At $3.69 a gallon yesterday, I finally filled up the official car of NewsCut after two weeks, thus ending an experiment in patience and safe driving.
I wanted to find out how much more mileage I could coax out of the beast. To be fair, I'm not one of those people who guns it when the light turns green so that he can get to the next red light faster. But I was more mindful of all the lessons I was taught as a kid driver when the Arab oil embargo was underway: Drive like there's an egg between your foot and the gas pedal.
I coasted when I could. Tried to adjust my speed between lights to avoid stopping altogether. I accelerated slowly and I drove no faster than 55 mph, all of which probably bothered the SUV drivers who were racing past me at 70 mph or so. I was sure I'd have the last laugh.
Of late, the car -- a 2004 Chevy Cavalier -- has been getting about 27 miles per gallon. The previous fillup in February yielded 27.92 mpg. I figured if I could get two more miles per gallon, I would effectively roll the price of gasoline back to an astonishing level.
How'd it turn out? Because I drove farther once the "fill" light came on (I figured a "lighter" car would stretch the mileage), I bought 12.58 gallons and got 29.49 miles per gallon, an increase of 1.57 mpg, or about 19 "free" miles over previous driving habits. That saved me $2.36 or 18 cents a gallon, making the effective price of the gasoline $3.51, which is also the price of gasoline at several stations in the Twin Cities today.
In other words: big deal. There was some benefit to driving differently, but the only real way to save money is not driving the car. Coincidentally, the American Public Transportation Association reported today that as gasoline prices increased, light rail ridership in the country was up about 5 percent in 2011.
People get riled up about higher gasoline prices not only because we live in a car culture and have until recently been OK with inefficient mpg vehicles, but because we see the prices posted as we drive past gas stations several times a day.
While I'm not a huge fan of Obama, whether to vote for him or one of the looney tunes that the republicans are going to settle on is kind of a no-brainer.
I hope that the "it's the economy, stupid" axiom as to who will win the election will not come down to what we're paying for liquefied dinosaur matter.
On the other hand Bob, 30 is the new 20- almost all new cars have better mpg than your (relatively recent) 7 year old car. I bought a 2011 Kia Optima, similar to an Accord, and get 26 city/ 31 hwy speeding/40 hwy egg-shell. Car makers have really increased their mpg(w/o tradeoffs- i get ~200hp from a 4 cylinder) due to gov't regulations since 08, making fill-ups rarer than my previous vehicles.
True, but I paid $12,500 for the car relatively new (it was a high school driver's ed car), and Chevrolet got rid of the Cavalier for a more expensive model, then got rid of that for the Cruze, which will run closer to $20,000. You can buy a lot of gasoline for $7,500. :*)
Say, what do you know about the different blends in Minnesota? I get 33 consistently during the summer driving months and about 37 highway (70 mph). But right around November every year it starts dropping no matter what the temperature.
Someone had indicated in a comment here a few weeks ago that there's a different blend refined in the winter? Why?
What you say may be true, but there is no specification on the btu/gallon of gasoline. The spec are vapor pressure, octane, and a bunch of drive-ability specs. See http://www.magellanlp.com/specs.aspx .
The gasoline you bought may have simply been a different blend of gasoline components than the previous tank... Write me if you want more information on this, Bob.
I own a 2003 Cavalier and did a similar test last summer. For 12 consecutive fill-ups I kept careful records and followed the advice of a Hypermiling web site.
I was getting 26 miles per gallon driving normally.
My results showed an average of a little less than 37 mpg and 3 tanks were over 39 mpg.
In addition to the strategy you used, I also kept my tires inflated to 40 psi. which really seemed to have a quite noticeable effect on the results.
Re: Bob's question on seasonal blends, all fuels (gasoline, diesel, E85) are sold at slightly different blends in the summer and winter months here.
The reason is they need to tweak the mix for cold-weather starts, prevent fuel gelling (this can happen to diesel in sub-zero cold), etc. Engines perfom differently in temperature extremes, but this can be somwhat offset by changes in the fuel.
"Coincidentally, the American Public Transportation Association reported today that as gasoline prices increased, light rail ridership in the country was up about 5 percent in 2011."
One could make the argument that this was no coincidence, but rather cause and effect. We see similar patterns in the purchase of E85 when gas prices are high.
I know I'm going back in time by coming back to this post, but I'd like to elaborate a little on Bob's comments--the major difference behind gasoline blends differing summer to winter is ambient temperature differences and butane.
In the summer, when it is warm, refiners cannot blend very much butane (which has a low BTU value) because so much of it would vaporize--this causes environmental and drive-ability issues. In the winter, with the cooler weather, refiners can blend this butane (which they've stored all summer and fall) as the loss of the butane to the atmosphere is significantly reduced.
Also, different refineries use different blends of gasoline based on refinery configuration and performance. Gasoline is a mixture of blendstocks and some refiners have more of a certain blendstock than others. This leads to variability in the gasoline recipe and performance...