If MPGs Were Really the Reason

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Gas mileage has been a kind of fetish object for the government lo these past 40-something years. But is it really about gas mileage? Or is gas mileage just the excuse for something else – something even more sinister than a handful of people (this is what “the government” is) contravening what buyers want, as expressed by their willingness to buy?

Let’s consider a couple of things that could have easily and inexpensively increased fuel economy; or rather and perhaps better put, made it feasible to go much farther on a gallon of fuel without adding complexity and cost:

Gasoline, for instance.

Not ten percent gasoline  . . . and 10 percent ethanol. Which reduces miles-per-gallon because 90 percent gas and ten percent ethanol contains less energy per gallon. An easy way to increase gas mileage without changing anything about the car would be to put gas – not adulterated gas – in the tank. The increase would be on average about 2-3 MPG, which is a larger increase than is achieved by engineering artifices such as replacing relatively simple fuel delivery systems like port fuel injection with high-pressure direct injection, which also adds to the price of the car – negating the smaller mileage benefit achieved.

Going back to gas would certainly save more of it than is achieved by shutting off a car’s engine every time it stops moving (ASS – automated engine stop/start, another expensive engineering artifice).

And – once again – save money, by eliminating the added expense of a high-capacity starter system and shorter-lived battery.

If the benevolent people who are “the government” were seriously “concerned” – their favorite gaslighting word – about gas mileage, they’d put gas back into circulation. Instead, they put more ethanol into circulation. Which, in addition to reducing MPGs and increasing expense, also has the effect of decreasing the life of older cars not designed for it.

Curiously enough, some of these cars achieved very high gas mileage – burning 100 percent gasoline.

Examples include the Honda CRX HF of the mid-late ‘80s and early ’90s. It was capable of going nearly 50 miles on a gallon of gasoline. It was not anomalous. There were several cars made during this era that delivered better gas mileage than any car of this era that isn’t a hybrid car – which costs you thousands more to save gas, having two powertrains rather than just the one.

These older cars were designed when was still gas. Their fuel systems weren’t designed for  adulterated gas. The more ethanol you feed them, the leaner and hotter they run – if they haven’t got oxygen sensors and the ability to richen their air-fuel mixture to compensate for the less-energy-dense adulterated “gas” of nowadays. A hotter-running engine usually burns up faster than a cooler-running one.

If they have steel fuel tanks – as most cars did back then – the ethanol (which is more corrosive) helps accelerate rust formation; same for the fuel lines – from the inside out.

These cars are thereby retired sooner – and replaced by newer cars that use more “gas.”

But rather than get rid of ethanol – which also lines the pockets of rent-seeking agribusiness cartels who need government force to sell what people would otherwise not buy – the government doubles down on the ethanol adulteration.

Almost.

The “gas” we buy will soon be only 85 percent gas. The other 15 percent will be ethanol. And your car’s gas mileage will go down accordingly.

Well, how about diesel?

Compression ignition engines are inherently more fuel-efficient than spark-ignition engines; they convert more of the potential energy in the fuel into useful mechanical energy. Which is probably why they’ve been systematically removed from the passenger car market and made titanically expensive in the few trucks still available with them.

As recently as five years ago, one could buy a car like the VW Jetta with a diesel engine that exceeded 50 MPG on the highway. Nothing VW sell today approaches that number. If the government – the handful of people with power to enforce what they want – really wanted high-efficiency cars, why did they nail VW to the cross?

Well, the company “cheated”  . . . the government.

Not buyers, who universally loved their diesel-powered cars.

So what really happened was that the government’s authority was affronted – and that always takes precedence over feigned “concerns” about fuel-efficiency.

Not content with getting rid of high-efficiency diesel-powered cars, the government continues to work on getting rid of diesel-powered anything – via regulations that have made diesels extremely expensive to buy (e.g., the Powerstroke diesel offered as optional equipment with the Ford F250 I recently test drove costs more than $10,000) and to fuel. Diesel – via “low sulfur” regulations – costs more than gas (the reverse of what used to be the case) and – because it’s low sulfur – doesn’t lubricate as well, which reduces the life of the diesel engine, which used to be much longer than the life of a gas-burning engine.

The diesel engine is also now more complex than a gas-burning engine – it used to be much simpler –  increasing maintenance costs, which reduces the value proposition. All combined, it makes people less willing to buy diesels.

And so they use more gas.

Perhaps you discern a pattern?

There are other obvious ways to easily and inexpensively increase gas mileage that are actively discouraged by the government – which practically requires that new vehicles be much heavier than they would otherwise be, ostensibly to make them “safer.” But if – as they say – as mileage is so very important, then wouldn’t you think they’d promote lightness and its everyday advantages in terms of saving gas vs. the largely theoretical advantages of the “safe” car, which its owner will probably never crash?

Or at least, allow buyers the option to choose the high-mileage car over the mediocre-mileage “safe” one?

But that answers the question about what the government’s real concern is.

And gas mileage isn’t it.

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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30 COMMENTS

  1. Another thing to point out is that heavier cars and trucks are now using smaller displacement engines that are more complex, more expensive, and have a tendency to grenade themselves sooner.

  2. Now that the EPA has destroyed the longevity of the big diesel engines with EGR, Cats, DEF and low sulfur fuel FORD has come up with a solution; The 7.3 liter iron block, cam in block pushrod 2 valve per cylinder GASOLINE engine for the larger F series trucks.

    • Hi Copperhead,

      Yup! I wish it’d get more press. I recently reviewed the ’20 F250 – though the one they sent me had the 6.7 diesel. I wonder whether the 7.3 would fit under the hood of a Mustang…

  3. Hi Eric,
    Love you. Luckily my wife’s Mazda 3 2.5 GT Tech Pkg gets 35 mpg on the gas in southern Arizona, which can be up to 10% ethanol. I don’t know how Mazda does it, but kudos. Plenty of power w/o a turbo. Awesome car so far.
    Aloha, Vic

    • Thanks, Vic!

      Love the Mazda3, also – a fun (and practical) little car. One of the best such out there. The shame is you can’t get it with a diesel – though Mazda tried. And also that it weighs several hundred pounds, at least, more than it ought to – which is why it only gets 35 MPG on the highway.

      It is nothing less than a tragedy – and an outrage – that modern “economy” cars don’t average 50 MPG. And cost $15k. Which they could, were it not for the costs and impositions of Uncle.

  4. Allowing technically ignorant pols to dictate standards for automakers is absurd, almost as idiotic as allowing our ignorant and ill-educated political class to supervise MDs in the operating rooms of America. The dismal fact is that the average pol is well below average when it comes to any technical, medical, scientific, or historical issue. Their primary concern is the next election and how to best bribe their constituents with goodies and promises. They’re rightly mistrusted and oft-despised and view their occupations as lifetime sinecures, especially those in the House. We allow presidents two consecutive terms – members of the House and Senate should also should be limited to two terms, then back to the private sector.

  5. Anyone else pissed that when you can find a station that has “ethanol free” gas it’s so much higher? If the regular gas is listed at 10% maximum ethanol, why is the ethanol free gas 30% or more to buy? It should be 10% more to buy if what we are being told is true. I understand that if less is sold the price can go up, but not this much. Also, I remember in the Midwest, gasohol, what we see everywhere today, was cheaper than regular gas, as everyone knew you would lose MPG’s using it.

  6. For the last 40 years government has been controlled by the global warming mantra, dictated by the Marxists, which to this date has failed miserably to take hold in real time. Today, the same scheme is being perpetrated through the use of a fake pandemic which might not be a virus but a micro-bacterium very similar to TB. The ultimate goal is to save socialism by engulfing the world with a New Green Order that controls everything. MPGs will not even register because if you are allowed to drive at all, it will be in an totally controlled E/V. Your entire world will be reduced to a virtual hell experienced through your government controlled smart (laugh) phone. There will be no outside world available to you…you will be murdered if you leave your closet unless you have the proper approval.

  7. My first car was 89 accord and it seemed to average about 35 miles per gallon. I wondered why so many years later the only cars that seemed to gas mileage that high seemed to be hybrids.

  8. Here’s a fact that supports Eric’s essay here. For counties and or states that have mandatory SMOG inspections for vehicles, the vehicles that fail SMOG testing and go on to fixed to be within compliance. The SMOG amount that is lowered by those vehicles corrected is overshadowed by E-10 gasoline by 60 times more SMOG. Simple answer, stop the E-10 nonsense and instantly create a major reduction in SMOG. Eric ask, “why, if it’s really not about mpg”. The truthful answer is two fold. The all of this insane nonsense keeps many hundreds of thousands of government employees, employed. Who’s employment takes priority over the common citizens as proved by the coronavirus lockdowns. Anyone see a School Teacher protest because they can’t make it on unemployment checks, you won’t or any government employees for that matter. And the Godless that have huge amounts of power in our government world today, get people to, worship the creation and not the Creator. Another point that I first hand found out about that simply proves that the SMOG nonsense is all about power and money is: Put expensive thermal windows on your home in a county or state that has mandatory SMOG testing and your property taxes will go up because the value of the property is more. Oxymoron or better, you’re being criminally cheated out of your time/freedom and your money/ freedom. Want the truth on pretty much anything that has a hint of being crooked because the facts don’t follow common logic? Follow the money, works every time.

  9. “Safety” produces bigger, heavier cars whose occupants will survive 80mph rollover crashes, yet spend 80% of their time doodling about at less than 35mph for school drop-off, extracurriculars for the little darlings, and getting groceries and drive-through coffee and food.

    The US-spec version of the Fiat 500 (2007) weighs in at 2,500 pounds; it still only manages 29-34 mpg (EPA). Compare that to the second generation Honda Civic (1979-1983), which weighed a thousand pounds less but got well over 40 mpg. Even the current Smart Fortwo (W453), which is pathetically undersized for anything except urban parking, weighs almost a full ton and is only EPA rated for 35 mpg.

    In any two-car household, at least one of them should weigh under a ton and get 45+ mpg. Under the conflicting goals of U.S. standards, that’s impossible today.

    • Exactly, Kevin –

      It’s absurd that a car the size of the Fiat 500 weighs what it does. It ought to weigh around 2,000 pounds or even less. Wasn’t that the whole point of a micro car once upon a time? The tragedy is that with all the modern tech – PFI, overdrive transmissions – a car the Fiat’s size ought to be averaging 50 MPG.

  10. Supposedly, adding ethanol to gas is necessary to support the newer, more “efficient” downsized turbo engines such as the one I now drive.

    • The only benefit I can think of is as an octane booster. But there are many ways to boost octane. With ethanol in the gasoline fuel makers simply don’t use other techniques and the gasoline has the same end octane.

    • And therein lies the problem. Why not just use bigger engines with lower compression ratios (e.g. a 2.5L vs. a 1.4L 4-cylinder)? Oh, yeah…

  11. I know this is off topic, but I want to get this link out there: https://wecantbreathe.news, which just went up.

    Alex Jones just announced it. It pertains to the mask psychosis, the submission training, everything. I thought you all would like to know about it. Thanks!

    • I ‘signed’ the petition. I hope more ppl get in groups and get rabble-rousy. But I’d rather they drag the jerks out and burn them alive (we need some ‘sacrifices to satan’ nowadays LOL), instead of standing outside with a sign pleading with their oppressors to be nicer to them. This whole sign holding & pleading thing is PATHETIC and sickening IMO. This country needs some changes namely that THE PEOPLE actually vote on everything important instead of dictators bossing everyone around. SIGH. Isn’t everyone sick of this dictator crap yet? I mean, come on, how many goddang centuries of oppression can the people stand? This is ridiculous now. Fire them all, they’re all war enemies now, every single thing they do is a WAR CRIME against the people now, they’re not our leaders, they’re our enemies always trying to hurt us and destroy our country’s infrastructure.

      Why isn’t blm/antifactists doing stuff like this? Nooooo, all they care about is stupid dumb antiquated retarded fake whiney irrelevant nonsense — cuz they’re all on a payroll running a false flag distraction that’s why.

  12. “Degrading our topsoil to fuel cars is fundamentally insane. We are mining our topsoil. No civilization outlives its top soil.”

    Fundamentally insane … except to an ethanol lobby that profits from destroying the greater good.

    And that’s just one of dozens of predatory lobbies, ranging from the defense procurement lobby to the Israel lobby.

    A prostituted political system is guaranteed to blow up catastrophically — first slowly, then suddenly.

    The former Soviet Union showed how it’s done, when its impoverished subjects in eastern Europe downed tools and strolled out into the street, no longer pretending to work. Some of them even took “freedom trains” to the West.

    There won’t be no freedom trains when the World’s Sole Superpower(TM) smacks the wall. Most of the trains will be stuck in the shop for repairs, missing critical Chinese-supplied parts. The few still running will derail on badly maintained tracks.

    “The pumps don’t work cuz the vandals took the handles.” — Bob Dylan

  13. They do it because most people are exceedingly stupid. Don’t believe me,,, look at how many are wearing masks. My son has a Harley stage 4 road king. Puts the crap gas in it. Can’t figure out why it gets hot. He doesn’t buy the 100% gas cause it costs more. With the stage 4, I told him some octane improver might help. Looked at me like I grew horns. Most of the younger gens have no clue and don’t want to know. If it runs,,, fine with them.
    I have a 98 Regal. Got 14-16mpg on the crap gas. Gets 18-21 on 100%. Probably would do even better but I add Marvel Mystery oil to lubricate the top end and fuel system. Good stuff!
    As for government,,, just a gaggle of PhD’s and politicians that have never worked a day in their lives. Most are chauffeured around in bullet proof Caddy’s furnished by us that get 4mpg. They bomb little nations that cannot defend themselves putting ungodly amounts of carbon their so worried about into the atmosphere. Every vehicle they use has little to no environmental controls. Hypocrisy reigns in America. Most of what America buys comes from the most polluted nation on earth… China. And Just like they think a virus doesn’t travel over six feet they think all that pollution stays in China. Talk about pegging out the Stupid Meter!

  14. It is definitely not about mpg. MPG is just the front for many other sinister things. Mainly limiting competition. But also propping up bloated manufacturers and politicians, raising costs to own, etc… the list continues to grow.
    I think we will start to see some push back in the more rural places of the US. The Roxor is a good example of a new vehicle that does not meet any EPA/CAFE or safety standards and is being sold as a side-by-side at motorcycle/off-road dealerships. If/when you start seeing these on your local roads, its game on.

  15. I bought a 1988 Chevy Sprint with the 3cyl engine and the 5 speed tranny. After switching out the 12″ tires to the 13″ tires on the same import it came from and switching the odometer gear I got 45 mpg with it. All on a 2 barrel carburetor.

  16. Not to mention that degrading our topsoil to fuel cars is fundamentally insane. We are mining our topsoil. No civilization outlives its top soil. The Middle East wasn’t always a region replete with deserts. That’s why human civilization began there, it used to be quite fertile. Of course since agriculture began there, it was the first to expire. As for diesel, I have a 1964 diesel tractor I’ve owned for 30 years. One of the beauties of it is the almost total lack of maintenance required. The only thing I have ever done to it is change the filters, and replace the water pump. This is due to the utter simplicity of it. Which has now been defeated by the Psychopaths In Charge.

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