Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tank 218 - Last one for 2009

The adventure began when the Woodbridge Exxon was out of gas!

The adventure continued when I learned that Sam's Club no longer sells
gas to non-members!

Finally arrived at a Texaco nearby that refueled me with 10.553 gallons.
After driving 379.3 miles, this made for a pathetic fuel economy of
35.94 miles per gallon.

I blame my 107 minute trip home last night. It took me 40 minutes to go
about three miles. Part of that three miles was a long gradual
downhill, so I had my engine turned off for close to 8 minutes as I
slowly coasted down the hill.

(Be aware that the power brakes stopped working so towards the end I was
using both feet to press hard on the brake pedal. Had I started the
motor up with both feet stomping the brake pedal, the power bakes would
have IMMEDIATELY kicked in and I'd have stopped real hard, real fast,
which may have caused the guy behind me to slam into my car, so I do not
condone this practice of slowly coasting down a long hill with the
engine off in traffic! Plus, it's probably illegal.)

According to my odometer, I drove 16,700.4 miles on these tanks of gas
this year. My total odometer reading is actually 83,961 miles, but the
total miles driven according to my trip meters is only 83,906.1 miles.
I don't understand why this discrepancy exists and I feel I may be the
only one who knows about it, as Google searches in the past revealed no
results similar to mine.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Three cheers for high gas mileage!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tank 217 - 11 December 2009

406.2 miles, 11.199 gallons. 36.27 mpg.

There are about 8 more days I will drive the mighty Corolla to the
office, so most likely there will only be one more refueling opportunity
in 2009. In order to break my all time fuel economy record for a
calendar year, I'll need my next tank to be over 53 miles per gallon. I
don't think this will be happening.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Tank 216 - 3 December 2009

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend delayed my eventual refueling
experience until last Thursday, where once again I refilled at the
convenient Exxon of Woodbridge and put in 11.750 gallons of gas. I had
gone 437.69 miles on that tank, so my fuel economy was a poor 37.27 mpg.

Now it is quite cold outside and I suspect my mileage will suffer even

But I also really need to get the timing belt replaced. It's been
81,000 miles on the original belt that came with the car, and I really
think I am just on borrowed time here.

Time is running out for me to catch up with my all time annual fuel
economy record. I better start driving like a grandma again...

Christmas Decoration!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tank 215 - 19 November 2009

So I refueled at the convenient Exxon of Woodbridge last Friday on my
way home. After going 433.4 miles, I squeezed in 11.581 gallons of
regular unleaded gasoline, making for a fuel economy of 37.42 miles per
gallon for the tank. This is just 0.03 miles per gallon better than my
2008 average, so I guess that's good. But I am running out of time to
raise my annual fuel economy average to beat the reigning high average
that was set in 2007.

Thanksgiving week is upon us, so this tank should last for a while,
seeing on how I am just driving to work twice this week.

This was my 37th tank of the year. Last year I had 38 tanks of gas
total. With this tank, I surpassed my total miles driven from last
year, and have driven 15,477 miles so far this year. Yeesh! That's a
lot of miles.

However, I have spent a lot less on gasoline this year: $894.77 on 37
tanks, vs. $1,229.20 on 37 tanks of gas last year. That's like almost
27% less spent on gas this year.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tanks 213 and 214 - 11 and 12 November 2009

I had the pleasant experience of driving over 500 miles in the last
couple days. Yesterday I got to spend 10 hours in light to heavy rain
for a day trip to Raleigh, North Carolina for a court date to seek
monetary judgment against past tenants whose security deposit did not
cover all the repair costs after they moved out.

Tank 213 was still commuting and around town driving, but I refueled the
day before my trip so that I wouldn't have to get gas on the road in the
morning while wearing my suit. So the tank was "only" 387.3 miles on
10.438 gallons, making for mileage of 37.10. Pretty bad.

But tank 214 yesterday, after going 446.6 miles in the remnants of
Hurricane Ida, I refueled in Petersburg VA on my way home with 11.293
gallons, making for mileage of 39.55 miles per gallon. Pretty good.

So it all evened out.

Still, all that driving in all that rain was not as pleasant as I would
have wanted.

I passed four cars that had lost control and apparently hydroplaned and
spun off the road. Two of those cars were missing their front bumpers.

Happily, I finished my book on CD "Dearly Devoted Dexter." I liked it a
lot and have requested the first Dexter book.

My new book on CD is "Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy." I'm more than
halfway through it now, and I am sorry to report that I really don't
like this sort of science fiction. It seems like the author (Doug
Adams, I think) just puts in the oddest thing he could think of at the
time and makes up silly backstory and stuff. It seems silly and not
silly in a good way. But, many people just love it, so I can at least be
aware of what it is, and can appreciate why they like it. Maybe the
total oddity of it is what's so compelling, like the legend of
Spearmanwich and his furious bumboozleplex gambit of the giant kumquat
uprising of Standard Unit 53,488.6.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tank 212 - 2 November 2009

I refueled for the 212th time yesterday. I refueled at the supernatural
Exxon of Woodbridge, with 11.561 gallons of unleaded gasoline at $2.599
per gallon. In total, I spent $30.05, the first time a tank cost more
than $30 since October 21, 2008, more than a year ago!

I managed to travel 453.1 miles on this tank, the fourth most amount of
miles for a single tank of gas. Astute readers will no doubt have
figured out that my fuel economy was thus 39.19 miles per gallon, which
is not even in the top 15 for fuel economy results, but still good
enough to raise my 2009 annual fuel economy to 37.49 miles per gallon.
If I can keep this up, I will be able to surpass my annual average fuel
economy record of 37.87 mpg, set in 2007.

Election Day!

Friday, October 30, 2009


Dearest Family,

My coworker Geoff really loves his dog and has entered a picture in a
pet photo contest with a prize of $250 in pet food.

Please take a moment to vote for Amber the dog, dressed up as Amelia

Thank you so much,


-----Original Message-----
From: Swanberg CIV Geoffrey M
Sent: Friday, October 30, 2009 10:05 AM

Display as HTML.

My chocolate lab, Amber, has been entered in a pet photo contest at
WASH-FM. Please follow the link below to see and vote for Amber.

Thanks for taking the time,


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

10 Reasons Why I Don't Go To Panera Bread

1) I don't have an iPhone.
2) I don't drive a Prius.
3) I like American cheese.
4) I am not a college student.
5) Panini? Pano-no.
6) I am not a tree-hugging environmentalist.
7) I have the Internet at home.
8) I don't wear any clothing made of hemp.
9) Spending $7.00 for half a sandwich does not make me feel good.
10) I am not a woman.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tank 211 - 23 October 2010

So the entire family has been sick with an illness of unknown origin
this week, and I stayed home for two and a half days from work. This
delayed my refueling until today, a stretch of 11 days where otherwise
would have been 9 days. I went 448.2 miles on 11.531 gallons of gas,
making for a fuel economy of 38.87 miles per gallon.

I refueled this morning at the incredible Exxon of Woodbridge. But it
turned out that gas, at $2.599 per gallon, was about 12 cents more
expensive than the rather inconvenient Wawa that's an inconvenient mile

Basically, my non-desire to drive to the Wawa, which I didn't know at
the time was so much cheaper, cost me $1.38.

So how did you discover this mythical inconvenient Wawa, Kenny?

Funny you ask, because I passed it as I was driving back to the office
from the Sears Appliance Center. And even then, to get to it I'd have
had to go past it to the next break in the road and make a U-Turn to go
to it.

And the last time I made an effort to go to this Wawa, the air pump was
broken, and that was the main purpose of that particular trip, so I tend
to dislike this Wawa for these reasons. It's inconvenient, and the air
pump was broken one time.

But the Wawas near my home are in great shape and there's usually a wait
at the air pumps. And gas pumps, too.

I will refuel the Mighty Corolla today. Meanwhile, enjoy this:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I like this picture.

Lifted from the Failblog.

I think I might try to photoshop my own face onto it. That'd be funny.

Tank 210 - 12 October 2009

This most recent tank served me with 37.98 miles per gallon, going 446.6
miles on 11.760 gallons of gas.

BFD, you say? Oh, read on!

With this tank, my average fuel economy for 2009 now matches my average
fuel economy for 2008: 37.39 miles per gallon!

Over 13,308.4 miles in 2009 and 15,302.9 miles in 2008, my fuel economy
is the same when figured out to two decimal places.

Truly this deserves special note as we celebrate Manhattan Thursday

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tank 209 - 2 October 2009

Deepest apologies for such tardiness. I refueled last Friday and only
now am updating. Probably it's because I achieved a pitiful 36.59 mpg.
I don't think I was driving much different than normal. Perhaps it was
due to an increased number of "in town" trips to soccer games and such.
Yeah, that's what I'll go with.

So I went 418.4 miles on 11.434 gallons. I refueled at the Sheetz, and
paid $2.199 per gallon, which is the cheapest gas since Memorial Day.

I actually received a comment on an earlier post about oil changing. I
wonder now, gentle reader, you change with synthetic oil only once a
year-- how many miles do you drive?

They say the synthetic oil can go much farther intervals before
changing, but I have never looked into it, as each time I go to change
the oil I turn into mister cheapskate and balk at the prices.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sending a Picture as an Attachment to See if It Works

And sending along this text to see if it shows up above or below or if
the picture appears...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tank 208 - 23 September 2009

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that the Wawa just shut down a lot later than most
gas pumps. I went 451.7 miles on this tank (last tank was 452.7 miles,
if you recall), and only managed to squeeze in 11.386 gallons of gas at
the local SHEETZ. This is almost three quarters of a gallon less than
the Wawa let me pump in.

So my fuel economy obviously was awesome, 39.67 miles per gallon. But
the average of these two tanks, 38.48 miles per gallon, probably is
closer to about what I got for these two tanks.

The low fuel light came on really late on this tank, 428.6 miles, the
third highest.

I really need to change the oil in this car. It has been nearly 5,000
miles, probably a bit more because I tend to reset the warning light way
after I change the oil. But at 3,000 miles, I looked a the oil dipstick
(trivia: this was the first time I had pulled the dipstick out to check
the oil since this car was purchased!) and the oil still looked golden,
so I let it go.

Now it looks like I've gone 5,000+ miles so I better think about
changing the oil this weekend.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tank 207 - 15 September 2009

I put in over 12 gallons of gas into the Mighty Corolla for the first
time yesterday. 452.7 miles on 13.139 gallons, making for mileage of
37.29 mpg.

I got this gas on a hot day, 89 degrees, at the Wawa near my house that
I rarely go to for gas. I wonder if this Wawa just puts in more gas
before the pumps shut off, or if I really had just over one gallon of
gas left in my tank (the Corolla's tank is 13.2 gallons).

Fuel economy was relatively poor, which is odd because the low fuel
light came on at 406.6 miles.

I was worried that I'd actually run out of gas on this tank. The needle
was completely below the markings and covering up the corner edge of the
"E" for empty. Perhaps if I drove every mile like the low fuel warning
light was on, I'd get even better mileage.

On Sunday, we refueled the Cash Cab minivan with 13.448 gallons after
driving 304.4 miles. The trip computer said "23.0" miles per gallon,
but really it worked out to be 22.64 mpg.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tank 206 - 6 September 2009

So the Mighty Corolla was called into action for a weekend trip to Busch
Gardens in order to get one.. more.. day out of our season passes. The
place was packed with other people who clearly had the same idea. So
the extra 200 miles (100 miles each way) meant I needed to refuel.

Ended up going 446.6 miles on 11.491 gallons for a fuel economy of 38.87
miles per gallon for this tank. This raises my annual average fuel
economy from 37.26 to 37.32 mpg. A couple more tanks of similar fuel
economy will make the annual average beat last year's average fuel
economy of 37.39 mpg. The next goal is to beat my 2007 average of 37.87
mpg. Three months of careful driving ought to get me there.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tank 205 - 31 August 2009

Deepest apologies for my delinquency in posting this latest result. I
know you care deeply and are irritated at my laziness.

438.9 miles on 11.568 gallons = 37.94 mpg. Nothing really notable about
this tank. That's probably why I forgot to post it for three days.

The moderately interesting news is that it was the second
10-day-between-tanks interval in a row. That doesn't happen very
frequently. Sure, I get 9 days followed by 11 days, but two 10s is
rare. With the holiday weekend coming up, it looks like I'll stretch 10
days or more with this tank as well, which would be rarer still.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tank 204 - 21 August 2009

425.3 miles, 11.254 gallons of gas = 37.79 mpg. Higher than the annual
and lifetime average.

Is good.

An interesting thing over the last three tanks: even though each tank
was filled at a different place, with a different total miles, and a
different cost per gallon of gas, my "gas cost per mile" was $0.064 for
each tank. That is 6.4 cents per mile, and interesting that it rounds
out to that same cost.

Miles Gallons MPG $/Gal $/mile
414.3 11.782 35.16 $2.259 $0.064
467.4 11.495 40.66 $2.599 $0.064
425.3 11.254 37.79 $2.429 $0.064

I hope the chart looks nice.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tank 203 - 11 August 2009

This morning I refueled at the strong Exxon of Woodbridge. Gasoline was
$2.599 per gallon, a full 34 cents more per gallon than the last time I
refueled 9 days ago.

On this tank, I drove 467.4 miles, 8.6 miles farther than I had ever
gone before on a tank in this car. The low fuel light turned on at
424.7 miles, which was not a record but still really good. At this gas
station, I pumped in 11.495 gallons, making for a fuel economy this tank
of 40.66 miles per gallon.

I don't know what to make of this, seeing on how last tank was such
crappy mileage. Perhaps the world's slowest gas pumps allow me to put
in so much more gasoline that fuel economy looks bad. But I thought of
that this morning and slowed down the Exxon pump as it passed 10
gallons, hoping that reduced turbulence in the tank would in some way
mitigate this issue.

Still, keeping track of fuel economy over the long haul ought to level
out these individual peaks and valleys.

This tank raised my fuel economy for the year to 37.22 miles per gallon.
I have spent $563.63 on gas this year and driven over 10,000 miles so

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tank 202 - 2 August 2009

I had the unfortunate pleasure/mistake of refueling at the World's
Slowest Gas Pump yesterday. It was so slow that I stopped at the first
click. It was so slow that the guy who pulled up at the opposite side
pump actually swiped his credit card, punched in the ZIP code, started
pumping, decided it was too slow, replaced the pump, got his receipt,
and drove away before I was done with one gallon. It was torture.

To make it even worse, after 11.782 tedious gallons and 414.3 miles, it
was only 35.16 miles per gallon. This was an unusually large amount of
gas for this car.

How I dislike the local Valero.

On another, more positive note, the Cash Cab was also refueled recently,
and after that vehicle went 382.6 miles, the trip computer reported 23.4
miles per gallon. We squoze 16.486 gallons in there, making for an
actual mileage of 23.21 mpg, which is pretty good both for the minivan
and also as a correlation with the trip computer.

How to Stop Rubbernecking

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tank 201 - 22 July 2009

39.91 miles per gallon after going 448.2 miles on 11.230 gallons.

I refueled on July 22, 2009. On July 22, 2008 I also refueled, but that
was my 22nd tank of the year, and yesterday was my 23rd tank of this
year. I have gone about 400 more miles so far this year than last year,
although I have spent about $270 less on the gasoline I have used.

It's been a pretty good stretch of mileages recently, with my last 5
tanks averaging 39.43 miles per gallon. Gas only has cost about 6 cents
per mile, or about 18 miles per dollar of gas. So my 33 mile commute
costs under two dollars each way. I remember days in the past when I
had to work for half an hour just to earn enough money to pay for the
gas I used to get to and from the job. It's nice those days are in the

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tank 200 - 13 July 2009

Thanks to the 4th of July Holiday, I made it two full weeks between
fill-ups this time. Plus, I managed to eke out 452.7 miles before
refueling, which is the third longest distance I have gone on a tank of

I filled up at the legendary Woodbridge Exxon with 11.516 potent gallons
of gas, making for 39.31 miles per gallon on this tank.

All of this greatness could be too much for me to handle.

Recently, I have been noticing, or wanting to notice, that certain
brands of vehicles tend to be aggressive asses on the highway. In
particular, I notice, or want to notice, that all (not "most," but each
and every one I see) BMWs tend to be aggressive asses who drive fast,
erratic, and unpredictable.

So I think I will shortly start tracking another statistic on my way
home: the AAI, or "aggressive ass index," if you will. Currently I am
contemplating how to categorize aggressive ass behavior, and how
detailed I want to get with the breakdown.

I am aware that sometimes I behave like an aggressive ass as well, so
I'll do my best to document the times I behave in such ways that offend
my fellow commuters.

My goal here is to see if in fact more BMW drivers are aggressive asses
than other brands of car drivers.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Tank 199 - 29 June 2009

This morning I refueled at the powerful Woodbridge Exxon near my office.
The strong pump squoze 11.468 quality gallons of Exxon gasoline into the
capacious tank of the Mighty Corolla, after I manfully drove it 439

This made for an impressive fuel economy for the tank of 38.28 miles per
gallon. I am pleased with this result because last Friday's commute
home was 97 minutes of slow, stop and go, mileage-sapping traffic.

Over the weekend, we had the grand opportunity to refuel the Cash Cab as
well. That tank received 17.324 gallons of Sheetz Quality gasoline in
Fredericksburg, and went 368.6 mostly around town miles, making for a
calculated fuel economy of 21.28 mpg. The trip calculator claimed 21.5
miles per gallon, which remains pretty close to actuality. Certainly
better than the Green Minivan that it replaced's estimates.

Additionally, the green minivan, granted with minimal data, provided
typical around town mileage of 15 to 17 mpg, and highway mileage that
pushed 23 or 24 mpg. The Cash Cab appears to be better both in town and
on the highway.

I learned over the weekend that the 2008 Sienna LE, with its
266-horsepower engine with variable valve timing-intelligent! Can whip
from zero to sixty miles per hour in 7.1 seconds, a full second faster
than the next fastest minivan, and as fast or faster than many cars on
the road today.

Not that I have ever timed it or tested this myself...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tank 198 - 17 June 2009- Low Fuel Light Indicator Was Pretty Accurate!

Luckily, I needed gasoline yesterday right after I made up my cool new
chart that showed fuel economy vs. distance travelled when the low fuel
light came on.

For this tank, the low fuel light came on at 413.6 miles. According to
my collected data, this would indicate my fuel economy would be between
37.95 and 39.77 miles per gallon, with an average that should be 38.81

So after going 440.2 miles, I put in 11.331 gallons of gas, and my fuel
economy for this tank worked out to be.... 38.85 mpg! That's really
close to the average fuel economy I have achieved when the low fuel
light comes on between 410 and 414 miles!!

Also, it looks like my last amazing mileage tank was not a fluke, but a
happy instance where the whole tank happened to be driven in an
unusually sane manner.

I have spent $426.49 on gas so far this year on 20 tanks of gas. Last
year at this time I had spent $650.77 on just 19 tanks of gas.

Overall, the mighty Corolla has gone more than 75,000 miles.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chart- to go with below story- maybe this will be visible...

Low Fuel Light As Indicator of Fuel Economy

This morning I thought of something as this tank neared 400 miles so
far on my commute to work. I wondered if the miles driven prior to the
low fuel light turning on for good had any relation to overall fuel

So I spent a few minutes whipping up a couple of charts, and it appears
that there is a correlation between the time the low fuel light turns on
and the overall fuel economy for the tank.

File under "obvious," I guess, but it's kind of nice to know that when I
see that light turn on after I have gone 400 miles, it means I'm on
track for 38 mpg or better.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tank 197 - I Don't Believe This Is Accurate...

So I refueled this morning at the Exxon station near my office
@$2.499/gallon. I went 450.9 miles on this tank, which is the third
farthest I have ever gone on a tank of gas in this car.

At this Exxon, I only squeezed in 11.053 gallons, making for a
calculated mileage of 40.79 miles per gallon, my fifth best mileage
result ever.

I strongly suspect that this gas pump is calibrated to shut off way, way
early. If my next tank ends up serving with 38 mpg or higher, I will
believe this tank's results with more trust.

Although I was driving with much greater attention to my acceleration
and braking, so it is possible I drove just that much more gently. On
the other hand, so far this year my mileage has been historically lower
than average.

Other notable facts from this tank:

Average tank distance is raised from 395 miles to over 398 miles per

Average fuel economy for 2009 raised from 36.53 to 36.75 mpg.

In 2007, I went an average of 8.54 days between tanks. In 2008, the
year I halfway carpooled, I averaged 10.08 days between tanks. So far
in 2009, that number is back to 8.53 days. Man, I wish I was carpooling
again. Kind of. I really am enjoying listening to my books on CD,
which I was unable to do while carpooling.

I have spent $398.17 on gas so far this year. Last year at this time I
had spent just $605.78, although gasoline was more expensive last year.
I have driven about 250 more miles in 2009 than the similar time period
in 2008.

In about a week and a half I will discover whether or not this 40.79
miles per gallon is just a sham.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Recent Tanks - Most Recently 31 May 2009

29 May 2009 - Tank 196 - 429.5 miles, 11.454 gallons, 37.5 miles per

This is more like it but still not what I have grown to expect from the
Mighty Corolla. I believe some time in June I will eclipse my to-date
miles driven over 2008. Mostly because I no longer carpool. That's

On a happier note, on 31 May I refueled the Cash Cab and was surprised
at what I learned! The Cash Cab went 407.6 miles on 17.317 gallons.
The computer claimed 23.2 miles per gallon, but my calculation resulted
in 23.54 mpg. This is notable because the old green minivan was always
way optimistic with it's fuel economy guess, and here the Cash Cab is
truly pretty close, and actually a little under.

Also, computed fuel economy for the new minivan of 23.54 miles per
gallon is pretty great compared with what the old green minivan gave us.
But about half of those miles were highway miles. Still it appears the
new minivan will provide better fuel economy than the old one.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tank 194 - 12 May 2009

This tank served me for 429.8 miles on 11.490 gallons of gas, making for
mileage of 37.41 per gallon. This had been my best mileage in a while.

It was also my 16th tank of the year. My 16th tank last year came on 13
May. So it feels proper to do a comparison, since the days are so

As of the 16th tank, I had gone 6401.4 miles last year. This year I
have gone 6254.6 miles, about 150 fewer miles. Last year I had spent
$518.46 on gas at this point, but this year only $317.31, although from
the news you'd think we all were paying more today. How quickly we
forget that last year we paid over $3.50 per gallon at this time of the

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tank 193 - The Bloodletting Continues

Well, the mighty Corolla passed 73,000 miles. Perhaps it is time to
replace spark plugs and clean the K&N air filter. So far in 2009, my
average fuel economy is 36.41, which is almost one mile per gallon less
than my 2008 average. That is almost a three percent decrease, and

So I will shortly go and procure a K&N air filter cleaning kit as well
as 4 new spark plugs. I have not done anything to these parts of the
car. I really haven't worried about any part of the engine or
drivetrain since the car was purchased new in 2005.

Maybe I ought to have the brakes looked at, although they passed
"inspection" just a few months ago.

Anyway, this last tank (the tank that caused me to think) went 394.3
miles on 10.862 gallons of gas, making for an average of 36.30 mpg.

What bugs me is that I have gotten much better numbers in the past.
This car isn't old enough to go downhill like this. If it's not the air
filter and/or spark plugs, I don't know what it may be.

I have been driving quite gently in recent weeks and still mileage is
comparatively crappy.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Cash Cab Tank "#1:" Suspect

So I refueled the Cash Cab after it went just 159.3 miles, because I
suspected that the dealer only filled the tank MOST of the way and not
ALL THE WAY. I sure hope I was right, because the trip computer claimed
19.5 miles per gallon and I calculated a mere 16.23 miles per gallon
after pumping it full with 9.816 gallons.

I regret not remembering where the fuel gauge needle was as we drove
away from the dealer. I think it was hovering near the F for Full, and
after refueling all the way it's just above the top of the F for Full.

This next tank ought to show how accurate the computer is. I am
beginning to feel that many of these mileage computers are just best
guesses, but tweaked to make you feel that you get better fuel economy
than you actually get.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Now Appearing in My Driveway... THE CASH CAB!

Well, the green minivan failed us for the last time. After a small
spike in electrical-related frights, the "wannas" won out over the "lets
keep its" and we traded in the 1998 Chrysler Town & Country (128,000
miles) for a 2008 Toyota Sienna (22,500 miles).

The new minivan is officially some shade of blue, but to the untrained
eye it is actually dark gray. In some ways it is not as fancy as the
T&C, as the Sienna has "only" 2-zone heat/air conditioning (T&C had "3
zone), and the Sienna has hubcaps and not alloy wheels.

But, the Sienna has tire pressure monitoring, traction and skid control,
and rear seats that fold flat, as well as windows in the doors that open
up. The kids really wanted to have that.

Looking around on the internets, I found that a 2005 Sienna is the main
vehicle used in the awesome game show CASH CAB. It's the same body
shape as our "new" 2008 van. I think that when I share this information
with the kids, they will like to know this.

I hope it improves the general feelings of the family. One child was
unnaturally attached to the green minivan. Probably because we had
joked that it's older than her, and would she want us to get rid of her
when she got to be that old, when she complained at how old the green
minivan was.

Lesson learned. Don't joke about getting rid of your kids!

Allegedly, the Sienna also has better city mileage, 17 mpg vs. 16 in the
green minivan. It also has a trip computer for me to complain that
grossly inflates the true fuel economy numbers.

So now we drive the Cash Cab. It's fitting because it came in at a
medium-sized pile of cash. I sure hope it lasts us at least 10 years.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tank 192 - 22 April 2009

This last tank was notable in that it drove the car one tenth of a mile
further than the tank before. This time it went 410.3 miles on 11.764
gallons, making for a pitiful 34.88 mpg overall. However, three days of
that were from Courtney driving around town, as I drove the green
minivan to work this week. Long story, but the green minivan may be on
its last gasp of life so I drive it in the unlikely event that it dies
in service...

The only thing good about my recent tanks of gas is that many of them
have come after 400 miles. Fuel economy- worse than 2008. Days between
tanks- worse than 2008. Cost of gas- less than 2008.

This was the 14th tank of the year. Last year, the 14th tank came on 18
April, so by some miracle I remain on the good side of that comparison.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tank 191 - 13 April 2009

Man, this not carpooling is starting to bother me. I had to refuel
after just six days. But some of that was due to using the Mighty
Corolla for two extra trips north to visit family and a class I am
taking on my Friday off.

Still, this was the shortest tank since, oh, 12 March, so just a month.

Anyway, 11.302 gallons after going 410.2 miles = 36.29 miles per gallon.
Not too great, but it's been worse.

Perhaps I should pump up the tires more.

I thought that my "I'll drive 70 or 75 now because it gets me better
mileage" theory was correct, but now I ma not too sure. Perhaps it's
also heavier morning traffic.

Maybe the car's getting old. Probably not.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tank 190 - 7 April 2009. Always Buy Exxon Gasoline!

This tank had a few notable items. First, it took me 435.3 miles, the
farthest that any tank has taken me so far this year. Second, it took
11.590 gallons, the most I have managed to squeeze into that tank this
year. I also went 49.0 miles after the low fuel light came on, also a
record distance travelled with the light on.

I am a donkey on the edge!

After all that, I managed 37.56 miles per gallon on this tank. Not
spectacular, but about 1 mpg higher than my 2009 average so far.

So far this year I have spent $227.74 on gas for the mighty Corolla, on
12 tanks. One year ago I had filled up 13 tanks and spent $404.40 on
gas. Gas remains over one dollar cheaper per gallon than last year at
this time.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tank 189 - 30 March 2009

Oh, wah. I only got 34.46 miles per gallon on this tank. The low fuel
light came on at 370.2 miles, and I refueled at the "well, it's close to
my house at least" Valero after going 385.7 miles. Refilled with 11.192
gallons @ $1.959 per gallon.

This Valero gas station has a number of strikes against it. First, the
pumps are very, very slow. Second, a new "security measure" requires me
to enter my ZIP code after I swipe my credit card. Oh, it asks me
whether it's a credit or debit card. You'd think it would be able to
tell the difference. But after I put in the ZIP code, I need to search
for the "enter" button and press that as well. It's a 5-digit number--
it should automatically know when I put in my whole ZIP code!

Then it finally allows me to choose my type of gas I want-- and WATCH
OUT! NOT all gas pumps have regular old 87-octane unleaded as the
leftmost button anymore-- some stations are tricky and are putting super
unleaded on that side to trick you!!

So my pump starts pumping really slowly, and this annoying loud voice
AND MILK HERE... and you need to seek out yet another button to shut
that guy up, except there's about a one second delay from the time you
hit the STFU mute button and the time he actually goes away-- so you
press the button twice which just unmutes the turd voice and gets you
even angrier.

Then when the tank is finally full, it asks if you want a receipt, and
to choose "yes," you need to find the "yes" button, which is not on the
LCD display, not even on the keypad with the "enter" key, it's in a
THIRD location.

It would be faster if the machine asked me if I wanted a receipt right
at the start. But that would be efficient and customer-friendly. No,
Valero would not want that at all.

All of this, and I got crappy mileage as well.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tank 188 - 20 March 2009

Refueled this morning as a terrible mess of other people clogging the
Interstate due to an "accident" caused me to feel concerned that I may
not make it to the office with the low fuel light on.

So I pulled off at Aquia Harbor and bought me some Exxon Gasoline.
10.590 gallons to refill after going 392.1 miles. So I got 37.03 miles
per gallon.

I am pretty sure me gas tank is 12.5 or 13 gallons, so in all likelihood
I'd have been able to make it to work. However, according to "How It's
Made," gas tanks keep a 20% reserve inside after all other signs point
to "empty."

This makes sense, because otherwise more people would run out of gas, I
guess. Seeing the needle drop lower and lower, then the low fuel light
comes on. I did math (!) one day and found that 11 gallons into my tank
refills it to 80% of capacity, which confirmed the "HIM" statement that
it should register "empty" and still have 20% of gas in there.

I suppose this is to help also to prevent air from getting into the fuel
lines as the car goes up and down hills.

But knowing this means I can just go 40 more miles even after the light
comes on for 20 miles...

But I won't do that because I am a wimpy chicken.

The car manufacturers did a great job training all of us in this way.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Not for the faint of stomach...

Last night I cleaned out my belly button with a Q-tip, and my wife, for
some reason, felt compelled to observe the outcome. She freaked out when
that cotton swab emerged with a small amount of LINT hanging off the

So she yelled at me for not keeping my belly button clean enough!
Firstly, I did not announce I was going to clean the button. Second, I
did not invite you to watch. Third, I bet you're going to check out your
own belly button shortly to see if in fact my results are common, and I
bet you'll find out that they were!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tank 187 - 12 March 2009

My suspicions that my wife has a lead foot are being confirmed. I just
refueled with 11.140 gallons after driving 420.7 miles, making for a
fuel economy of 37.76 miles per gallon. The last tank, mostly HER
driving, was much worse.

I am getting mildly bummed that my commuting buddy has basically ended
our commuting relationship. I will need to start warming up to my other
coworker about sharing our trips. I really enjoyed not having to drive
when I was the passenger.

On the other hand, I can now listen to my books on CD in the car again,
which makes for a less stressful trip home.

There are no positive comparisons to last year's fuel economy numbers.
Last year was 37.39 mpg, this year it's just 36.63 so far (and I blame
my lead-footed wife!), and days between tanks is almost two days less!
Miles travelled per tank is down, but so is total cost, so I guess
that's one good thing...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tank 186 - 6 March 2009

Courtney filled up the mighty Corolla last week after spending the week
in Lynchburg for a class she's taking. Last time she took the car away
for a class, it was February and the fuel economy for the tank she was
responsible for was a pitiful 32.51 miles per gallon.

Well, she was made aware of her fuel-burning ways and this last tank,
also under her control for the most part, came out with 33.71 miles per
gallon (316.3 miles on 9.382 gallons).

What does this mean? Is she a lead-footed monster? Do the gas pumps in
Lynchburg and Culpeper dispense more fuel than in other places? Does
the driver really make that much difference in a car's fuel economy?

The average fuel economy for the six tanks I primarily drove in 2009 has
been 37.61 miles per gallon. The average fuel economy for the two tanks
that Courtney mostly drove: 33.11 mpg.

The tanks I drove ended up with about 13% greater fuel economy than the
tanks Courtney drove.



Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tank 185 - 25 February 2009

This morning I refueled at a Sunoco in Woodbridge. It was 25 degrees
outside as I celebrated the fact that the mighty Corolla was deliciously
sucking up the official fuel of NASCAR.

11.208 gallons were deposited in the tank, this after going 437.7 miles,
making for a mileage number of 39.05 miles per gallon.

This tank, I noticed the speedometer hovering near 70 miles per hour. I
believe this is more like 67 miles per hour, as the GPS unit was on for
part of this tank and it shows current speed as well. My conclusion is
that my bald front tires are smaller than the speedometer is calibrated
for, so the speedometer thinks I am going faster because the tire
circumference is smaller than a normal tire ought to be.

I intend to replace the front tires this week. And also change the oil.
The car barely passed inspection due to the tires being nearly bald, so
it's probably wise to replace them before something bad happens.

But the 39.05 mpg is the best fuel economy in 2009 so far, so for that I
can be happy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tanks 183 and 184 - A Tale of Two Drivers

So last week my lovely wife took the mighty Corolla to Lynchburg for a
week-long course at Liberty University. On her way out of town, she
filled up with just 6.079 gallons after I drove it 234.1 miles, making
for a fuel economy of 38.51 miles per gallon. I refueled it again this
morning, after she returned from her class and a few other around-town
trips, and this tank (mostly her driving) went 352.8 miles on 10.852
gallons, a measley 32.51 mpg.

Although 32.51 mpg is nothing to sneeze at, it's not as good as this car
normally gets. And considering that about 250 of those miles were
mainly high-speed controlled access roads, I am more discouraged.

But it's still a better overall gas idea for her to drive the red car
and me to drive the green minivan during these times, as the green
minivan seems to provide a safer driving environment for me and the
three kids when we go out during the week she's gone.

But "safety" is a relative term that I don't want to address in this

Friday, February 13, 2009

Gas for 69.9 cents per gallon!!

Our local Ukrop's grocery store has this agreement with a nearby BP gas
station that gives "valued customers" discounts on gasoline. For every
$50 spent at Ukrop's, this BP offers a ten-cent-per-gallon discount.
There is no cap to the discount, so, conceivably, one could wait until
gas was "free."

The other day I was in the green minivan and needed gas, and I was also
planning on passing by this BP, so I did and it turned out that I was
entitled to a discount of $1.10 per gallon. So I refueled and got
17.299 gallons at 69.9 cents per gallon and left there with a full tank
for $12.09.

The trip computer said that tank served the van with 20.5 miles per
gallon, but my calculator indicated a much more pitiful fuel economy of
19.6 miles per gallon.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tank 182 - 3 February 2009

Refueled with 11.209 gallons at the Aquia Wawa on my way home yesterday,
after going 433.9 miles. This made for a fuel economy number of 38.71
miles per gallon, which is pretty good.

There's a pattern so far with my first four tanks of 2009: 35-38-35-38.
I can't really explain this, because I feel I have been trying to drive
steadily and consistently. But such is life.

I have gotten around to reading the book "Traffic (why we drive the way
we do and what it says about us)." It is quite interesting to me, and
is making me very concerned about both my driving skills and those of
the drivers around me. It's scary to read about how drastically our
ability to notice things is diminished with the smallest distractions,
including cell phones and car radios.

One nugget that I didn't know before is that, in general, people do try
to focus on the road when they are talking on the cell phone. However,
their focus tends to be concentrated on the immediate road and car
directly ahead, whereas normal drivers not on the phone tend to scan all
around, to the left and right as well as in front.

So this "tunnel vision" of focusing intently on what's directly ahead of
the driver on the cell phone actually reduces that driver's ability to
be aware of unexpected hazards to the sides, including merging traffic
or police lights.

I noticed yesterday on my way home that I did this as well-- I got a
call from home and as I was on the phone, I totally noticed that I just
stared straight ahead at the back of the truck I was following, and as
soon as I hung up, I looked all around to see what else was going on.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tank 181 - 26 January 2009

The third tank of 2009 served me up with 35.09 miles per gallon. So far
this year, my average fuel economy is 36.47 miles per gallon.

I sort of miss my carpooling, because I can foresee already that I will
be buying more gas this year than last year. Although my overall cost
will likely be less, my requirement for more gas is disturbing because I
know I could use less gas with just a little cooperation from my
friendly coworker.

But there is hope! A new coworker started here and lives nearby as
well. If all goes well, after a month or three we will be able to
discuss ride sharing and maybe start that again.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tank 180 - 15 January 2009

Well, I am not carpooling as much any more, so I am spending more
commuting time focusing on drafting behind 18-wheelers and coasting down
steep hills. It appears to be working, as this tank took me 424.1 miles
(405.2 miles before the low fuel light came on) on 10.924 gallons,
making for fuel economy of 38.82 miles per gallon. Had I stopped at the
first shutoff click, it'd have been 40 mpg, but that'd have made my next
tank look worse I am sure.

I am pleased with this tank of gas, as normally my fuel economy is low
when it is cold outside. It was 25 degrees when I refueled this
morning. Although my records don't show a huge difference, last January
when it was 26 degrees, that tank gave me 37.92 miles per gallon.
Still, that's about a 2% smaller number.

Next week, a new coworker will be starting, who happens to live in my
neighborhood. Perhaps we will feel comfortable enough with each other
to agree to carpool some times. That would be even better than my
current plan, as in theory I could walk to my neighbor's house to start
the carpool.

But let's not put the cart before the horse here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

2008 vs. 2007: Fewer Tanks, More Money, Less Miles, Slipping Fuel Economy

2008 saw 38 tanks of gas go through the Mighty Corolla, at a rate of one
tank every 10.08 days. This was better than 2007, which saw 41 tanks,
one every 8.54 days.

I also drove almost 1,036 fewer miles in 2008, primarily (I suspect) due
to my carpooling efforts with my friendly coworker. However, I believe
my efforts to not appear as dorky as I truly am caused me to drive
faster than normal with her in the car, so my overall fuel economy for
2008 actually went down 1.27% to 37.39 miles per gallon.

I spent $1,245.79 on gasoline for the Corolla in 2007, a 14.26% increase
in gas over 2007. The average price per gallon was $3.031, marking an
increase of over 23% (just over 50 cents) per gallon.

Lots of people said that high gas prices severely hampered their travel
habits in 2008. My personal experience of paying for gas is that yes, I
spent $155.49 more on gas in this one car during the year. Work that
out to a monthly increase in gas, it's an extra $12.96 spent on gas per
month for this car.

I have made this point before. If people are losing financial control
of their lives over an extra $13.00 a month, then we all are in trouble.

But gas prices are things we look at on a regular basis and some of us
track them extensively, and it's fun to advertise GAS PRICES AVERAGED
OVER 23% HIGHER IN 2008! In real numbers, this is not nearly as scary.

Everyone noticed people driving more slowly in general when gas prices
went over $4.00 a gallon in 2008. But I have noticed a shift back to
the crazy big SUV swerving ways of old now that the gasoline has dropped
in price. Indeed, my carpool buddy has not shared rides with me nearly
as often now that gas is "more affordable" again.

Our future President Obama has announced that he will continue to push
for better fuel economy standards and alternative energy sources, which
I can get on board with. But there seems to be more and more items that
he is declaring "a top priority," and I wonder how many top priorities
there truly can be when he arrives to deliver our change later this

2009 will be an exciting year in many ways.

I have refueled my first tank of 2009 and got 35.49 miles per gallon. I
blame bad weather.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tank 178 - 29 December 2008

This is a late update that the last tank of 2008 tanked. It was a
measly 33.53 miles per gallon. I don't know why. I am preparing a
better update with comparative 2008 and 2007 numbers for later, and that
should be much more fun.