Author Topic: "Shut off that engine!!"  (Read 5219 times)

Nords

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"Shut off that engine!!"
« on: June 03, 2015, 01:52:27 PM »
I was born in 1960 and I keenly remember the 1973 oil embargo.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1973_oil_crisis)  Almost overnight, gas prices rose to a national average of 55 cents/gallon ($2.97 in 2015 dollars).  I wasn't living on Oahu then, but I'm pretty sure that gas prices were higher than the national average.

One of the symptoms of that gas-deprived era was that any driver or pedestrian felt entitled to stomp over to your (small) vehicle and engage you in a discussion of your driving habits.  Woe unto you if your car was idling a moment longer than necessary in a driveway or parking lot.  If you were conning a supertanker Cadillac El Dorado instead of a subcompact you might even find yourself being yelled at for causing the energy crisis, let alone having your door keyed.  This reflexive behavior was beaten ingrained deeply into my psyche, and even more than four decades later when my car is idling I can still hear my parents yelling "Shut off that engine!!"

This attitude backlashed badly when we bought a Prius and our daughter learned to drive.  As a young engineer in training, she read that the 2006 model runs its engine for 45 seconds at startup to warm up the catalytic converter-- whether the car is moving or not.  As a teen, she was also rightfully terrified of Hawaii's laws against using mobile devices while driving.  She developed the personal habit of getting in the car, turning on the power to the ignition, and then sitting there getting organized.  She'd plug in her iPhone, adjust the playlist and the car radio's volume, don her sunglasses, and set up her map or whatever else she'd need for the drive.  She seemed to be totally able to ignore the car running its engine for that 45 seconds while she got ready, and of course I felt that the car should be moving down the street.  She'd respond that it was less than an ounce of gas and that she'd only raise the Prius' fuel economy from 60 mpg to 60.01 mpg, but I stuck to my guns on the principle of relentless optimization.  As we did so often during the teen years, we eventually agreed to stop yelling at each other. 

So today I was at White Plains Beach, putting my longboard back into that same Prius, when the car next to me (a beat-up Dodge Neon) started its engine.  We were both parked under a tree in the shade, and it was the typical beee-yootiful day in Hawaii nei-- maybe 75 degrees with a nice tradewind breeze.  Great weather to be out in the open, perhaps sitting under a shady palm tree or an awning, enjoying the scenery. 

Like many cars driven by the island's young adults, that Neon has a loud performance muffler and custom alloy wheels.  Sure enough, the people in the front seats had to be younger than my adult daughter and maybe in their teens.  But they didn't turn on the engine to leave the parking lot.  They didn't turn on the engine even to set up their cell phones and their playlists before leaving.  No, they turned on the engine to cool the car with their air conditioning while they sat inside, far from the beach scene.  Both of them were riveted to their phones and texting away, completely oblivious to Hawaii's balmy weather and ocean activity going on outside their (closed) windows.

My 1970s psyche roared in pain, my parents were being channeled in stereo on both sides of my cerebral cortex, my own parental reflex synapses were arcing in overload.  I had to bite my tongue to keep from knocking on their windows to enlighten them on their fuelish behavior. 

Because after all, dude, gas is only $3/gallon. What the heck was my problem?

Camarillo Brillo

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Re: "Shut off that engine!!"
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2015, 02:06:08 PM »
I just did some searches to find out how much gas an idling car uses.  I learned way more than I wanted, but the common reply by some engineers was that a 4-cyl Honda would use .1 to .2 gallons per hour.  So, if those little bastards sat in their air conditioned cockpit for, say, a 1/2 hour, they used somewhere around $.15 to $.30.  Now get off my lawn.

enigmaT120

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Re: "Shut off that engine!!"
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2015, 02:06:33 PM »
I love the way my '04 Insight shuts off at stop lights.  I guess the Prius does that too?  It's a little frustrating to be in my pickup or even my motorcycle and have to listen to them idling away.  I guess I could shut them off and re-start when the light changes.  Not on my old kick-start Triumph though....


justajane

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Re: "Shut off that engine!!"
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2015, 02:14:16 PM »
I just did some searches to find out how much gas an idling car uses.  I learned way more than I wanted, but the common reply by some engineers was that a 4-cyl Honda would use .1 to .2 gallons per hour.  So, if those little bastards sat in their air conditioned cockpit for, say, a 1/2 hour, they used somewhere around $.15 to $.30.  Now get off my lawn.

Are you sure it would be that low if you were running the air conditioner? That seems low.

BlueHouse

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Re: "Shut off that engine!!"
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2015, 02:28:11 PM »
Nords,
I too remember the oil embargo, but my town must have been much more selfish than yours. I remember being in our old woody station wago with my mom and my 4 siblings waiting in what seemed to be an endless line on an odd-numbered day because our license plate had an odd number tag. I remember even then thinking how stupid it was for all of these cars to be sitting idling waiting for gas and wondering why we didn't just all continue to come when we normally would. After all, we never actually ran out of gas that I recall, but the thought of it was enough to make everyone top off every chance they had.
Ours was the only family that didn't have the a/c blasting in the car because my mom never allowed us to turn it on.  I remember feeling like an ant under a glass lens from the heat of our car plus hundreds of others snaking around in those crazy long lines.
I'd be much better equipped if that happened today - I'd just hop on my bike! 

eljefe-speaks

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Re: "Shut off that engine!!"
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2015, 02:35:05 PM »

Chris22

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Re: "Shut off that engine!!"
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2015, 02:48:28 PM »
My 1970s psyche roared in pain, my parents were being channeled in stereo on both sides of my cerebral cortex, my own parental reflex synapses were arcing in overload.  I had to bite my tongue to keep from knocking on their windows to enlighten them on their fuelish behavior. 

Because after all, dude, gas is only $3/gallon. What the heck was my problem?

Aside from that fact that, as pointed out, an idling engine uses nearly no fuel, my statement to you if I were those kids would be "when you're paying for the gas you can make the rules, otherwise you can kindly go f..."  Well, maybe I shouldn't say what I would have said.

zephyr911

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Re: "Shut off that engine!!"
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2015, 03:08:22 PM »
My 1970s psyche roared in pain, my parents were being channeled in stereo on both sides of my cerebral cortex, my own parental reflex synapses were arcing in overload.  I had to bite my tongue to keep from knocking on their windows to enlighten them on their fuelish behavior. 

Because after all, dude, gas is only $3/gallon. What the heck was my problem?

Aside from that fact that, as pointed out, an idling engine uses nearly no fuel, my statement to you if I were those kids would be "when you're paying for the gas you can make the rules, otherwise you can kindly go f..."  Well, maybe I shouldn't say what I would have said.
There remains the fact that 100% (ok, occasionally slightly less than 100%) of fuel used at idle is wasted, and in the big picture everyone's habits do affect the rest of us. Small quantities add up to major effects with time and scale. So it may not be expensive but it trips some of our triggers because of the mindlessness involved.

Nords

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Re: "Shut off that engine!!"
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2015, 03:30:11 PM »
While we're focusing on the fuel use, I'll point out that the Hawaii atmospheric conditions were apparently a few degrees too warm for their beachy expectations.  It must have seemed to be a better decision to burn hydrocarbons rather than to adapt to the external conditions.

And f'gosh sakes, they were parked under a shade tree at the beach.  Were they surprised to discover that it's hotter than an air-conditioned mall or their employer's cubicles?

But yeah, get off my lawn.  I was unpleasantly surprised at the strength of my own reaction.

The surf temperature yesterday was 76 degrees.  After two hours of immersion I still came out chilly.

fuelish behavior. 
Ha!
Whew, thanks, I was afraid that was too subtle for this crowd!

jj20051

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Re: "Shut off that engine!!"
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2015, 03:48:55 PM »
My car has a range meter. For every 5 minutes I idle it will drop by 1 mile. I get 40 miles per one gallon so if I idled for half an hour it'd cost me $0.45. I generally only idle when it's very hot or very cold outside, but the reality is acceleration is far worse as far as cost and wear/tear.

forummm

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Re: "Shut off that engine!!"
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2015, 09:13:52 PM »
I love my electric car. No gas guzzling. Almost no power used while stopped. Generating power while slowing down.

Nubs

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Re: "Shut off that engine!!"
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2015, 08:52:50 AM »
I love my electric car. No gas guzzling. Almost no power used while stopped. Generating power while slowing down.

I'll just leave this here . . .

http://southpark.cc.com/full-episodes/s10e02-smug-alert

(I kid, of course)  ( : 

enigmaT120

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Re: "Shut off that engine!!"
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2015, 01:46:00 PM »
Whew, thanks, I was afraid that was too subtle for this crowd!

Luckily that one was too subtle, or we would be offended.


geekette

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Re: "Shut off that engine!!"
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2015, 03:18:56 PM »
I had a similar visceral reaction myself in a public restroom recently.  Turned on the water, got my hands wet, reached for the soap and realized that the water was going straight from the tap directly down the drain.  Sure, that's where it always ends up after splashing around in the basin, but it just looked so wasteful...

Workinghard

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Re: "Shut off that engine!!"
« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2015, 04:42:32 PM »
I just did some searches to find out how much gas an idling car uses.  I learned way more than I wanted, but the common reply by some engineers was that a 4-cyl Honda would use .1 to .2 gallons per hour.  So, if those little bastards sat in their air conditioned cockpit for, say, a 1/2 hour, they used somewhere around $.15 to $.30.  Now get off my lawn.

Well, that makes me feel a little better since my car is my portable office. I do charting in my car in between seeing patients. Course I could go to a fast food place, but I might succumb and spend even more money. 

JAYSLOL

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Re: "Shut off that engine!!"
« Reply #15 on: June 04, 2015, 08:01:26 PM »
I try to never let an engine idle for longer than a traffic light, unless i'm defrosting the windows in the winter.  I did used to have an older camry (4cly) that i was trying to sell and while it was sitting around I would occasionally fire it up and let it run for 10 min or so to keep it from fouling up.  Once, i fired it up after getting home from work, got distracted with some yard work... went inside… had dinner… went to bed… woke up slept in (saturday)… made a nice brunch… cleaned up… went outside to find the camry still running after at least 18 hours and the gas gauge had hardly moved.  That said, I STILL hate to idle a car, even though it doesn't cost much.

CatM13

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Re: "Shut off that engine!!"
« Reply #16 on: June 05, 2015, 05:10:47 AM »
I understand your feeling completely. I was waiting in car pool earlier this week and got there super early. It was a lovely upper 80s with enough humidity to make you sweat instantly. The car at the front of the line had its engine on when I arrived. I sat in the line for about an hour before school let out (let's not talk about the fact that car pool is crazy). That car had its engine running for the entire hour. I was shocked. I couldn't imagine leaving your car running for an hour just sitting and waiting.