My hypermiling techniques failed; my overall average dipped to 43mpg over the leg from Gallup, New Mexico into Las Vegas, Nevada. However, despite my overall drop in economy, fate conspired against me (I’m a victim of coicomstance! Nyaaaaaaaaa). Strong head winds, snow, traffic, fast food, blown tires and deer; they all conspired against my pursuit of incredible fuel economy. Despite today’s trials, the dirty Jetta TDI Eco-Racer caused quite a stir as it limped into the valet lane at the Bellagio Hotel, more likely due to the strangeness of a magnet laden Volkswagen rather than outright coolness.
As I pulled out of Gallup, New Mexico onto Interstate 40, I merged into traffic smoothly, set my cruise control at the speed limit of 75mph (fuel mileage in the TDI between 70 and 75 makes no difference that I can tell) and let it ride. My tires were over inflated to about 42psi in front, and 44psi in the rear, a recommendation on several hypermiling sites. It seems overinflated tires create less of a contact path on the road, and therefore less rolling resistance, something my Bridgestone Insignia H-rated tires desperately needed.
However, this tactic proved to have no effect whatsoever, as I ran into one of the strongest headwinds I have experienced in quite awhile… and I live in Oklahoma. The 35-45mph headwind pushed my overall speed down to 65mph,. The Jetta struggled to maintain its momentum despite the healthy 177ft-lbs of torque the little 1.8L Direct Inject Turbo Diesel knocked out. In addition to the winds, another problem loomed ahead: snow, and lots of it.
The overinflated tires proved my downfall as the car struggled to maintain a stable direction. Stopping at the Meteor Crater by Winslow, Arizona, I deflated the tires to the manufacturer’s recommended 32psi, and marveled at the straightline stability the resulted. As the snow continued to fall, the highway speed fell to 60mph, then 50mph as forward visibility fell drastically. So drastically I failed to see the small grouping of deer crossing the road. Although the little deer seemed to be fine, bounding over the fence and into the blizzard, my fender now sports a ripply momento of the machine-animal meeting.
A short stopover at Sedona, Arizona to pick up some energy channeling crystals, I reached Kingman by dark. As I climbed over the pass, the Jetta’s back-end swung out unexpectedly in a frightening fashion. A LOT of opposite lock steering and some rumbling from my stability control guided the car to the side of the road, where to my delight in the falling snow, I discovered my rear tire had been neatly slashed by who knows what. Another victim to FOD (Foreign Object and Debris) on the highway.
At least the final push over Hoover Dam into Las Vegas proved uneventful.
1408 miles total
32 gallons diesel used
1 ruined Bridgestone Insignia Tire
1 Dented Fender
$5.00 wasted on stupid energy channeling crystals designed to “streamline fuel flow”
7 Starbucks Soy Mocha Lattes drank