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Madman talks gas mileage: Is 100 mpg possible?

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Posted: Friday, February 10, 2012 3:09 am | Updated: 6:45 am, Mon Feb 13, 2012.

The White House is touting the recession is officially over despite the fact that the economy is moving at a pace that makes Cal Trans workers look speedy. There is no denying that business, especially the car business, needs a jump start. Washington's bailouts saved General Motors' and Chrysler's bacon, but did not pan out too well for the tax payers.

American auto makers have made the best of their second chance. Not only are Chrysler and GM healthier, they are designing cars that will actually sell. I honestly believe their success hinges on designing cars that will be relevant as gas prices continue to climb.

Dan Lungren, California's 3rd District representative, feels that the best way to keep America's car designers thinking is with cash. Lungren is pushing for legislation offering $1,000,000 to the first US car maker that sells 60,000 cars that get 100 miles per gallon. There are, of course, some stipulations car manufacturers must meet before they get their mitts on the green. The cars must be mid - sized sedans, operate on gasoline and the manufacturer must be incorporated in the US. While this sounds like money in the bank for car think tanks like Volkswagen and Toyota, both of which already have built promising concepts, it may be tough for the home team. Even if an American company pulls this off, consumers may be disappointed by the car's actual mileage.

Most if not all car buyers look at the EPA estimated fuel mileage numbers to determine if a car is green enough for them. After the consumer selects a car and drives it a while reality sets in, "where is my 40 mpg?" The EPA mileage estimates are calculated in a government lab in Ann Arbor Michigan. I call it the lab of mileage fairytales. The manner in which the tests are conducted is unrealistic, as are the results. Tests are conducted at lower than average speeds. This is nonsensical considering the driving conditions that the average motorist endures. Really, try driving under the speed limit on Interstate 5 ... you will be unpopular to say the least. The EPA scientists also use one hundred percent pure gasoline. There are no mileage-robbing additives to wreak havoc on the test engines. EPA test results are estimates, nothing more than a best guess.

I am not suggesting that EPA mileage estimates are just a shot in the dark. They are an important tool in car buying. Comparing two cars using the EPA numbers employs the most easily accessible mileage comparison tool, so use it. However, don't expect to achieve the optimistic mileage numbers boldly blazed across your new cars window sticker... you will be disappointed.

If your fuel mileage has got you down, there are a couple of inexpensive things you can try. Check your tire pressure. Your cars optimum tire pressure should be on a sticker in the driver side door jamb. If it is not, visit your favorite tire shop. Most will adjust tire pressure for free. Keep you car well maintained. Regular oil, air filter changes and other periodic services should be done as per factory guidelines. My last tip will save you gas and keep your driving record clean...slow down. The difference in fuel consumption between seventy and eighty mph is considerable and traffic fines for speeding are outrageous.

Hopefully, the economy will continue to heal and American car makers will rebound; but unfortunately fuel prices will continue to rise. When buying your next car compare mileage estimates carefully and follow my tips to get as close as possible to the EPA results. Who knows ... your next Ford may be rated at 100 mpg. By the way, hats off to the Ford Motor Company who took no stimulus money and is going strong. Now that, folks, is the American way.

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