An Australian couple is passing through Illinois using as little gas as possible. Helen and John Taylor are passing through twice in their effort to hit all the lower 48 states and set a record for doing so in a gas-electric hybrid vehicle, using as little gas as possible. Their car is an ordinary rented Prius. It’s their driving habits that they’re trying to teach us.
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Tire inflation: Helen Taylor says almost all of us have under-inflated tires, and every one psi of under-inflation causes gas consumption to rise 3 percent. It also wears out the tires sooner, which is another non-fuel cost.
Idling and starting: If you’re going to be stopped for more than 10 seconds, turn off the car. When you do start, do so gently. Jackrabbit starts use 23 percent more fuel.
Speed: John Taylor says driving 60 mph instead of 65 uses 23 percent less gas.
The couple already hold records for least gas used hitting the 48 contiguous states in a gasoline vehicle and in a diesel vehicle. The rules state that they can’t just nick the corner of a state; they must travel in it for at least 30 miles. Their gasoline use is closely monitored: The gas tank cover is sealed when the tank is filled, and they must present an unbroken seal at their next fill-up to demonstrate that they didn’t sneak any gasoline in while nobody was watching. They went gently through Mount Vernon and Marion last week, and are in Chicago, Marengo and Rockford this week.