# Obama's tire gauge solution

http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1829354,00.html?cnn=yes

Is Obama right? Assuming the article’s claim that the 20 million barrels of oil the U.S uses each day is for gasoline (and according to this article that’s correct) and assuming just about all gasoline is used in motor vehicles, the following calculations should be correct:

According to the same article I linked to above the U.S currently uses 20 million barrels of oil each day for gasoline.

Assuming every vehicle will get the improvements in efficiency by following his advice, shouldn’t the following be correct?:

20,000,000 bbls x .07 (7% is the total savings from tune-ups and properly inflated tires) = 1,400,00 bbls of oil saved per day.

Did I make a mistake calculating, or is Obama’s claim not only not laughable, but we’d save even more oil than he claimed?

I believe Keith Olbermann said it would actually save 4 times as much.

The math seems to add up.

We need to have statistics on how many drivers already undergo proper maintenance.

Even if Obama’s calculations under estimated the savings, McCain still “wins” the argument if he makes Obama look like a fool, regardless of the facts.

The facts don’t make you the “winner”; you have to win the “spin.” If you can do both, more power to you. Obama seems to only score the first shot at the line but he often loses the second shot. And most people only remember the last attempt and not the total.

Is there some reason we can’t drill for oil and properly inflate our tires? I wasn’t aware that the two were mutually exclusive. But like cckerberos said, we need numbers on how many cars need a tune-up. The OP’s math assumes that every car on the road needs a tune-up.

There have been reasons given why we shouldn’t drill, but none of them have anything to do with not being able to drill if we properly inflate our tires. But since this isn’t GD, those reasons don’t apply here.

I’m not so sure it does. It’s not clear whether or not the efficiency experts took that into account when citing their numbers. If they didn’t, that could account for Obama’s calculations being a fraction of mine.

Tune-ups and proper tire inflation only matter to people squeezing their pennies over the long term, and to people that seriously do all they can for environmental reasons. Yeah, and wierdos like me that want to have a well-running car for the express purpose of keeping it well running.

That could mean that (a) people who are interested in maintaining their cars are already doing so, and (b) people that aren’t maintaining their cars aren’t likely to want to change, unless they go through some type of revelation. Sure, there will be some one-off people who see the light and realize that 3% savings is significant to their budgets, but the majority of the (b) people aren’t inclined to change.

Let’s say the (b) people are inclined to change, though. Assuming they drive 12,000 miles per year, have a car that gets 24 mpg, and pay exactly \$4 per gallon for gasoline that entire year, then they need \$2000 for gasoline. Now let’s imagine that they can save 5% – that’s only \$100. But in order to save that 5%, they have to:
[ul]
[li]properly inflate their tires (they’ll get tired of the gas station pumps with lousy gages, so they’ll get a nice pump for the house with a good gage. Cheap \$3 gages are notoriously inaccurate. So, \$40 for a good pump/gage set).[/li][li]PCV valve, which you should have done already. \$40.[/li][li]“Tune up” \$150[/li][li]Maybe you need an ingition wires – \$150[/li][li]Better get those oxygen sensors replaced – \$200[/li][/ul]
You’re out \$580 bucks in order to save \$100 over the course of a year. For people that live week to week, that a \$580 up front cost to fix your car, or (if they purchase gas once per week) or just an extra \$1.93 every time they fill up the tank. Where’s the motivation to properly maintain your car? Of course that list has things that could be unnecessary, but if you stick with just the two very basics and assume everything else is okay, you’re still springing for a tune-up and air compressor to the tune of almost \$200. For a lot of people, it looks (and in fact is) more economical not to maintain their vehicles.

I don’t think Obama has any illusions that everyone will change their habits because he made a claim. He was making the point that little things can make large impacts.

Nonsense! maintaining your vehicle will save money in the long run, especially for those who can’t afford to trade in their vehicles every year. No one needs a tune up, ignition wires and O2 sensors every year. I wouldn’t be surprised if replacing a faulty O2 sensor paid for itself in gasoline savings in much less than a year in many cases. It’s been years since I bothered to replace my PCV valve myself, but I recall them only being a few bucks.

The poor aren’t driving modern vehicles. They’re buying used and more often at high interest rates on a rapidly depreciating asset. This is already more inefficient to long run capital wealth management than proper car maintenance. But, supposing that they do need to drive, the time they save (or convenience they gain) is offset by gas, insurance, and maintenance. Of these three, which do you think they will pay the least attention to? The fact of the matter is that gas and insurance are immediately realized by the poor. A greater amount of their disposable income goes to those two things. When the choice is between emergency medication, food, or just about anything else and scheduling time out to go have the car looked at, which one of those things will be more likely ignored?

Cecil dealt with this a long time ago. Whether any of that information is out of date is beyond my understanding.

Well, it’s a dumb point, because it’s not practical, as mentioned above. You need too many little things to make it work, which is why it’s dumb. He could have just as well said that if little green men from Mars showed up and showed us their energy secrets, we’d save x quantity of fuel. It’s just as likely to happen. The only difference is his stated offering is that it looks good on paper until you start to think just a little bit.

Actually, I did allow for not replacing all of that stuff every year, but you’ve got to start from somewhere. People that have let their cars go to pot generally need lots of little things, and as you said above, lots of little things can make large impacts.

Jimmy Carter was also right about turning down the thermostat and wearing a sweater, but that one wasn’t received very well either.

Perception ≠ reality.

But as I believe Olbermann pointed out, the poor whites that are supposed to be an easy pick-up for McCain are the exact people who know damn well that tire pressure is important to fuel economy. The spin’s not going to work for them, and most other people noticed that there were a few more details to Obama’s plan.

So then they shouldn’t bother keeping their tires properly inflated and performing other maintenance their cars? Both will keep fuel prices down and help lengthen the life of the car.

I don’t really care. What does this have to do with the truth value of the claim?

Making others aware making small changes such as keeping tires properly inflated and performing tune ups when needed can save as much oil as would be gained by offshore drilling is not a dumb point.

No, that is a dumb point. Telling others why easily accomplished tasks can save hundreds of millions of barrels of oil a year is useful. Those that think that’s lots of oil may change their habits. Those that don’t may re-think the need and impact offshore drilling will have.

You said that as an aside. Obama’s claim was about keeping tires properly inflated and performing tune-ups and you attempted to make it seem this would cost \$580 a year by inflating prices and the need for service/parts replacement.

Yeah, and those people are probably already making sure their tires are properly inflated. Obama isn’t bringing anything new to the table. It’s not like this is some new revelation.

Maybe just to Rush Limbaugh and the Republican National Committee.

It’s not dumb, because your analysis is flawed, because it’s based on an incorrect parsing of what Obama actually said. (Not that that’s your fault.)

Here’s a link to a YouTube video of the speech. What Obama actually says is this:

For some reason, the “tune-up” fragment keeps getting appended to the previous sentence, despite the obvious pause between the two. Keeping tires inflated could cost as little as zero dollars, if one is willing to make an occasional trip to the gas station.

In any case, Obama is making the claim that “if everybody was just inflating their tires,” “we could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling.” (Also, “if everybody was just” “getting regular tune-ups,” “[we] could actually save just as much.”)

Evaluating the truth of the first statement means comparing how much oil would be saved “if everybody was just inflating their tires” with how much oil would be produced if we got “all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling.”

For the first, “You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires.” and “27 percent of passenger cars on U.S. roadways are driven with one or more substantially under-inflated tires.” At 20 million barrels per day usage (from the OP), that’s a projected savings of ~180,000 barrels per day (plus or minus, depending on how you count NON-substantially under-inflated tires and so forth).

For the second, it really depands on what Obama means by “all the oil that they’re talking about.” Who’s talking about it? What are they saying? It appears he’s talking about this: Impacts of Increased Access to Oil and Natural Gas Resources in the Lower 48 Federal Outer Continental Shelf, which predicts another 150,000 - 200,000 barrels per day, beginning in roughly 2020. However, some more Republican commentators think that the actual output of “all the oil that they’re talking about” is much larger, as it includes more locations than the “Lower 48 Federal Outer Continental Shelf.” I haven’t seen any actual hard numbers, but admittedly I haven’t looked very hard and this is not my area of expertise.

Missed the edit window:

As an example of “other locations,” this blog includes the Green River oil shale formation in the oil supply “that they’re talking about getting off drilling.” I have no idea if this is a valid argument or not, because I don’t know how much “they” are talking about shale, and how vociferously Obama is opposing it. In any case, the crux of the argument is that the yield of these places is far larger than ~200,000 barrels per day.

It seems to me that any traction this is getting comes from Obama’s woefully imprecise phrasing (but that’s not a GQ sentiment).

The point is that the poor will use more of their disposal income to survival. Survival is not maintenance. Putting air in the tire is good, yes, and free, but often times there are more things wrong with their cars than just improper inflation. The poor typically don’t eat healthy, get regular medical/detal check ups, exercise, maximize their tax deductions, talk with financial plannersetc.

I wasn’t talking about the truth value. I maintain my car because I can afford it. The poor are less inclined to do so because they have less disposable income. I was commenting on the practicality of such advice. It’s like telling people “Don’t get sick!” Well, yeah, duh :smack: