Chrysler criticized oil companies a couple of weeks back for padding their profits and not trying to do anything to help gas prices. There were some fallacies in their arguments; I’m not even going to try to touch it. I’d rather try to solve the problem: Figure out how to burn less gas. So here are some tricks for saving gas.
I’ve got two cheap tricks that seem to work.You can try the first one the next time you get your oil changed. The last time I changed my oil, the guy at the quick-lube place said my oil looked awfully dark and that I ought to have them flush the oil reservoir (at a price, of course–$15, if I remember right). I said OK. I had the same treatment done on my wife’s car when I had hers changed later the same day.
All I can say is that since having that done, my car gets better gas mileage. Right when I first got it, it could occasionally get 39 miles per gallon on the highway. Gradually, my highway mileage declined. Well, after that treatment, I’m back up in the 39 MPG neighborhood again in my 2002 Honda Civic.
I’m sure that having it done every time is overkill, but it’s not a terribly expensive experiment. I have a 12-gallon tank. If it saves me two miles per gallon (which is about right), that saves me a gallon roughly every second tank of gas ($3). Since I get about 400 miles per tank of gas, that’s 10 fillups between oil changes. So the maintenance will pay for itself if gas prices hold.
I’ve heard about another trick, where people are putting a couple of ounces of acetone into a full tank of gas and reporting better gas mileage and better engine performance. I don’t really want to mess around with acetone. But one of the advocates said something interesting: He claimed that the main ingredient in most fuel treatments is acetone.
Well, I’m pretty sure fuel treatment won’t void my warranty, although I’m not sure about acetone.
I used to giggle at the “Use every tank!” sticker on gas treatment. When gas cost $1.09 a gallon, it didn’t make much sense to spend $1.50 to try to squeeze out another mile or two per gallon. But at $3 a gallon, it makes sense to use at least every other tank.
Here’s a tip: Don’t buy it at the gas station if you can avoid it. It’s cheaper at discount stores. Sometimes I even see it at dollar stores. When the goal is to save money by burning less gas, it doesn’t make sense to overpay for gas treatment.
I think both of these things are worth doing, even if they prove only to be break-even propositions. If everyone did them, it would reduce usage, and when demand falls, price usually goes along with it.
I noticed one other thing yesterday. At my sister-in-law’s, 89 octane gas is actually cheaper than 87, at some stations, because the 87 octane gas is 100% gasoline, while the 89 is 10% ethanol. When there’s a price difference, buy the cheaper one.