Tag Archives: fuel mileage

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.

mazda mx-5 miata canadian road trip search for petro-canada ultra 94 fuel in ontario 6

9.760 gallons  – started 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 – last 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.

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.

bp cheap gas

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!