Tag Archives: BP

Support Motorsport Sponsors?

This post is about motor oil and the holiday season shopping, shall we say- opportunities? Yes! It’s all about great deals on products from companies that support Motorsports through their sponsorship. I don’t know about others but when it comes to effectiveness of Motorsport advertising, I’m a sucker for buying things that are promoted on race cars. In this case it is Castrol EDGE motor oil for my Miata. I think I actually bought too much!

A little back story… I have been posting a lot of Miata.net about what oil is recommended for our MX-5’s. The answer is – surprising! People say it doesn’t really matter what you use in the car as long as it is changed regularly because most modern oils sold in the US right now are “good” and therefore no one is better than the other. That said many on the forums use Mobil 1 in their cars. And Mobil 1 sponsors quite a lot of Motorsport. So like sheep I went ahead and bought two 5QT jugs within the first year of ownership of my car and that is what I used. Until I became puzzled by the dark/black look of that oil when I changed it at 5,000 mile intervals. It did not seem right to me especially since Mobil 1 advertised the oil is good until up to 15,000 miles. Yikes!

The two Mobil 1 5QT’s that I bought were mysteriously priced low, at just $5 a jug… which is ridiculous. Normally the price is $25 at Walmart and $35 everywhere else from AutoZone to Advance Auto Parts. My alternative to Mobil in the second year of ownership turned out to be even cheaper to source. I decided to go with Pennzoil Platinum because again Pennzoil sponsored a lot of racing, some people on the forums swore by it (although there weren’t too many of those people, not nearly as much as Mobil 1 evangelists) and it was fairly cheap! Regularly priced at $25 to $30 from Walmart to the parts stores, but constantly on sale and with promotions from both Pennzoil and other sources that at some point cost me as low as $4 for a 5QT jug or in one case, I basically was paid to take the 5QT jug from the store after all the promos and rebates. (Pennzoil is famous for it’s $10 rebate or rather $2 per QT rebate up to $48 per calendar year, which is a lot of jugs). In 2016 I used Pennzoil Platinum exclusively. I liked it so much that I even got the Pennzoil Platinum High Mileage ATF for my JWS-3309 Aisin Transmission. Mostly 5W-20 felt amazing during the spring, summer and fall months. But using 0W-20 in the winter made the engine sound louder, which really perplexed me. I bought another 5W-20 jug to use later but also started considering alternatives, and now decided to start sourcing Castrol EDGE to try next.

There is a post I made two years ago after my last Mobil 1 oil change that I was contemplating trying Pennzoil Platinum and Castrol EDGE, and sharing that plan in a post created a goal which I am now going to meet. In 2017 I will run Castrol EDGE exclusively in my car and I’ve already sourced enough oil for 3 oil changes which is basically the 15,000 miles I plan to do in the coming year. I decided to go with the 5W-20 weight standard black bottle and not the gold extended performance bottle since I am only daily driving the car and not tracking it or using it in any kind of extreme situations. I do plan to make several trips to Florida which will rack the mileage up quickly, but also probably won’t require me to make as frequent changes as short trips in New Jersey would require with stop and go traffic, cold weather, etc. I am very much looking forward to giving this oil a go, and seeing how I like it compared to Mobil 1 and Pennzoil Platinum I already used. So far the standard has been set pretty high, but I have heard nothing but good things about Castrol and they are one of the big sponsors of the IMSA Mazda Prototype program which makes me feel like I’m supporting it directly now.

Price wise though I think the retailer is losing money selling me the oil because I’ve been taking advantage extensively of the Sears/Kmart ShopYourWay rewards program. Every time they sent me 5,000, 6,000 or 10,000 in points (where 1,000 points = $1) I immediately redeem them for another 1QT bottle or 5QT jug of the Castrol EDGE oil which they have in stock. Regular price for the 1QT bottle is $7.99+ tax. (Which seems ridiculous) Last one I bought with the 6,000 surprise point redemption only cost me $0.87 cents. Before that I redeemed 10,000 points and $5.50 for two bottles. The 5QT jugs which Kmart sells for $37 regular price I paid about $7 bux out of pocket after purchasing it in store on sale for $22.99+ tax, and redeeming some regular points and 4,000 surprise points. All in all an oil change will cost me under $10 for the oil and another $9 for the K&N HP-1002 filter which I sourced from Walmart. The good part about the four K&N filters I bought they were still Made in USA and not the newer style which are made in Korea (and for some reason people are complaining that their quality has dropped).

Now all I got to do is keep driving more so I can use up the oil quickly. 2017 is going to be an awesome year…

I should mention some of the other companies I support by using their products thanks to all the Motorsport advertising I’ve been exposed to:

  • BFGoodrich tires – I have two sets, one summer one winter
  • Sunoco Ultra 93 fuel – official fuel of NASCAR & IndyCar
  • BP 93 Ultimate – I know they sponsor loads of Rally racing
  • Mobil 1 lubricants in rear end, power steering, etc.
  • K&N oil and air filters, also official sponsor of NASCAR
  • Bilstein shocks – huge sponsor especially during Nurburgring 24h

I’m sure there’s more that I’ve used or will use in the future.

For those of you that support Motorsport sponsors in your shopping – kudos to that! If you don’t, and use the argument – why pay more when there are cheaper options? Well, as I’ve demonstrated above, it is possible to use brand name and pay less, way less. You just need to shop around… for me it’s a challenge that I enjoy! I especially like buying branded gift cards, like those from BP, ExxonMobil or Sunoco with 5% to 10% discount for each dollar spend, making my expensive Sunoco Ultra 93 fuel (which is typically more than a no name brand) a bit cheaper… considering fuel is about $2.60/gal at the moment, I’m paying 26 cents less a gallon, which brings the price right down to a low-cost option, and I’m buying a better product! That makes me feel good.

Support Motorsport Sponsors, please ūüôā

Mazda MX-5: Do Fuel System Cleaners Work? Trying Techron Complete Fuel System Cleaner

Does Techron Complete Fuel System Cleaner work?

Some say No! Others say they add a bottle once a year just to run the solution through the fuel injectors admitting that most brand name, Top Tier gas stations already carry detergents similar to what’s in Techron… for those on the West Coast or down South where Chevron stations are abundant, Techron already comes in their fuel. In the Northeast we are limited to BP, Shell, Exxon and Mobil as well as Sunoco among many other smaller brands like Valero, Gulf, Citgo and many no-name options… almost all advertise some sort of magic additive that cleans your engine as you use their fuel. But who know’s if it’s worth believing the marketing?

I came across a crazy AutoZone Techron deal that I couldn’t pass up. So I picked up a bunch of bottles to be used in all the family vehicles including a bottle for my Miata. It is recommended to be mixed with up to 12 gallons of fuel, which is the magic number of an MX-5 tank. One night I drove until the low fuel light came on, pulled into my local BP and added a bottle of Techron. Driving on this tank for the next few weeks didn’t yield any increase in performance, no significant mileage difference and most importantly no negative outcomes. I am due for an oil change soon and will report on the condition of oil… some people say that this additive turns the oil black and therefore it’s recommended to change the oil shortly after using the additive.

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I am curious what effect if any this thing had on my car. I have also used two bottles of this stuff in my Ford Explorer which has double the size of Miata’s tank and that car felt more peppy after the fuel up. The SUV also has 145,000 miles so it might really need a clean.

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The last bottle I will save for my father’s Dodge Grand Caravan, it’s still at least 3,000 miles away from an oil change so it’ll have to get it’s fuel treatment a little closer to the due date… I used Mobil 1 synthetic oil which I’m going to attempt to run for 5,000 miles total. Will report back if there are any interesting findings.

Of course this could all just be snake oil…

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Best Premium Fuel Brand for Top Gas Mileage?

One of my favorite talking points with car enthusiasts when speaking about my Mazda MX-5 Miata is the awesome fuel mileage I get, which usually results in some snarky comment how you’re not meant to notice gas mileage in a sports car… Well, on my latest Canadian Road Trip to marshal at Mosport I set out to test whether cheaper/lower ranked Speedway fuel was better than BP premium fuel I typically use. I noticed this phenomena on my last 3,000+ mile road trip to Florida and with 1,000+ miles done on this trip it was easy to see what was what. ¬†Or so I thought.

What did I discover?

Something most people probably already know… there’s little difference between the different brands of fuel and gas mileage can vary from the same brand gotten at different stations, depending on weather conditions, driving style, road terrain, etc.

I found that Speedway fuel is sufficient for me to use on most road trips where Speedway fuel is available because it does yield better gas mileage than ultimate 93 from BP (the one closest to my house).

However, when driving around town I find BP fuel gives far better performance than Speedway gas does which almost seems sluggish.

And those findings may make sense to some, while others will probably brush this very unscientific observation off. Speedway doesn’t have as many additives, and as such it probably burns at a slower rate which yields decent gas mileage when the car is cruising at highway speeds. However, when used in stop and go traffic especially during times where peppy acceleration is required it doesn’t perform as well. While BP fuel has more additives and therefore performs better when the right foot gives the gas pedal a workout, but on longer trips on the highway it is burned at a quicker rate without necessarily providing any additional performance boost. Or so I think…

The figures from my last Road Trip to Canada are as follows:

5/18 speedway paramus 9.760 @ 2.459/gal = $24.00
5/19 speedway cicero 7.779 @ 2.699/gal = $21.00
5/19 shell canada 27.155 @ 1.289/L = C$35.00
5/23 petro-canada 14.929 @ 1.239/L = C$18.50
5/23 speedway cicero 7.595 @ 2.699/gal = $20.50
5/24 speedway paramus 8.634 @ 2.399/gal = $20.71

Based on the conversion rate at the time, I spent $126.96 USD on a 1,155 mile Road Trip at an average of almost 33 mpg. I spent $86 USD and $54 CAD. I filled up 24 gallons in US and just over 11 in Canada, or better yet I put in 42 Liters in Canada (which probably wasn’t necessary considering I paid almost $10 US more per tank fuel up in Canada than I do here in New Jersey. But I did want to try their gas, and specifically Ultra94 from Petro-Canada which was advertised on the windshield banners of every Porsche Carerra Cup car racing this weekend. That fuel yielded the best mileage of the trip, 33.5 mpg while the rest of the averages brought the total down.

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9.760 gallons  Рstarted out with a full tank in NJ
7.779 gallons 255.4 miles / 7.779 = 32.83 mpg fill up in NY
7.174 gallons  232.0 miles / 7.174 = 32.34 mpg fill up in ON
3.943 gallons 179.5 miles fill up in ON
7.595 gallons 207.1 miles fill up in NY
386.6 miles  / 11.538 gallons = 33.51mpg combined ON+NY
8.634 gallons 281.3 miles / 8.634 = 32.58mpg Рlast fill up in NJ
——— average 32.815 mpg —–

Why was this fuel mileage much lower (by 2 to 3 mpg’s) than the trip to Florida? Because the road terrain going up to Canada takes me via the Catskills and Appalachian mountains, and it wasn’t uncommon for the car to downshift just to negotiate some of the steeper hills along the way. The most flat road was in Canada following lake Ontario.

I am very pleased with this gas mileage. The car has just hit 45,000 miles total. I am running Pennzoil Platinum full synthetic which has just hit 3,000 miles, I will run it for about another 5,000 miles before changing to the winter blend 0W-20 vs. 5W-20.

speedway premium gas comparison to bp ultimate

While generally speaking I stuck to the highway most of the time, keeping it at or just above the local posted speed limit between 60 and 75mph in US and 100 to 110 km/h in Canada… I did deviate a few times to get food… like this highly recommended stop at Heid’s of Liverpool near Syracuse to pick up a couple of hot dogs for the road. They were delicious!

heid's hot dogs syracuse miata mx-5 road trip

What is the Best Fuel?

Time for a very unscientific experiment to determine which local fuel option will yield the best fuel mileage with my MX-5 Miata.

People often laugh when I talk about¬†MPG’s and Miatas. Who cares? It’s a sports car, the fuel mileage is irrelevant… but after getting 36mpg on my recent 3,000 mile road trip, I’m quite impressed with fuel efficiency of my Mazda and would like to keep the MPG’s optimized as not all fuels are created equal.

What fuel I use is determined by what deal I could get on purchasing a fuel gift card on eBay. I’ve spend hundreds of dollars now buying discounted fuel gift cards and I think it’s the way to go. Most frequently I buy a $100 eBay Gift Card when they go on sale for $95 or $90 with 5% or 10% discount. Then I use that gift card to buy a $100 fuel gift card with 5%, 8%, 10% or 20% discount. Yes, there are that many discount options popping up on eBay now and again.

BP has been the most frequent card I’ve bought. Usually with around 10%-20% discount… so every gallon I put in the car I buy with a 10 to 20 percent discount, which¬†combined with the BP rewards program yields a pretty good discount on brand name fuel. But like I mentioned earlier not all fuels are created equal… and I’m not entirely convinced that BP, despite being ranked Top Tier, is any better than Speedway for example, which isn’t Top Tier. So I’m going to run an experiment¬†on¬†a road trip using Speedway rather than BP.

Using my 1,000 mile Road Trip to Canada tomorrow, I’ll be able to run at least half of the trip on Speedway fuel. The method is simple, I run the tank down until it’s time to refuel, then I fill up and use the odometer (Trip meter) to divide the total mileage done by the number of gallons from the fill up. So for example if I do 300 miles on a trip and fill up 10 gallons, I get 30mpg ¬†(300miles / 10gal = 30mpg).

With the last trip using BP fuel I got slightly less than that, 29mpg – which was pretty disappointing. I was hoping for something higher. Ironically after filling up at Citgo in rural Upstate New York near Watkins Glen I got a higher gas mileage than I did on New Jersey BP gas, 31.6mpg… which is significant, nearly 3mpg difference, or on a tank of 10 gallons that’s 30 miles more!

So lets see what happens with Speedway… if it yields better MPG’s I’m switching from BP and not looking back!

For those times when Speedway isn’t viable or available I’ve bought Sunoco and ExxonMobil gift cards, and on a recent trip to Palmer Motorsports Park to work with NER I was able to cash in my TIPs for a Shell gift card. So I’m prepared on all fronts, in US anyway. It will be interesting what kind of mileage I get on Canadian gas (which is significantly more expensive than US gas… like $10 per tank more).

The plan… I’ve just topped off at my nearby Speedway with nearly 10 gallons of Premium 93 octane. I will drive 250 miles to Cicero, New York where there’s a Speedway right off the Interstate 81, top off… then fill up again in Canada at Shell or Petro-Canada in Bowmanville which should last me for the duration of my trip there, and most of the way back to Cicero hopefully. Then the rest of the way home to New Jersey I’ll run Speedway gas again. So three tank-fulls will yield a good gauge of fuel mileage.

Prepping for a 3,000* mile Road Trip: New Jersey to the Gulf Coast of Florida

After two massive International MX-5 Miata Road Trips where my car sat in the driveway in New Jersey, covered in snow. I’m about to embark on my biggest Road Trip yet… actually driving¬†the¬†car. This trip will be about 3,000 miles down the Eastern Seaboard starting from Northern New Jersey just outside of NYC all the way down to the Gulf Coast of Florida. Destination St. Pete followed by Sebring.

Instead of taking the most direct route down, I plan to divert a little out of the way, for two reasons… both equally important to me:

  1. to avoid the pot holes and generally bad road conditions in the Northeast, including the Beltway around Washington DC
  2. to avoid all the tolls in the Northeast along i95 corridor, which based on my last trip to Northern Virginia were around $100! bux (round trip)

This post will also serve as a check list of sorts to help me prep for the trip. Considering how tiny the Miata is with luggage space I’ll really have to optimize the room I have to bring along all the necessities which include my camping gear for Sebring. It¬†will likely take up the most space.

The easiest things to bring along is plastic! And as the photo above shows I did stock up on almost every possible fuel gift card/gas card available. I used eBay to buy discounted gift cards for brands I knew I would encounter along the way as well as those that I could finish using back home if I didn’t get use them up on the road. Frankly I hope I don’t use up all the value of the cards while travelling because theoretically there’s far more money than the amount of fuel I will need to purchase. (3,000 miles, 30 mpg, 300 miles on tank, 3 or 4 fill ups each way, plus about 2 tanks of local use, at $25 – $30 per fill up) The cards I chose are BP – my favorite option at¬†home, also Shell, Sunoco, Exxon-Mobil and Speedway. In addition to the 5% discount eBay offered I used the discounted eBay gift cards to purchase these gas cards so the total discount was around 10%, which is much better than nothing. Additionally BP gives me 10 cents back per gallon for every $100 I spend on fuel to be used cumulatively for a one time fill of up to 20 gallons. And Shell has a new promotion where I’ll earn 25 cents off per gallon on one fill up of¬†8 gallons or more, purchase. Pretty significant savings even if the current price of fuel is relatively cheap.

One last comment on fuel. As a big endurance fan the ideal of fuel windows and conservation strategy is a big deal. The fuel window will really play an important role on my trip. Because I¬†will¬†be somewhat pressed for time to arrive in St. Petersburg, Florida before noon on Thursday, March 10, I have to make sure I don’t waste too much time looking for a gas station off the highway. The optimal solution would be to get fuel every 300 miles or so, since that’s what my highway fuel mileage should dictate. Of course it makes more sense to get fuel cheaply in Virginia than West Virginia or South Carolina vs. Georgia. So I’ll adjust the¬†fuel strategy a little bit to make sure I get the minimal amount of stops with the most cost effective fuel options out there. Having some play with the choice of fuel from BP, Shell, Sunoco, Speedway or Exxon-Mobil should help with this strategy. I would like to try to avoid buying fuel from a no-brand name gas station. But we’ll see I guess.

Now to the check list. As mentioned earlier the tent and other camping gear will take up most of my free space. The trunk of the Miata is already full with the RX-8 spare which I’m hoping I will not have to use, but should something happen at least I’m prepared. I plan to take the bare minimum of clothes, maybe one backpack full, but I will bring a few pairs of shoes in case it rains in Florida which it most probably will. This way I’ll have something comfortable to change into. The one thing I normally take on my trips like to Upstate New York or New England, I plan not to bring at all: food. I will avoid taking more than what I need specifically for the drive down because I can easily stock up on food and water along the way or at the destination. I’m definitely not taking any gallon jugs of water or tea which I normally take, because it’s just dead weight.

Based on my calculations the optimal way to go will be via i78 into Pennsylvania where I’ll pick up i81 all the way down through Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, then i77 from North Carolina into South Carolina where I will spend the night at a motel in Columbia after about 12 hours of driving. The final stint will be an easy 8 hour drive from South Carolina to Georgia via i26 and down i95 into Florida where I’ll probably take i20 just south of Jacksonville and i75 into the Tampa Bay area, depending on the local traffic at the time. If I leave early enough I just might make registration in time to be on track on the St. Pete GP street circuit to watch PWC GT cars practice. But IF I don’t, I will definitely arrive there in time to watch them practice as a spectator and maybe even take some pictures for the blog.

Concerns for the trip aren’t many other than worrying about any road debris hitting the car while driving. Stormy weather could be an issue especially up in the mountains. Pot holes of course. As well as parking safety when I leave the car overnight at the motel in SC or while at the events in Florida. But given that I don’t typically take out extra insurance coverage when I rent cars, I should be OKAY driving my personal car this distance. Should take it easy for the trip, avoid speeding and stick to driving during the day time so I can actually see the obstacles in front of me. Should be an awesome trip!

I am very excited!

Cheap Gas: Optimizing my Fuel Purchases

I like sharing good deals when I find them, and I’ve stumbled on to a great cheap gas deal that I wanted to share with the readers. I’m sure many have seen me talk about getting good gas mileage and gas prices have dropped to record lows in recent times, but to me it’s more about the challenge of finding a good deal than actually about the money. Although saving money obviously doesn’t hurt.

This information would only be useful to people living in the United States, and even then limited to those that can participate in the Rewards program of a gas station that isn’t available “everywhere”. But if you are like me, you’d feel pretty lucky taking advantage of the available offers.

So here it is… earlier this year I started buying discounted Gas Cards on eBay. I’ve purchased some from ExxonMobil, 76 and most frequently BP gas cards because they are often offered with a hefty discount, typically $95 for $100 card, or even $90 for $100 card. That’s 10% savings for buying something that you already use, I know I certainly do.

What I’ve discovered in addition to saving 10% for buying the gas card upfront, it also yields an $0.08 discount at the pump of my closest BP station. Now there are about six of them in the five mile radius of me, and only one offers this discount. And the discount is only offered on “Regular” or “87 octane” fuel, but still, it’s something that I use in the trucks in our household. (Miata uses 91 or 93 octane premium/super or BP terms: Ultimate fuel).

Recently, I discovered that BP has started offering a BP Rewards program, where for each dollar spent at the pump you earn a rebate which is used in lump sum at a fill up of your choice. The payment method doesn’t matter, you swipe your rewards card before fueling up, and you are free to use a credit card, a gift card like I do or just pay in cash. The transaction is recorded electronically and you are offered a discount at the next fill up. The current promotion running to the end of August is $0.25 per gallon for every $100 spent in purchases at BP. You have to decline the smaller discounts after each fill up until you accumulate the 25 cents, which could be a challenge because in New Jersey we do not pump our own gas and the gas station attendants either don’t understand or don’t listen to your requests, so I’ve started getting out of the car and doing my own selection before they pump my gas. It’s nice to get a discount. The $0.25 could be redeemed on a single fill up, so for me it wouldn’t make sense to use it for a Miata because of it’s 10 gallon tank when the trucks each could easily fit 18 gallons. The 25 cent discount could be compounded or stacked for each $100 spent, so the discount could be quite hefty. And considering I’ve spent over $900 this year already on buying gift cars (well with a 10% discount) that would have been a great tool to use had I realized it earlier. I’m already up to $0.17 closing in on my first $100 total.

The beauty of using a BP branded gas card at the gas stations in NJ is that you get the “cash” price for your fuel purchase vs. the “credit” price. These credit prices are often 5 to 10 cents higher than the cash price, so that’s a nice perk to have considering I buy my gas cards using a credit card and for each purchase I get frequent flyer miles which are very valuable to me to redeem for air travel. Since I make my gas card purchases on eBay I also participate in their eBay bucks / rewards program. Where I earn a small percentage back on qualifying purchases. BP gas cards qualify. And for each $90 I earn $1.80 back. So far I’ve redeemed $11+ back already towards the purchase of another BP gift card. Often I buy eBay electronic gift cards at $95 for $100 card, and use them towards the purchase of a BP gas card, which makes my $100 card only cost $85.

With all these savings I’m paying well under $2 a gallon for fuel!

How?

Well assuming fuel this week is $2.37 credit price:

$2.37 x 18 gallons = $42.66 for a full tank in the Explorer.

Now if I use the discounts, using gas card for cash price:

$2.29 cash price, $2.21 with 8 cent gas card discount, $1.96 with 25 cent BP rewards discount for the first $100 spent in purchases:

$1.96 x 18 = $35.28 for the same full tank in the Explorer.

Add this $7.38 in savings to the $16.80 I saved by buying $100 BP gas card through eBay (using $95 for $100 eBay gift card to purchase $90 for $100 BP card with $1.80 eBay rebate), that’s $24.18 in savings… ¬†and at $2.61 for Ultimate fuel, I can fill up a tank in the Miata for that price, which would last me for two weeks use.

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So the savings are pretty nice, and most importantly I love the challenge of getting the best deal available. Some may complain that this takes way more time than the money saved, but I disagree… Now if only I could find a similar scheme to get a better deal on some flights, I’ve yet to book my trips to Kuala Lumpur and Dubai, and if I could figure out a way of buying those tickets cheaper, I’d love it!