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
forum.

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.