Blog: Does it really matter when I fuel up?
By Tim Wiederaenders, Managing Editor
Originally Published: March 19, 2008 2:33 p.m.
Consider re-evaluating your priorities, folks. These tips make sense, and just might save you some of that hard-earned cash. Witness:AAA Arizona said today that "motorists fueling up before the Easter holiday are continuing to hunt for the cheapest gasoline prices in town as fuel prices increase for the fifth consecutive week."Cute play on words, with a bitter pill to swallow: prices continue to climb.Currently, Arizona's statewide average for regular unleaded gasoline is $3.236 per gallon, an increase of more than four cents from this past week, AAA said. Tucson drivers hold on to the state's lowest fuel price at $3.142 per gallon, while Flagstaff drivers continue to pay the most at $3.362 per gallon. Nationwide, the current average is $3.279, an increase of about a penny from last week.Also in its news release AAA stated that Prescott's average went up 4.4 cents since this past week to an average of $3.248 for regular unleaded gasoline. This compares to $2.628 this time in 2007.***With all of that in mind, let's mull the following tips I received through e-mail today - they come from someone claiming to be a 31-year employee with Kinder Morgan in California. (I say "claiming" because e-mails can come from anywhere. However, these tips to get the most for your money at the pump caught my attention.) Only buy or fill up your car or truck in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold. Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground the more dense the gasoline, when it gets warmer gasoline expands, so buying in the afternoon or in the evening ... your gallon is not exactly a gallon. A 1-degree increase in temperature is a big deal for this business, but service stations do not have temperature compensation at the pumps. (AAA's website confirmed this tip.) When you're filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to a fast mode. If you look you will see that the trigger has three stages: low, middle and high. In slow mode you should be pumping on low speed, thereby minimizing the vapors that are created while you are pumping. Many hoses at the pump have a vapor return. If you are pumping on the fast rate, some other liquid that goes to your tank becomes vapor. Those vapors are being sucked up and back into the underground storage tank so you're getting less worth for your money. One of the most important tips is to fill up when your gas tank is HALF FULL or HALF EMPTY. The reason for this is, the more gas you have in your tank the less air occupying its empty space. Gasoline evaporates faster than you can imagine. Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating roof. This roof serves as zero clearance between the gas and the atmosphere, so it minimizes the evaporation. Another reminder, if a gasoline truck is pumping into the storage tanks when you stop to buy gas, DO NOT fill up - most likely the gasoline is being stirred up as the gas is being delivered, and you might pick up some of the dirt that normally settles on the bottom.The e-mail continues on about where each company's gasoline comes from; whether we should support foreign countries, particularly those that "want to kill" Americans. I decided not to share that information, because I certainly cannot vouch for its accuracy. However, I do believe we all should consider where we buy - more than just by price.***AAA Arizona also offers the following tips: Carpool, ride the bus, bike, or walk whenever you can. Remember, carpooling just one day a week could reduce your gasoline consumption by as much as 20 percent. Easy does it. Avoid abrupt starts and stops. You might enjoy flooring it at a stoplight, but you are wasting gas and putting more strain on your car. It also is safer to accelerate slowly; as it helps you avoid red-light runners. Follow the speed limit. Driving faster may get you where you want to go in less time, but it also means more trips to the gas pump. Driving 75 mph instead of 65 mph will lower your fuel economy by 10 percent, and might also earn you a traffic ticket. Avoid rush hour. Stop-and-go traffic is bad for your car's mileage. If possible, stagger your work hours to avoid rush hour. Combine trips. You can save on fuel, and cut down on wear and tear by choosing the shortest route to your destination and combining short trips whenever possible. Travel light. Less weight means better mileage. A heavier vehicle uses more gasoline. Keep your windows closed. When traveling at highway speeds. Open windows cause air drag, reducing your mileage. Keep your tires properly inflated. A simple measure such as keeping tires properly inflated can increase gas mileage by as much as 2 percent.***I DID NOT KNOW a lot of this information. And, I will bet a lot of you did not know at least half of these. I wish people would focus more on these ideas and tips during these economic times, rather than complaining about photo enforcement cameras. Driving slowly or the speed limit, for example, solves more than the problem of speeding tickets, it also is more economical and it's safer.It really makes me think that we Americans do have our priorities ... in the wrong order.Let me know what you think.***UPDATE, 10 a.m. FRIDAY, MARCH 21: I fueled up this morning, before 8 o'clock and kept the nozzle on "low" (two of the tips). I was able to pump 16.5 gallons of fuel into one of the truck's tanks, having never been able to pump more than 13 gallons into it before. Now, I wonder ... is this just a coincidence? Hmmm.