Dear Tom and Ray:
If I bike up a steep hill, I have to slow down, since maintaining speed would exhaust me. Applying this to driving, I drive my VW Golf up steep hills in the truck lane quite slowly to save on gas. My wife used to disagree, but due to my persistence, even she does this, to a degree, when she is driving. I've noticed that no other cars do this. Am I nuts? — Russell
Ray: No, you're not nuts, Russell. You're just annoying.
Tom: I mean, you're technically correct. If you drive up a hill at 45 mph rather than 65 mph, you'll use less gasoline.
Ray: You not only eliminate some wind resistance, but under certain circumstances you also may allow the transmission to shift into a higher gear, which saves you fuel.
Tom: But you're also ticking off your wife, as well as the truck driver whose Peterbilt grille is inches from your rearview mirror because he's eager to get his trailer full of melting Eskimo Pies to Waukegan by nightfall.
Ray: You want to be careful and be aware of what's happening around you so you're not making yourself a hazard on the roadway. Because speed differential on highways does cause accidents.
Tom: If you're not causing truckers to honk and tailgate and pass you with their middle fingers extended, then it's more a question of your own priorities, Russell. Is your fuel economy more valuable to you than your time? Are you willing to accept the annoyance of others you inconvenience, including your wife, to get slightly better mileage? Or do you consider "slowing down and smelling the roses" to be just another benefit of your approach?
Ray: Actually, it's not the roses you'll smell in the truck lane. It's diesel exhaust. Good luck, Russell.
(Car Talk is a nationally syndicated column by automotive experts (and brothers) Tom and Ray Magliozzi. Write to them at the Car Talk website.)