5 Gas Myths Busted

Gas prices are expected to rise (and, in fact, are already rising) in 2011, maybe even topping $5 per gallon. Unless you drive a green car Olympian, this spike will likely affect your finances. So to help you increase your gas mileage and save money, we’re debunking the following 5 gas myths.

Gas myth #1: Premium is better

According to the Federal Trade Commission, high-octane fuel won’t give your car better gas mileage, increase its performance, or make it run any cleaner. In general, regular octane works just fine for most cars. If your owner’s manual recommends pumping regular, there’s no need to upgrade to premium.

Gas myth #2: Idling saves gas

Idling may have been the favorite pastime of 19th-century dandies like Oscar Wilde, but it doesn’t help much with fuel economy. In fact, according to Edmunds’ experts, idling could decrease your mpg by as much as 19 percent. Idling for longer than 10 seconds burns more gas than restarting the engine, so if you plan on stopping for longer than 30 seconds, you should turn off your car. (And as an added bonus, you’ll cut back on emissions and help improve air quality as well.) Avoid going idle Wilde and save a few Washingtons in the process.

Gas myth #3: Dirty air filters impact fuel economy

This is true if you drive a ’76 Chevelle, but modern cars have been engineered to control the air-fuel ratio, depending on the amount of air coming in through the filter. Reducing airflow causes the engine to automatically reduce the amount of fuel being used. A dirty air filter may hinder your acceleration speed, but according to Consumer Reports, driving with a dirty air filter no longer has any impact on fuel economy.

Gas myth #4: Cruise control doesn’t improve mpg

Cruise control is still going strong and can actually increase your fuel efficiency. On flat roads and highways, cruise control maintains a steady speed, cutting out rapid acceleration and fuel loss.

Additionally, you can increase your gas mileage by up to 15 percent if you travel at 55 rather than 65 mph. Dropping from 70 to 60 mph improves fuel efficiency by an average of 17.2 percent, and dropping from 75 to 55 improves fuel efficiency by 30.6 percent!

Gas myth # 5: Fuel additives add extra oomph (and gas mileage)

Don’t buy into the advertising. The Environmental Protection Agency tested hundreds of products claiming to enhance fuel economy and have yet to discover one that really works. Your best bet? Skip the additives and keep your car well-maintained.

Hopefully, by knowing what’s myth and what’s not, you’ll be able to maximize your mpg and save some bucks at the pump this year.

Related resources

Green your commute
Drive down your CARbon footprint
Fuel economy by car
Fuel cost calculator

The Sasquatch Launch Party and an Interview with Mad Rad

As title sponsor of the 2011 Sasquatch! Music Festival in George, Washington, we recently attended the festival launch party in Seattle. On February 6, we joined fans and musicians at The Showbox to kick things off and announce the 2011 Sasquatch lineup. The Thermals, Das Racist, and Mad Rad headlined the show, and we were able to sit down with Mad Rad for a chat.

See highlights from that interview below:

Tickets to the Sasquatch! Music Festival sold out in record time — an impressive 100,000 tickets in just 4 days!

No wonder, considering the 2011 Sasquatch lineup includes showstoppers like Chromeo, Death Cab for Cutie, The Decemberists, Flogging Molly, Old 97’s, Robyn, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and Wilco, just to name a few.

If you’re heading to the festival this year, you can earn cool perks and benefits just by carpooling to the Gorge. More info to follow.

Sign up to share a ride
See the complete Sasquatch lineup
Check out more Mad Rad

Turn Your Ride into a Make-Out Mobile

In honor of dear ol’ St. Valentine and Valentine’s Day, which has — rather impressively — been around since Chaucer’s time, we’d planned on compiling a list of great make-out cars. But then we thought, unless you actually have a ’74 Coupe de Ville or ’56 Nash Ambassador, who really cares?

So in the interest of interest (so to speak), we decided instead to come up with a short list of things that could turn ANY car into a make-out car. We consulted auto and romance experts alike to come up with the top 4 Valentine’s Day tips for turning your (possibly boring) ride into a super cool make-out mobile.

1. Make-out mobile music

Oft noted for its ability to create a wide variety of moods, nowhere is music more influential than when it comes to romance. A little Savage Garden (“Truly Madly Deeply”) can take things from boring to steamy in seconds. Truly. Of course, the same tunes won’t work for everyone, so it’s a good idea to put a Valentine’s Day soundtrack together in advance.

According to independent and completely unscientific Facebook research, Marvin Gaye, Frou Frou, Def Leppard, Van Morrison (and Halen), Enigma, Prince, and Otis Redding are a few classic mood-makers you may want to include on your playlist. Of course, if you’re tech-challenged or out of time, you can always stick with good old-fashioned radio. There are plenty of radio stations dedicated to love songs — especially on Valentine’s Day — and you’re guaranteed to hear at least a little Manilow (who writes “the songs of love and special things”).

2. Magic

Magic is what you make it, but nevertheless essential when transforming your car into a Valentines’ Day surprise. This could mean anything from a romantic road trip, to a spur-of-the-moment moonlight drive, to date night at a classic drive-in theater. Even if you just cruise around town listening to Sir Mix-A-Lot or Kenny G (why not?), magic is what making out’s all about, so be sure you’re open to spontaneity and impromptu Valentine’s Day ideas.

3. Mints

No explanation necessary.

4. Shakespeare

Ok, stay with us on this one. But a guy who said things like, “If music be the food of love, play on,” and “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” must have known a thing or two about making moves. If you keep a copy of his sonnets (which are sexier than you might think) on hand for emergencies, you’ll be prepared with romantic Valentine’s Day quotes if the aforementioned magic ever falters (or if you can’t find the Barrys — White or Manilow on your dial).

So there it is. Music, magic, mints, Shakespeare — all you need to transform your Celica into a love machine. Good luck, and happy Valentine’s Day.

Related resources

Top 100 love songs
Find drive-ins near you
Mentos: The Freshmaker
The Love Poems of William Shakespeare

How Esurance RepairView Works

Having your car in the shop is no fun. True. But at Esurance, we work hard to make this experience easier for our customers. Find out how Esurance RepairView® works.

Enter RepairView, our popular car repair monitoring service that’s easily accessed from any computer or smartphone. Here’s a little story to demonstrate how it works.

Melanie’s an Esurance car insurance customer from California (great!) who was in a car accident and had to send her car to the shop (not so great). Because Melanie chose to have her car (nicknamed Mr. Mellow) repaired at one of the 1,000+ Esurance-approved E-star repair facilities, she could monitor the entire car repair process from her smartphone.

Through RepairView, Melanie could:

  • Receive daily photos of Mr. Mellow’s repairs in progress, email them to her friends, and post them on Facebook
  • Get more info about the 10-step repair process
  • See the latest projected pick-up date
  • Email the repair shop or call them directly with the touch of a button

Throughout the whole insurance claims process, Melanie kept in touch with her dedicated claims rep, and before she knew it, Mr. Mellow was back to his normal self. Hurray!

Of course, Melanie’s not the only one who can take advantage of RepairView. If you’re an Esurance customer and you take your car to an E-star shop, you too can utilize this cool feature through the Esurance Mobile app for iPhone® and Windows® Phone 7. Plus, customers using Android™ phones with OS 1.5 or higher can access RepairView via the Esurance mobile site.

The moral of the story? Having your car in the shop is never really fun, but with handy innovations like RepairView, we’re making it better. One day, you might even want to get in a fender bender just to check it out. Ok, probably not.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, Melanie and Mr. Mellow are now living happily ever after.

Related resources

Learn more about RepairView
Find an E-star repair shop
Tell us your car’s nickname

Top 4 Reasons Car Insurance for Hybrids Costs More

As hybrids become more popular and affordable, drivers wonder why the cost of insuring them remains higher than average. And for a green insurance company like ours, the relatively high cost of insuring a hybrid presents a bit of a pickle. After all, these hybrid drivers are our people.

Since the first actuarial tables appeared in the 1600s, setting insurance rates has been a complicated and math-intensive business. So we talked with Eric Madia, Esurance’s director of product and actuarial management, to break this hybrid-car insurance pickle down into manageable hamburger chips, and to find out why car insurance for hybrids costs more.

What car insurance for hybrids costs more?

1. The car itself

Hybrids generally cost more than their gasoline equivalents. For example, the 2011 Honda Civic has a starting price of $15,805, while the 2011 Civic Hybrid starts at $23,950. Eric explains, “The value of the vehicle is typically related to the premium charged.” The more expensive the car, the pricier the car insurance policy.

2. The parts
Hybrid cars leverage cutting-edge technology to reduce fuel consumption and protect the environment. For example, according to John O’Dell, Edmunds’ senior editor and green car advisor, damaged batteries for a Prius or Civic hybrid can range from $2,000–$4,000, and that jumps to $8,000–$15,000 for new EVs like the Volt or LEAF. Parts that cost more to replace or repair lead to higher claims costs.

3. The service
Hybrids have engines as well as state-of-the-art electronic components, which means only specially trained mechanics can work on them. This makes finding an affordable, reliable repair shop more challenging. Even minor repairs require specialized service, and as Eric notes, “These repairs are more expensive.”

4. The drivers
This may be surprising, because it’s easy to assume that hybrid owners are the conscientious, safe drivers every car insurance company wants — and in general, they are. The hybrid’s incredible fuel efficiency, however, makes it especially attractive to drivers who spend a lot of time behind the wheel. According to a 2009 study, hybrids log roughly 25 percent more non-commuting miles per year than their counterparts. And, of course, the more time on the road, the greater the likelihood of an accident.

Peering into the crystal ball

Take heart, fellow green car lovers. Car insurance for hybrids will become more affordable the more they break into the mainstream. John O’Dell predicts, “By 2020 there should be enough critical mass to bring down prices, which will help foster faster growth of these vehicles.” Lower purchase prices will translate to lower car insurance premiums. And as fuel-efficient technologies merge into the mainstream, repair and service costs will come down as well.

The moral of this story? Hang in there, hybrid owners. The money you already save at the pump will soon have company in the form of lower purchase, repair, and car insurance costs for your hybrid.