I’m in the mood for some calculations. I paid $2.47 per gallon for gasoline last night. What will it cost me to drive to work this year, assuming $2.50 is the average I’ll pay?
I drive 80 miles to and from work (combined) each day. To make the calculation easy, let’s say each year I work 5 days a week 50 weeks a year. The total work-related miles driven in a year is 20,000.
A full tank of gas, if I ran the car (Honda Civic LX) all the way to an empty tank, will get me 375-400 miles at the very most. (Of course, I fill up well before I completely run out, but that shouldn’t matter for the calculation.) My gas tank fits 13.2 gallons of gasoline. Using the more realistic estimate of 375 miles per tank (400 would be stretching it), that’s 28.4 miles per gallon.
20,000 miles at 28.4 miles per gallon is a little over 700 gallons of gasoline a year. At the average price of $2.50 per gallon, that’s $1,750 spent this year on work-related driving.
Update: Frank over at Hello, Dollar! responded to this article with his own including tips for saving a few bucks including checking the tires, emptying the tunk, slowing down, driving sensibly, and using the air conditioner sparingly. These are good tips; in fact over this past weekend I cleaned out my entire car and inflated the tires to their optimal pressure.
Here are some more tips:
* Combine errands so you don’t have to go out as much, especially if it would mean going back and forth into “town,” similar to where I live.
* Buy the lowest grade fuel that your car will handle. Some people swear their car won’t run if they don’t buy super. It’s possible, but it’s probably worth it to test the theory if the decision was made based on someone else’s experience.
* Get a cash back credit card that rewards you for your gasoline purchases. The Citibank Dividend Platinum Select card has no fees and 5% cash back on purchases at gasoline station among other things.
* Keep your engine tuned with regular check-ups from a reputable mechanic. (But don’t waste money on dealership maintenance like I did earlier this year.)
Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published August 23, 2005.