Tag Archives: Sunoco

Mazda MX-5: 1,000+ mile Road Trip from New Jersey to Ontario, Canada for Victoria Day Speedfest

Happy sesquicentennial anniversary Canada!

I had no idea Canada turns 150 until I saw all the colorful banners at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. My 500+ mile road trip north was for the same reason I went last year. Victoria Day Speedfest event is an excellent combination of racing series at an amazing facility that makes time fly because you’re having fun.

Unlike last year the weather went completely haywire. On the first day it was warm but super windy. In fact the first order of business upon arrival in Bowmanville was to head to my favorite Poutine place to pick up a big plate of fries with gravy (which I ate in the car, parked at Turn 2 watching cars on track)… driving there I thought there was a sand storm, the wind whipped up all this dust it was hard to see the road in places. Next day it was cold. The following day cold and sunny, so I was freezing and got sunburned. And race day it rained which meant one of the feature PWC series got cancelled. But nevertheless I had a blast!

As usual took lots of pix:

Gas station food… it’s different in Canada!

1st Place Fries at Race Track gas station… yep!

…off to the track we go!

Welcome to Mosport!

Watching the test day activities from Turn 2.

Ironically, throughout the weekend I had the most unexpected favorites. The Micra Cup certainly kicked ass… it almost killed us at Turn 9 on Saturday as two cars lunged at us rolling in the process hitting the tire wall pretty hard while we scattered away. Both drivers walked away but it was a scary incident. Pinty’s Series did an amazing job racing in the wet on Sunday. Who says NASCAR doesn’t do rain tires? They certainly do… while PWC cancelled their Sprint X event because the track started ponding in some areas. But then the rain let up and the final race of the weekend took place… Canadian Touring Car Championship ran, but with half the field chickening out.

I tried to organize a Miata meet-up during the weekend. I failed for the second year in a row. This time I posted on Miata.net but apparently in an inconvenient thread because some dickhead jumped on me for hijacking the thread. And a few more assholes joined in the chorus speculating I must have voted for Trump because I made such a massive mistake posting in a thread where Ontario Canadians responded what cities they live in. To me that was the most appropriate post, but needless to say my efforts were wasted. Nobody wanted to meet. I did see several Miata’s at Mosport. One NA even gave me the flip up headlight “Hello” as I flashed my lights at him driving down towards Mosport Road, but that was that.

I did get a chance to visit my favorite gas station in Canada again… and refuel using the grade of fuel that sponsors the Canadian Porsche GT3 Cup series… Ultra 94. I suspect because of the rain and cold weather I never got better than 33mpg which kind of sucks. I wanted to match 36mpg’s from last year’s trip.

More pix:

Just like in the US, the gas prices differ station to station. So note-to-self for next trip… the Petro-Canada in Cobourg, Ontario has the cheapest price along the 401… also important to remember that just like Sunoco Ultra 93, not all stations carry that grade of fuel. I foolishly visited two gas stations ready to fill up, only to pull away from them because they didn’t sell Ultra 94.

Final fill up in Canada, $40 CAD for half a tank of gas. Oouch!

Similar fill up at Sunoco south of the border… but with a more favorable rate.

Ultra 94 is all over the place at Mosport though, so I’m happy to do my part and support Petro-Canada rather than other Canadian stations like Ultramar, Husky or even Esso in favor of those that support local Motorsport.

I think the highlight of the trip was when my Google Maps GPS welcomed me back to New Jersey! That took me by surprise…

I almost forgot to mention… a few miles before the Canadian border at the Thousand Islands crossing I hit quite the milestone in my Miata 66,666 miles!

That’s the second time this year I’ve rolled over all 6’s, last time being in Wes’s Crown Vic driving it from Pennsylvania to Texas.

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  – 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!

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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!