Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Gas Prices, Again... Or, Can You Really Save Money On Gas?

Well, here we go again. Gas prices have jumped up across the country like scared rabbits.

There are a lot of things you can do to save gas and it only takes a quick look around the internet to find lists and articles by the dozen that tell you to keep your car tuned up, keep the tires inflated properly, drive slower, gain speed slower, slow down slower, keep your gas tank full... the advice goes on and on, and you've probably done or are doing most of those things.

But how do you know, exactly, how much you're saving? With prices as unstable as they've been lately, how can you tell whether your tactics have saved you a few pennies or a dollar or two - or if they've saved anything at all?

That's the real bottom line, after all. Is it really saving you money, and if so, how much?

Here's how to find out:

  • Keep close track of your mileage and figure the savings potential according to the actual amount of gas burned per mile instead of dollars and cents. This will stand you in good stead over the long run.
  • You also need to track service done on the vehicle, because that can make a difference in gas mileage.
  • Then you need to remember when you bought new tires; that will make an impact, however small.
  • You'll need to buy the same brand and type of gas every time, because different fuel formulas produce different mileage potential.

I found a little program you can use to track all of this in one place and it gives you your exact gas mileage so you'll know whether the things you're doing are making a difference, and how much difference.

This nifty little program is called GasDandy and it really is a dandy. There's a free trial so you can see just how it works.

I guess we could consider these high gas prices to be a learning experience. Once you find something that saves you money when prices are high, it will still save you money when prices are low.


  1. Hi Pat, I really enjoy your tips and look forward to new content. I think it's great to keep track of your gas/mileage and figure out how many miles you're getting to the dollar. I realize that using GasDandy will calculate mile-per-gallon averages as well as keeping track of maintenance such as oil changes and tire rotations... but isn't this stuff you can keep track on your own _without_ spending $14.95 for it? I can't image that there isn't a freeware/shareware that does the exact same thing.

  2. Sure, you can calculate your mileage yourself. Lots of people do, without the use of anything but a pencil and paper. I haven't found freeware or shareware that will do everything Gas Dandy will, but you might. If so, let us know here?

    Have you downloaded the trial version? I played with it quite a bit before making up my mind and I decided that the graphing and reminders were worth it to make sure my car is running the way it should, and that I was driving it the way I should. It may not be for everyone, but some of us can definitely benefit from it.

    By the way, you have an interesting nickname.Is there a story behind it?

  3. You're right! There aren't very many programs out there in the first place. Highway Manager 3.03, Auto Maintenance Pro, Gas Mileage MPG Tracker are the major ones I found-- they might be all, in fact-- and none of them are freeware, though you can get trial versions. And it seems like Highway Manager 3.03 is the only one that is Mac-compatible. I couldn't download the free trial version of Gas Dandy because I'm running Mac OS X. $14.95 still seems a bit of a stretch, even still! Maybe I'm just being a scrooge about it.

    No story behind my name-- I just wanted something rather benign (some may disagree) and ambiguous enough to be anonymous in the world wide web.

    Please keep up your great blog. As I mentioned previously, I really enjoy your content. Thanks for all the great work you do.

  4. One of the real benefits of using software such as GasDandy (and probably others) is that the software will remind you when maintenance is due (such as oil changes and tire rotations) and by typing a few numbers you record all your data for up to three vehicles in one place. Also most people only calculate their average mpg per tank, GasDandy averages mpg per tank and then averages your averages. This removes any spikes you could see in the case you didn’t use all of the gas from a previous tank of gas etc.
    If you still don’t think that GasDandy is worth the $14.95 you can use it for free for the first five entrys and then delete your data and start over. But then you would miss the benefits of really tracking your data, hopefully catching problems before they get out of hand and saving you money! Don’t forget that GasDandy has an easy way to record all of your business mileage and it can print a nice report, that will pay for itself at tax time. Hope this helps.

  5. I don't know about the benign part, but ambiguous it is, acidspit. :)

    Thanks for bringing our attention to the other programs. Maybe I should blog about this, but maybe people will read the comments... anyway, of the three, none of them does everything that GasDandy does. Auto Maintenance Pro just records stats, loans, serial numbers, etc. and that's all it does. Gas Mileage MPG Tracker is limited to gas mileage, and the Highway Manager 3.03 wasn't easy to install... is it only for Palm devices?

    Thanks for your kind words. I have every intention of keeping up the blog.

  6. Thanks, James... appreciate your input!

  7. Hello again Pat,

    Id like to let you and your frugal readers know that I have made some important updates to GasDandy and the GasDandy website. First, I have added a new feature to the latest release of GasDandy. Now as you enter your data into GasDandy to calculate your average mpg, you will get an up-to-date expense report on your fuel costs. This will make it much easier to keep an eye on your total expenses. Also if anyone has an older version of GasDandy I can help them get their data into the newer version.

    On my website at http://www.gasdandy.com/gasdandy_single_trip_calculator.html I have added a free tool that is a simple trip gas mileage calculator. This will work from my website and there is nothing to download.

    Lastly for the people out there that still may be questioning the cost, there is a good comparison at http://www.carbibles.com/productreviews.html you will find that even frugal buyers can be happy with the price!

    Thanks again for giving me a great place to share my information with your readers.


  8. That's cool, thank you for the update, James. I went to look at the review you mentioned and found the link was cut off. I'll post it in two lines, and when anyone wants to read it, they can put it together:

    I really do like GasDandy, and for those who might question, no I do NOT get paid for saying so!