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.