Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Sometimes, the road gives a man too much time to think. (I Get Paid For Doing This)

A long time ago -- when I used to drive around even more than I do now, I noticed that no two blinkers ever synch up. Unlike snowflakes -- whose differences are exaggerated by poetic license -- it seems to me that there's some sort of deliberate effort on the part of car makers to ensure that blinkers always blink out of synchronicity with each other, as ever since I first noticed that I've tried to get my blinker to match up with the cars around me... to no avail.

I bring that up because today, when I had to drive 476 miles (round trip) for a 10-minute-or-so hearing, I had plenty of time to think -- I started at 6:30 a.m. and the coffee had just kicked in -- and what I began to think about was whether it's true, or merely a psychological trick, that gas gets used faster the fuller the tank is.

That's a theory I've had for about 20 years now, because I used to always fill up my tank whenever I stopped at the gas station, but I began to notice (suspect) that the first half -- from full to half-full-- of the tank seemed to be going faster than the last half -- from half-full to empty.

So I began to wonder: am I burning more gas when the tank is full (maybe because the car is heavier) or is that just a trick of the mind, or is the gas gauge not accurate like I think it is, or... what's the deal with this?

Today, staring at 3 and 1/2 hours (one way) of driving, I decided to put it to the test. I filled the tank up, and began tracking it.

The first photo I took was about 7:59 a.m.: 1/4 of the tank used, after having traveled 96.8 miles. About 90 minutes of driving continuously had used up about 3.5 gallons of gas.

Not long after that, I got to 165.5 miles-- and a half tank. So... proof! The first 1/4 tank had gone 96 miles; the second 1/4 was good for only about 66 miles.

I'll note, for you out there who care, that only the first 10 miles was non-highway driving. The rest was a uniform highway drive of about 72 miles per hour.

Also, I did not text these while driving.

A little while later, at 9:54 a.m., and 225.3 miles, I was down to a quarter tank. So the third quarter of the tank was good for under 60 miles -- again, at the same uniform rate of speed and highway driving.

The final check was after my court hearing: 286.9 miles, and almost on empty -- so the final quarter of a tank was good for about 60 miles, too.

Which, after all that, actually disproves my theory -- and suggests that I should always fill up the tank, as I got the best mileage on the first quarter tank.

But I couldn't worry about that anymore -- not because my "check engine" light was on; that goes on all the time. I couldn't worry about it because I was listening to Stuff You Missed In History Class' podcast about whether Oliver Cromwell actually cancelled Christmas, and I was getting distracted.

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