Monday, July 28, 2008

Save Money On Gas

With today's high prices at the gas pumps everyone is looking for a way to save money. I may not be an expert but I have spent a lifetime driving and working on combustion engines. I have no advice for truck drivers since 90% of longhaul drivers are diesel trucks and the price is often times fixed at a common price. Gasoline engines are entirely different.

Some of the biggest myths about gasoline are the octane levels required for cars and trucks in America,
the difference in the gasoline between Cut-Rate dealers and major brands like Shell, Exxon, BP, etc. and the value of additives in gasoline verses keeping your vehicle tuned properly.

Most of what I am talking about is referring to the most common engines in todays vehicles. They are the mid-size medium range horsepower V-6 engines. In the case of proper octane levels it applies to larger horsepower V-6 and some V-8 engines.

The majority of cars and trucks are engineered to run on 87% octane. Every automobile comes with a owners manual and sticker on the automobile telling the owner the recommended octane level. Most mechanics will tell you the biggest problem with combustion engines is carbon built up and some argue that running higher octane gasoline will solve this problem. I disagree to the extent that constantly running higher octane gas is wasting money when comparing the difference in price to the benefit gained. Most carbon built up in combustion engines occur from the incomplete burning of fuel. This is due 9 out 10 times from constant low speed driving that is required in every city. Take any engine with 90 thousand miles of inner city driving and compare it to the same engine with 90 thousand miles of interstate long distance driving and you will find double the amount of carbon built up in both the internal and external parts of the engine and exhaust systems driven in the inner city only vehicle. The cause of this is constantly running the engine at low RPMs (revolutions per minute) and the constant starting and stopping required in city driving. Combustion engines are designed to operate more efficiently and burn fuel more efficiently at higher RPMs than at lower RPMs. Low RPM driving cannot force all of the carbon and unburned fuel out of the exhaust system. No additive or higher octane level will solve this problem. It will give you more power but unless you can force the unspent fuel and carbon out of the exhaust it will remain in the engine and exhaust. I know I will be attacked for the previous statements, but I have a vehicle at present that is 14 years old with 268 thousand miles on it. Until the last 3 yrs over 80% of that mileage has been interstate. Except for some transmission work I have had no major repairs on the engine. This is not the first vehicle I have purchased new and got this type of service from. I keep it tuned and the only additive I add is the occasional injector cleaning treatment.

The difference between Cut-Rate dealers and Major dealers is minimal. The formula for refineries in America must meet Federal standards. Those standards must meet the automobile manufacturers nationally accepted standards. Except for states that require additional additives to meet their specific emissions standards the formula is basically the same. It is much the same as any other distributing company in America, change the label on a particular product and charge more, even though the product came from the same distributer and the products are basically the same. Take a vehicle with a empty tank, add 5 gallons of Cut-Rate 87 octane gas and run it out, take the same vehicle, driver, and travel the same speed with a Major brand 87 octane gas and you will find the distance traveled will be negligible compared to the difference in price per gallon.

Keeping your vehicle properly tuned verses the over the counter miracle additives is common sense. If your vehicle is not firing properly on every cylinder nothing in the world will burn the fuel entering the cylinder.

In summary how can you save money? Change driving habits. When you are traveling on the interstate and find yourself low on gas, don't fill up at the higher stations along the interstate. Pull off at exits close to cities and drive the extra 2-3 miles until you find the Cut-Rate.

If you are driving in the inner cities don't be sold on the commercials from Major Oil companies that my brand is better or safer for your vehicle. Let their gas stay in the ground until they lower their price.

Buy only what you need. A full tank of gas always sitting in your driveway or garage is a waste. The longer the dealer has it in his tanks the greater the chance he will lower the price to make room for his next scheduled delivery.

Look at your manufacturers recommended octane level for your particular vehicle and use the octane the manufacturer recommends. Anything else is a waste.

Look at your vehicle as a machine that requires periodical maintenance and use. If your vehicle is sitting more than it is being driven, find a different mode of transportation. Like any machine a vehicle sitting idly in a garage or outside will deteriorate over time. This is due in a large part to all of the rubber and fluids required in todays vehicles. Machines sitting idle over time will begin to accumulate rust on metal to metal parts and fluids will break down without circulating through the system. The reason motorcycle owners winterize their motorcycles, drain the tanks, remove the battery, run their carburetors dry of gas, etc. for long winter storage is to stop the deterioration of parts that are sensitive to sitting around in gasoline for an extended period of time. Gasoline will begin to deteriorate and break down just sitting in a container the same as most liquids. Batteries have a built in shelf life, sitting idle in a vehicle creates a constant drain and cuts the shelf life of any battery.

Buy the vehicle that fits your needs. If you are only driving in inner cities, consider a smaller less powerful vehicle. If you are traveling more highway or long distances don't be afraid of a larger vehicle. We are a large mobile society and one size fits all does not and cannot apply to all of the requirements of the American driver. While we are waiting for new technology to save us from today's high prices at the pump, there are some things we can do to save a little money and maybe force the dealers to lower their prices at the pump.

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    You gave some really good advice, thanks for the information.

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