Thursday, February 3, 2011

Premium Gas

Premium Gas adds about a 10% premium to the cost of fuel.  Is it worth it?  If it doesn't do anything for you, well, then, no.

Many performance cars require premium gas.  Is it worth it?  Probably not.  By purchasing a car that burns premium gas, all you are doing is increasing your fuel costs by 10%, which over the life of the car, could be a lot of money.

For example, suppose you buy a small SUV that gets 20 miles per gallon.  Gas right now is running about $3 a gallon in most places, and $3.30 for premium.  Over a 100,000 miles of usage, you will burn about 5000 gallons of fuel, which at $3 a gallon is about $15,000.  Not an insubstantial amount of money, to be sure.  Note that you could knock $5000 off your gas bill simply by going to a 30 mpg vehicle!

But premium gas adds another $1500 to the overall cost of fuel.  Is this significant? Well, if I dropped $1500 on the ground, you'd pick it up, to be sure.  And while the savings might "only" be $125 a year, you'd still stoop to pick up $125 if I threw that on the ground.  That is a nice dinner for two with a bottle of wine, right?

The deal is, for most people, the difference in performance (if any) between a regular and premium-graded fueled car is minimal.  We are not racing in the Indy 500, nor do we need 300 HP under the hood to go buy a quart of milk.  So in effect, when you buy a car that burns premium gas, you are increasing your vehicle costs for no apparent benefit whatsoever.

Now, I am sure there are legions of morons out there who will say "Well, I can afford the extra $125 a year!" and while they may think so, in reality, the way people go broke in this country (if not from medical bills) is $125 at a time.  Folks let their expenses "creep" over time - a dollar here, $10 there, and pretty soon, your monthly budget is busted wide open.

The secret to living well is to spend less and don't spend on unnecessary things that provide little or no benefit to you - the cold cost/benefit analysis thing.

For me personally, I don't see that owning cars that burn premium gas (and I owned four of them until recently, now we are down to just two) has provided any tangible benefit to me, in terms of improvement in transportation quality.

What I have learned over the years, is that in terms of transportation, where you go is more important than how you got there.  And if having an expensive car means that you can't afford to drive it anywhere, well, that sort of defeats the purpose of owning a car.

Going on a vacation to the Grand Canyon is a lot more fun than sitting in your front yard admiring a fancy car that you can't afford gas for.

My next car will burn regular gas, and not require prescription tires or prescription motor oil!