Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fueling around

Six-year-low gas prices sound good, but how much money are you really saving?

It’s less than I expected when I checked out a new calculator on the My Two Dollars personal finance blog that converts gas prices and my car’s mileage into miles per dollar.

Just for fun I compared how much it cost me to drive home from two different gas stations –one down the street that is charging $1.43 a gallon and one that I usually go to just across the Missouri line that charges $1.32. I burn 17 cents worth of the higher priced fuel driving home from the nearby station and 23 cents worth of the lower priced stuff from just one mile farther away.

That isn’t earthshaking, I know, but it really reinforces the notion that planning your trips, even very short ones, is critical to saving fuel costs. Running to the store just for a half gallon of milk gets pricey if, even at today’s welcome low fuel prices, you are getting maybe 15 miles to the dollar.

Separately, Philip Reed, a senior editor at , also has taken a look at fuel costs and driving habits and concluded that a lot of things we assume we know about cutting fuel costs aren’t exactly true. Trading in your gas guzzling SUV for a hybrid, for example, isn’t a good deal if higher prices, property taxes, insurance and other costs gobble your fuel savings. And getting ultra-high mileage doesn’t always generate ultra-huge fuel savings. For every 100 miles you drive, Reed calculates, dropping from a 12.5 mpg SUV to a 25 mpg compact will save you four gallons of gas, but dropping from the compact to a 50 mpg hybrid only saves two gallons.

But there is one fuel saving tactic I’m sticking with regardless of what gas prices do. I’m staying out of drive-through lanes. It doesn’t make any more sense to burn $1.32 gas in a zero mpg drive through than it did to burn the $4 stuff.


test_acct said...

There is one part of the car cost equation left out - future value of a hybrid or econo-box compared to current SUV.
2 year old Priuses sold last summer for more than they did when new.

In five years what do you think will be worth more ?
2002 Suburban or 2009 Prius?

Cristina said...

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