My best pal Michael Schulte is a automative fanatic in every sense of the word: not just a prize-winning autocross racer, but an absolute nerd when it comes to maintenence and statistics of even his daily drivers. Mike's the kind of guy that starts a file folder for every car the day he purchases it, stashing away car brochures and magazine reviews on the off chance he might someday need to put his cars in a museum. After Fuelly.com launched, I knew a website designed to help manage gas mileage (and more) would be right up his alley. I asked him to write up his impressions after a week or so using Fuelly. – Joel
In my driving infancy I relied on an Excel spreadsheet, logging gas mileage and fuel cost; I also kept a folder or pocket in the glove box for miscellaneous service paperwork that I thought I should archive. That idea has expanded over the years: at some point I developed a full blown obsessive/compulsive need to track total operational costs for my automobiles, framing — in clear plastic sheet protectors placed in a three-ring binder — every receipt of maintenance and every part purchased, the better to track things like insurance costs, 1/4-mile times, and even horsepower-per-dollar.
There's a full record available for each one of my cars, even the daily driver. I am fully aware of my disorder, but I have found over the years that there are thousands of gear heads, penny pinchers and green freaks that share part — if not all — of my obsession.
Thanks to a tip from Joel [My pleasure – Ed.], who is fully aware of my problem [Boy am I, Mr. What-Do-You-Mean-You-Lost-the-Receipt – Ed.], I took a peek at Fuelly.com. Now I have been using Gas Buddy for a few years in addition to my other methods for tracking fuel economy and cost efficiency of my vehicles, so I was a bit reluctant to go through my personal records and input these figures into yet another site. Still, after browsing the barely launched site I noticed a lot of great features that made me pull out the numbers and start plugging them in.
While knowing exactly what sort of mileage I get on average out of my car is nice, being able to share that data with others easily and compare it to people who might have the same car as me is fantastic. Even better: EPA Estimates for each particular model can also be compared. Once you input a few fill-ups — being able to do this right from the pump via mobile web is awesome — it becomes clear exactly how useful this site is.
There are handy suggestions and techniques that tell how to get better economy and figures associated with the car that show exactly what I would’ve saved had I kept my foot a bit more shallow in the throttle. Statistics are right there in your face for "Average MPG", "Current MPG", "Your Best MPG" — as well as trending information with clean, concise graphs, total fuel-ups over the life of the car, best pricing and the ever-important fuel operating cost per mile.
I’ve since spend a few minutes each day over the last week or so locking in my personal figures for each one of my cars. I started with my daily driver, a 2002 Honda Civic Si (Nickname: The Shoe), and put in all the my fill-ups for 2008. I moved on to the almost-brand-new 2008 Honda Civic EX-L that my soon-to-be-wife drives.
I’m currently in the process of sticking in the rest of the figures for The Shoe, although there are 158 fuel-ups in there already. There will be 100,000 miles of data soon. You can — if you dare! — sift through it. Try to find my experimental attempt to become a hyper-miler.
It’s not all about bottom-line fuel efficiency though. I guess it’s sort of fun for me to see the little graphs and figures, too. In a time where getting the most out of a gallon of gas is on everyone’s mind, I still happen to own two extremely inefficient Nissan 300ZXs that I take to the track, autocross and drag race. (I personally bring the overall average of the site down by several ticks.) Still, it’s interesting to see that if driven with a light right foot (as I try to do on my way to such events) that they too can achieve respectable mileage.
And though it sort of hurts, it’s interesting to know that I pay almost the same amount for regular pump gas today as I did for Aircraft fuel — the Racer's Friend™ — in 2004.
The website! [Fuelly.com]