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Monday, August 11, 2008

Neutral - The Forgotten Gear

I years past we, as drivers, have relied on the "Over-Drive" gear to get us the peak fuel mileage we desired. It is true that in highway driving, Over-drive is the best gear to have your vehicle in to achieve this goal. But when it comes to city driving, Neutral can be the friend your best friend. My daily driver is a 1989 Chevrolet Corvette that has around 65,000 miles on it. It is a 6 speed manual shift. The Corvette has a 350 ci. tune port fuel injection V8 engine, and is stock. I do keep the oil changed regular and replace plugs every other year. The vehicle is equipped from the factory with a shift light that gives you the best points to shift at to achieve the best fuel mileage and also has a digital "instant average fuel mileage" meter. I had been getting around 22 mpg with my normal driving habits. Recently with the inflated fuel pricing I started paying closer attention to the shift light and my fuel mileage increased to 24 mpg. After a few fill ups and still getting 24 mpg I almost became obsessed with the fuel mileage. Being a mechanic and owning my own shop, not to mention my education in the field, i wanted to come up with a way to increase my fuel mileage further. And the most efficient way, was to continue shifting when the shift light suggests and pop the gear selector into neutral and coast as often as it permits. Yes, every down hill can be achieved with neutral (still maintaining the speed limit with in 5 mph) and my fuel mileage jumped to 26 mpg. It may not seem like much but every bit helps. I enjoy seeing the look on peoples faces when I tell them that my big V8 Corvette gets 26 mpg in the city! And I would be willing to bet that your fuel mileage can improve also by not forgetting about Neutral and the best thing is, it has no additional cost and doesn't have to be added. It has been there for years but sadly overlooked.

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