<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Save at the Pump
 

Save at the Pump

August 22nd, 2011 at 10:20 am

Here I am to tell you about more ways to save money at the pump. I focus on cars - more specifically, fuel consumption - so much due to two reasons: 1) auto-related expenses are the second highest expense for most households, 2) fuel economy is one of the easiest things to improve. 

Are you ready to be put in your place? Here we go...

Gas Brands
Most people would think - and do - that gas brands are the leading influence in fuel economy, second only to the vehicle itself. WRONG. In fact, so long as you are purchasing widely-known fuel brands, you are doing what it takes. The top fuel brands are:
Chevron/Texaco
Shell
BP

Some people place BP far above the rest, because of their supposed 'superior refining processes'. Whatever. If you have BP in your area, great. If not - those of us on the west - don't sweat it. 

The two main things to keep in mind for gas brands is: 1) popular brand, 2) fueling up with the same brand each time. Do not mix brands. Also, do not mix fuel grades...

Fuel Grades
Some people believe that higher grade gasoline gets better mileage. Not so. Go by your manufacturer's specifications, found in the owner's manual. Put in the lowest grade possible. For us, it is 87. If your manual says premium, put premium. And NEVER put diesel in a gas engine, or gas in a diesel engine! 

Just remember to choose the lowest grade suggested, and stick with it.

Maintenance
Maintaining your vehicle is the most important thing you can do to extend your vehicle's life, and to save money. Regular oil changes are the bare minimum of maintaining your vehicle. The typical suggested interval is 3 months/3,000 miles. However, I have never had a vehicle that needed oil that often. In fact, full synthetic oil lasted my MINI Cooper S 15,000 miles. And the oil still showed no sign of breaking down. Remember to check your oil.

Your owner's manual will suggest a specific oil viscosity. Most vehicles these days run 5w30. However, most passenger cars can get away with running 0w20 during the warmer months. Running a lower viscosity oil means less resistance in your engine. Which, in turn, means your engine does not have to work as hard, which increases fuel economy. Running a synthetic 0w20 will get you around 6,000 miles between changes as well. 

The level at which to fill your engine's oil is also something to consider. With the lower viscosity 0w20, it is suggested to fill it to halfway between full and low. 

Oil is not even close to the end of maintenance for your vehicle. You should also keep an eye on coolant (also should be halfway between high and low), your filters (suggested replacement every oil change), tire pressure (more on that below), steering fluid, etc. The general rule is to keep all your fluids and filters clean and full, changed regularly, and watch and listen for wear in all areas. You should know when your vehicle starts to perform differently. Do not ignore your vehicle! If it feels wrong/different, do not put it off!

Another way to maintain your vehicle is to regularly give it a bath. Dirt and grime build-up never did anyone any good. 

Tires
Tires can account for a large percentage of fuel economy. Also, replacing them is a large expense, though it is one that is easy to plan for, as you can simply track your tires' wear.

Tire wear is an important indicator to the overall condition of both your vehicle and your driving habits. 

Tires should wear evenly throughout the tire. If they wear more on one side, it could indicate under-inflation, over-inflation, aggressive cornering, aggressive braking, or even possibly poor alignment or worn suspension components. 

When your tires reach the wear bars, it is time to replace them. 

Tire inflation should be checked every month, at least.

Low Roll Resistance tires are great new products. You will find them on all the hybrids, and on new fuel efficient gas/diesel models, such as the Ford Focus SFE and Chevrolet Cruze Eco. These tires are designed to, well, provide less resistance to the tire, thus making it easier for your vehicle to propel itself down the road with ease. 

TireRack.com has great deals on LRR tires, even after shipping. 

LRR tires also offer extended life periods. The highest mileage tire currently offers 100,000/6 yr warranty. 

Driving Habits
I made a previous post about how to save $500 a year on gas, simply by changing the way you drive. I suggest you give that article a read. 

Driving safely is absolutely the best way to improve your fuel economy. When I started changing my driving style, I was getting 35 mpg. Now, every tank, I am up to 39 and 40 mpg. This is 90% city driving. Our car is rated at 24 mpg city. What does that tell you? 

Too often I see people in huge trucks speeding around me because they wanted to the first ones to the red light, first ones to the lane merge, or what-have-you. Just yesterday, I caught up to someone who did not like my driving, sped around me, continued on out of sight, only for me to catch up to them at the red light at the end of the off-ramp. Ridiculous! 

Not only is this behaviour irresponsible for our environment and our economy, but also for the lives of those around them. 

If you think driving safer is not in your best interest... That you do not have enough time, or are too impatient, or what-have-you... Honestly, shut up, look at your life, and change. Haha. There is no reason that everyone cannot drive this way. 

As you can see in my aforementioned post, I am saving $500/yr. That equates to about 70 gallons of fuel. What if every driver were to save 70 gallons of fuel per year? There are over 255 million non-commercial vehicles on the road today. Let me type that out for you. 255,000,000. Times 70? 17,850,000,000. See that? That is 17.85 billion gallons of gas that can be saved, simply by changing the way we drive. 

On average, one barrel of crude oil (42 gallons) makes about 19.5 gallons of gasoline for vehicles. The rest goes to other things, such as heating oil, lubricating oil, etc. So, 19.5x2.15 = one barrel. So how many barrels of crude oil could we save each year? 

17,850,000,000 / 42 = 425,000,000.

That is 425 million BARRELS of crude oil that we could save... Simply by driving safer. Accelerating slower. Braking more gradually. Obeying the speed limits. Not running the A/C below 50 mph. It's too easy, people.

So if you think you cannot do this, think twice about the kinds of values you hold...

6 Responses to “Save at the Pump”

  1. PatientSaver Says:

    I could care less what brand of gas I buy; I shop based on price alone. It certainly doesn't matter whether you buy different brands. That has no effect whatsoever on fuel efficiency.

    Washing your car also doesn't do anything for fuel efficiency.

  2. uRabbit Says:

    Who ever said washing your car did anything for fuel efficiency? What it does do is prevent future repairs. Ever gotten mud inside your wheel hubs? Ever let it dry? What about salted roads? If your city salts the streets, this can cause severe damage to your vehicle when left to sit for an extended period of time.

    The prices in some areas do not fluctuate enough for it to make any difference, when compared to the quality of fuel you are getting. The additives in Chevron/Texaco, Shell, and BP are superior to those of other brands.

    Also, avoid Ethanol, if you are aiming for fuel economy.

    And I believe the correct phrase is, "I couldn't care less..."

  3. PatientSaver Says:

    I thought the whole point of your post was about saving money at the pump. Keeping your car clean has nothing to do with saving money at the pump.

    Your other recommendations are things we've all heard before...keeping the tire pressure up, the oil changed, etc.

    Nothing new here.

  4. Jerry Says:

    Cranky? Frown
    Anyway, I am interested in saving fuel, but I am also very intrigued by alternative fuels. Here in SE Europe there is a huge percentage of drivers who are converting their gasoline vehicles to run on propane or methane. They burn much cleaner, although with slightly less efficiency, but it leads to a fraction of the cost of gasoline. This doesn't work with diesel engines, but there are alt fuels for those as well.
    The problem is that in most cases, you lose the insurance of the vehicle warranty, so people tend to wait until that is expired before making the change.
    I am looking into it. Seriously. There are companies in NY and GA that make the conversions for police cars and trucks already.
    Jerry

  5. uRabbit Says:

    True, Jerry, but propane is not exactly the future of this world's fuel consumption. I believe that biodiesel and fuel cells are the most likely, and possibly the better choices. While fuel cells do not give off pollution themselves, the manufacturing of fuel cells does. It is also quite expensive (only because there is no demand - a moot point, at best). However, is the pollution cause by the production of fuel cells worse than the pollution put off by the consumption of fossil fuels? Doubtful. Just like with hybrid vehicle batteries. As for biodiesel, it is completely renewable and recycled. We take byproducts and turn them into producers. What could be better?

    My ultimate goal is to go car-less. Not 100% car-les, as we enjoy road trips far too much. However, to be able to not drive a vehicle to work, to the store, etc., is a true goal for us. We are currently accumulating bicycle gear to do so. It would be even better if we lived somewhere that never got snow on the ground (Oregon coast/Portland, here we come - not snowless, but our dream location of dominion).

    /ramble

  6. uRabbit Says:

    True, Jerry, but propane is not exactly the future of this world's fuel consumption. I believe that biodiesel and fuel cells are the most likely, and possibly the better choices. While fuel cells do not give off pollution themselves, the manufacturing of fuel cells does. It is also quite expensive (only because there is no demand - a moot point, at best). However, is the pollution cause by the production of fuel cells worse than the pollution put off by the consumption of fossil fuels? Doubtful. Just like with hybrid vehicle batteries. As for biodiesel, it is completely renewable and recycled. We take byproducts and turn them into producers. What could be better?

    My ultimate goal is to go car-less. Not 100% car-les, as we enjoy road trips far too much. However, to be able to not drive a vehicle to work, to the store, etc., is a true goal for us. We are currently accumulating bicycle gear to do so. It would be even better if we lived somewhere that never got snow on the ground (Oregon coast/Portland, here we come - not snowless, but our dream location of dominion).

    /ramble

    P.S. Something tells me that PatientSaver either drives a big 'ole gas hog, or drives a grocery getter like me, but gets the EPA est. mpg or lower. No need to hate, PatientSaver.

Leave a Reply

(Note: If you were logged in, we could automatically fill in these fields for you.)
*
Will not be published.
   

* Please spell out the number 9.  [ Why? ]

vB Code: You can use these tags: [b] [i] [u] [url] [email]