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Today I wanted to kind of diverge into a different area of interest of mine.  Trying to get the best mileage out of my vehicle as I possibly can!  I wanted to share with you some fuel saving tips that I have learned lately.  We all know OIL is big business.  I, for one, want to give them as little of my money as possible!  We all know that gas prices are insanely high and the oil corporations are making ridiculously high profits.  So the more you can save on your gas and take more from these mega-corporations, the better!

There are a lot of things you can do to reduce your fuel costs.  Most of them are minor and will save you just tenths of pennies, but after a while it adds up.  Others save you a bit more, maybe into the pennies or even dollars.  Do not undervalue the saving of a penny!

I like to get the best mileage I can out of my vehicle, so I try my best to do these things.  As I find more ways to save, I find that I must share them with everyone!  I want to get the word out to as many people as I can!

Filling your tank!

We all seem to search out the lowest prices we can get on our favorite gasoline, but did you know the time of day and how fast you pump matters too?  That’s right, most of us don’t think about it, we just fill up when we are empty!  Here are a few tips to get the most from your fuel purchase!

Fill up in the morning. Gasoline evaporates at a low temperature, therefore is more dense when it is cooler.  You will get more gasoline into your tank if you fill it up in the cooler morning temperatures, as opposed to the heat of the day.  The colder the fuel is the more dense it is.  So filling up in the morning is the best time to do so.  A gallon of gas weighs more at 0°C (32°F) than it does at 20°C (68°F) .  You get more fuel when the fuel is coldest.  Although the tanks are underground and insulated, like a thermos, the temperature is fairly constant day to day, after each truckload of fuel the temperature can change depending on the temp of the fuel in the truck though.  The real difference though will be in the fuel that is in the pipes and hose outside the tank, which can be a few gallons of gas depending on how far the gas has to travel from the tank to the pump you are using! I believe this to be the case just because the pipes and the pumps are closer to the surface and will have temperature fluctuations. Also, there has to be a pipe leading to all the pumps in the system so it stands to reason that the further away a pump is from a tank the more temperature fluctuations there will be in that part of the system.

Pump your gas slowly!  For the same reason you want to fill up your car in the morning, you also want to pump it as slow as possible.  You want to keep the fuel from being vaporized as you pump it.  The new pumps have the nozzles that pull the vapors off for a reason, they go right back into the underground tanks!  So the slower you pump, the less vapor is created and the more gas you will have in your tank, instead of theirs.  It’s minuscule savings of vaporized gasoline, but still important to know that it can make a difference over time!  This savings may not be worth the time to pump so slowly! That’s up to you and your schedule and if you are serious or not about saving any amount you can, no matter how small!

Keep your tank above 1/2 full. Fill up your tank when it gets to 1/2!  Yes that’s right!  Don’t wait for it to get to empty!  Although people will argue about the weight of the fuel being an issue, it’s really not that much weight.  A gallon of gasoline weighs about 6 lbs.  So even if you have an older car with one of those massive 22 gallon tanks, you are only talking about 132 lbs.  Do you really think that 132 lbs is anything to your cars mileage?  I think not!  That’s just like adding one more average sized person to your car.  Except that the tank will lose weigh as you drive and the person will not!

Ok, so the reason to fill your tank up at the half way point is to prevent condensation, not reduce vaporization of the gasoline!  Your vehicle should have a vapor recovery system so any vapors produced are usually recirculated back into your tank or consumed when your engine is running.  WATER forming from condensation and mixing with your gas, can be a problem… Water in your fuel makes it break down faster and reduces it’s volatility, which can give you less energy out of the fuel.

Buy the CHEAP gas!  For those of you that think that ARCO is not as good as Chevron or Shell, go ahead and keep on paying the higher prices.  Chevron adds “Techron” to their gas, and Shell adds that “V-power” only to their premium fuel. The additives are not necessary for your car to run or stay clean inside!  If you are worried about it, you can buy a fuel additive, like Techron, at the local auto parts store that you add to your car every 5000 or so miles.  You might pay $5 for the bottle for those 5000 miles, but you will pay more if you get it in your gas.  Arco in my area lately has been about $3.599 a gallon.  Chevron, Shell and some others have been in around the $3.759 range! That’s $0.16 difference per gallon!  So for every 10 gallons you pay $1.60 more. Not bad.. but how many miles do you get on that tank?  If you drive a Hybrid you might be getting a nice 40 miles per gallon… so let’s call that 400 miles for those 10 gallons!  Most cars won’t get this great mileage and will get fewer miles for the 10 gallons, and so will cost more!  At 4000 miles you are at $16.00 difference and another 1000 miles adds another $4.00!  So you are paying $20 dollars extra per 5000 miles to have it put in your fuel, when you can save $15.00 by going to the store, buying the additive and  pouring it into your tank when you fill up.

Over the years, there have been so many news reports talking about gasoline being the same quality at every station, just differing in octanes that I am convince the brand doesn’t matter, it’s all hype!  I’ve seen no name brand tankers at name brand gas stations pumping fuel into their tanks so I am not a fan of the name brands. I doubt it really matters at all.  Octane matters, brands don’t, the brands just use marketing ploys to say they are better in some obscure way.  Buy the cheap stuff and save yourself some cash!  If your buy the cheap gas and your car runs badly try a different station or increase the octane rating of the fuel you are buying.  It’s important that you use the correct octane or higher for your vehicle!  To find the right octane gas value for your vehicle, look in your owners manual for your vehicle.

Use CASH!  You remember that green paper stuff, don’t you?  Don’t pay interest on your gas by using a credit card!  Don’t pay a debit card fee either!  Use cash and avoid this extra charge!

Debit card stations usually charge a fee to use the card.  Arco has been charging a debit card fee over the past years that I can remember has gone from 25 cents to 35 cents now!  If you use your debit card at any station that has an added fee, you are paying a hefty increase in your gas price.  At 35 cents a tank full you are paying at least 3.25 cents more a gallon – assuming you have a 10 gallon tank and it’s empty.  Most cars have small tanks, 10 – 16 gallons in size, and if you have one have say a 10 gallon tank, you will pay 3.5 cents more a gallon to fill it up when it is BONE DRY!  Pay attention to that added charge and how much it’s adding to your per gallon prices.

Credit cards are probably even worse to use.  Especially if you have a balance. Obviously rates vary and some of us get great rates, but if you don’t pay it off each month you are paying interest on items your bought a while ago and continue to do so EVERY month! This is an endless circle and the topic for another day. If you want to continue to pay for that tank of gas over and over and over, then keep using your credit card to pay for it!

Cash is the best policy!  Once it’s spent, it’s gone and you get the product you purchased, so there is no overspending.  No additional or ongoing fees or interest to pay.

When not to buy fuel! The worst time to get your fuel is when the tanker is filling the tanks or has just left.  The reason is the sediment in the tank that sits in the bottom of the tank, normally, has now been stirred up and can get into your tank!  This can clog your fuel filter and cause other issues in your fuel system.

If you do see a truck refilling the tanks at a station, go to another station or risk getting the debris from the bottom of the tank into your vehicle’s tank!  I suggest you just move on to another station, or wait a few hours to let the new fuel settle down and let that sediment to go back to the bottom of the station’s tank.

The gas station tanks should have filters, but who changes them and how often do they need or get changed?  You may never have a problem with dirt in your fuel if the station and your vehicle fuel filter are in good working order.  But, if you have a vehicle like mine, the fuel filter is almost impossible to get to, and it takes some real effort to get it changed.  (I guess the old days of having the fuel filter in your car, near the firewall, are gone)  Why would I want to take the chance of clogging it up if the stations filters are not maintained properly?  This will just cost me way more money. Best to just avoid the situation when the fuel tanker is there and not have to worry about the filter system being maintained properly at the station.

Try using some or all of these tips and see if you see a difference in the amount your spending on fuel over the next few months or longer.  Depending on how many miles you drive a year the savings could be nothing or something substantial.

This ends part one of my mini series on Saving Money on Gasoline.