Mailbag

March 16, 2009

Q:  Hybrids are cheaper and cleaner to operate in the long run. What is the environmental impact to build and dispose of these vehicles compared to normal gas autos?  -Fred

A:  In a word, the battery. Lithium Ion is really nasty stuff. The reason they are made in the Third World is that the Western World will not tolerate the pollution and noxious emissions from the plant. At the end of the life the battery is not recyclable.

 

Q:  What advantages are there in ordering 18" wheels instead of the 16" on the 2009 Camry?  -Gord

A:  Better handling, although the replacement rubber will be much more expensive.


Q:  With regards to fuel economy, its always been said that the lower the RPM, the less fuel is consumed. What about gearing down? The RPM's pick up to slow down the car, but does that corresponding increase in RPM in turn increase fuel consumption? I have a 98' Cirrus and on cruise control the engine will drop a gear to keep from overspeeding. With my drive to work and with all the hills it happens quite a bit. Am I wasting more fuel using the cruise control and having the gear drop over manually controlling the Speed via ledfoot?  -Thanks, Judd

A:  Its swings and roundabouts. The cruise does of good job of getting the best mileage so using it optimizes economy. On the flip side, the higher up the rev range you wander the more gas the car consumes -- I would stick with the cruise because it is better than man at getting the best out of the car.

 

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