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June 27, 2008


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in the south "official State" reststops do not sell gas. I know this to be true in at least 10+ states.

I always park in the first open spot and I ALWAYS beat others looking for better spots to the entrance. Never fails. Not to mention the saved gas. I'm sure that adds up over time. Plus, us fat Americans could use the exercise. Oh wait, I'm not fat. I wonder why? :)

I rented a car this past weekend when we went to visit my family. We filled the tank the night before but when we did, we left the key in the ignition so that we could watch the gas gauge. As soon as it hit the full mark, we stopped pumping. Usually, the needle will go past the full mark when the tank is completely full. You can guarantee another gallon or two is taking up that space. Maybe it's not ethically the right thing to do, but the car was registering full and it probably saved us somewhere between $4-$8!

--They also suggest choosing the station furthest from the exit ramp because it will likely have the lowest prices and be less crowded. I didn't know this (and am not sure it's even true.) Can anyone verify or deny these claims?--

In Rawlins, Wyoming the freeway exit price was $4.09 several weeks ago. We were staying with friends 1 1/2 miles into town (which was still directly off the exit ramp, no side roads). The gas station across the parking lot of our friend's apartment was selling gas for $3.85.

Another tip I've heard recently is to fill your tank early in the morning instead of later in the day when the temperature is higher. Gas expands like as any liquid and you will get more gas at a lower temperature.

@Mo: I've also read that that's not true. Gas is stored underground, where the temperature remains fairly constant throughout the day. Thus, any differences in volume will be negligible.

@FMF: I will confirm that usually, though definitely not always, gas is cheaper further away from the Interstate. However, the difference isn't always worth it to drive all over the place, especially in an unfamiliar area, looking for a cheaper fill-up.

It's very true that stations further away from the interstate are often cheaper. The same actually holds true for major thoroughfares. I've seen it where the same branded station on a major 5-lane artery is more expensive than the same branded station a mile over on a smaller 2-lane artery.

To address a couple of the comments below:

I've heard that the thought about filling up early in the morning is an urban legend and that it doesn't make a difference.

I've often noticed that the gauge goes past the F mark but I think that's by design, at least in the GM cars I've always driven. Because, I've pushed it once or twice where the needle goes down to E, yet when I fill up, I know that there was at least a gallon of gas left in the tank based on the size of the tank. I don't think you're wasting gas putting it in past the F mark. The only way I've heard you waste gas to that effect is when you 'round up' by adding more after the automatic stop, because the extra just goes to waste.

Drive slower, you'll get better mileage. If you're in the midwest, don't buy ethanol blends unless the price break is close to 10% (it's usually about 2-3%), because you get about 10% worse mileage with ethanol blends.

I am about to head out for vacation tomorrow, and I am planning on taking it a little slower than normal. The speed limit is 70, and we used to go along at near 80. last trip we went about 72 and were still passing people. So this time I am planning on finding a nice 68mph group and sticking with it as long as possible. How to make up for the lost time? Well, we are going to stop for less time and perhaps eat in the car. Slowing down helps so much because after 60mph, the engine is spending most of its power on simply moving air out of the way, not moving you forward!

"You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.30 per gallon for gas."

I'm always in the first group. I park in the back. I enjoy the walk, and there is less of a chance that someone will ding my car parked further out.

*Michael*- The other thing you need to watch when 'topping off' your tank is spilling fuel. If you pay for it and spill it, that's like negative gas mileage. =) Also, if you overfill the tank the gas can (and will) get into the charcoal canister (emissions stuff) on your car. That's bad, and can trigger a check engine light. They are usually kind of expensive too; the last one I installed (on a Corolla) for some one was over $200 and that was a used one from a wrecked car; new from the dealership was about $600. That's why when the pump shuts off I quit pumping.

*Chris*-Slowing down I think helps more than anything. If I go 80 in my xB, I get around 27-28MPG. If I slow down to 70, I can get about 31 pretty easy. If I'm traveling 2 lane highways and go 60 or so, I've seen a few 37MPG tanks. Hell I'll wake up and leave earlier for that kind of savings.

I don't know what they mean by "official" rest stop. The article mentioned something about being named after people and on the New Jersey turnpike? It's been a while since I've driven on the Florida turnpike but I can say that even with the expensive tolls, they still jack up the price of the gas at the turnpike rest stops because it is more "convenient" than exiting the turnpike and getting back on. I always tried to make it through the entire toll section whenever I used the Fla. Turnpike before getting off for gas.

Over Memorial Day weekend we took a trip from Chicago to Pittsburgh, and I recall the gas prices at the rest stops in Ohio (I-80 East) being very reasonable (i.e., the usual price - not jacked up). I was surprised, as I expected them to gouge those passing through the state, but they didn't.

Of course, $.30 here and there seems like peanuts if you start looking long term. $7 gas by 2010? I am starting to plan on it:

I always go to the parking spots the farthest out. I never have to wait for a space and I get a little exercise too. Trying to park around Christmas time is another story which is why I have done all of my gift shopping on line for the past four years.

Depends on the weather. If the weather is nice, I always park at the first spot, or even farther from the entrance on purpose. This gives me a little extra exercise, also decreases risk of someone's hitting my car.

If it is raining or very cold I'd try to find a spot closer.

I completely disagree with the last two. I just got done with a roadtrip from Missouri to Michigan and back and found #3 and #4 to be completely wrong.

#3) I found that the stations with the cheapest gas were the giant truck stops like Pilot or Loves off an exit with no other restaurants or stations. Often these would be $.10 - $.15 cheaper than at exits with multiple stations, i.e. $4.15/gal average most places... $4.05/gal at Pilot or the like. I couldn't tell you why it's cheaper, but it was.

#4) I found that "offical" rest stops have highest prices. They are "official" because they have many options for food, gas, hotels and some area attractions. You'll know when an "official" rest stop is coming because you'll see 100 billboards advertising businesses at the same exit. I assume it's more expensive because they are "official" and have such a high demand.

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