions behind the wheel did to the mpg. Accelerating gently from a stop dropped me down to 3 or 4 mpg. Driving along at 35-40 miles per hour with little pressure on the accelerator had me at 29 (the average mpg, by the way). But I also found that coasting could get me up to 56 mpg and coasting downhill got me to 99mpg! I was amazed at how much a difference it made between fast and slow, coasting, braking or accelerating (I do not jackrabbit).

I also run the AC on low (it is allergy season!), but if I turned it up the mileage went down.

And I thought to myself how differently people would drive if they all had this information in their hands. This was a "standard" car - not a compact or economy model. Imagine what I could do with an even smaller, lighter car and a stick shift!

But the big oil companies can bank on lots of people driving like idiots so they don't have to worry about a dwindling demand for their product. Too many people get their jollies from flooring it at a stopsign, speeding through traffic and slamming on their brakes at the last minute. The kids around here think it makes them look cool.

But wouldn't it be cooler to have a fatter wallet than to leave skid marks on the pavement?

I agree, Mr. Spock. I agree.


margaret (the misanthrope) said...

Fascinating indeed! Heehee, when I saw that this post was going to be about your car (mis)adventures, I put that and Mr. Spock together in my mind and started looking for instances of logic (or lack thereof, since we're talking about cars and insurance).

I drive a 1996 sedan and I am just blown away by the number of bells and whistles that newer cars come with. I hope you get your "baby" back from the shop soon!

karisma said...

OK the only part I understood about his post was Spock, I have no idea about cars, I don't drive!

Liane Michel said...

As you know, I downsized to a Honda Civic 5-speed last year when gas was over $4.00/gallon. It took awhile to adjust to the size because it was so much smaller than my Jeep Grand Cherokee and took a few weeks to get used to driving that low to the ground. But it was so worth it. I get incredible gas mileage, I get to drive a stick again (which I love). I guess the only down-sides are that the car is so low (small) that it's hard to back out of parking spaces when surrounded by humongous SUVs and over-sized trucks and that it is certainly very generic looking (I never realized how many Civics there where until I got mine!). But aside from that, I have no regrets... and I don't miss my generic looking SUV one bit!

nikki said...

Mr. Spock kicks butt!

Janis said...

Its amazing the energy we could save if folks would pay attention to little things. I am all about saving energy, more money in my pocket.

Bobbie Leigh said...

LOL! That was great! I don't know shit about cars, I just like driving fast and messing with the buttons.

Sandcastle Momma said...

I love the gas mileage feature! I tend to have a lead foot so if I had something showing me how much it was costing me I'm pretty sure I'd be slowing down.
I've had my car for 3 years now and still haven't figured out what all of the buttons do LOL

Jeanna said...

What kind of car is that and what is yours?
It took me a year to finally get a RAV 4 V6 w/four wheel drive and the instant button is fascinating, but the average is what counts in the long run, so I keep that (or the temp, don't get both) on.

PinkPiddyPaws said...

It cracks me up that my CAR tells me when to get my oil changed. But you know what? It saves me money. Because IT usually tells me around 6,000 miles instead of the 3,000 that Jiffy Lube wants me to come in for. ha! Take that Jiffy Lube!

Pamela said...

My car is 10 years old and it tells me when my tire pressure is low, washer fluid is low. etc.

But, my husbands car has that gas mileage thingy. It's difficult to watch (and more so when gas was @4.50/gal)