Cerebral Gibberish

What's on my mind, might just blow yours.

Gas: Pain at the Pump – Reloaded

Posted by heymoe on 7th December 2008

Gas Pump

A little over 6 months ago I posted about having to pay over $4/gal for Premium Gas. What seemed like a never ending upward trend in gas prices, due to wall street speculators in the energy-futures market (IE: Crude Oil), has seen a rapid decline in the last month or so. I mean why base the price of something on actual market fundamentals when you can have speculators look into their crystal ball and set the price of something based on what they think the future demand for it is going to be. It sounds like a Win-Win right.. NOT!

In any case, today for the first time in my current car, I paid under $2/gal for Premium Gas ($1.889 to be exact). Total cost: $31.50. Prior to today the cheapest I’ve paid for gas in my current car was $2.219 back on 11/2006. Yes, I’ve been keep track of my mileage, gas prices, etc during each fill-up pretty much since when I bought the car. Call me crazy I guess.

Any ways, It would have been nice if the government would have been proactive to curtain index speculation in the energy markets instead of waiting for a melt-down in the financial markets, which the goverment themselves caused by turning a blind eye on the mortgage industry instead of enforcing the regulations that could have prevented or limited the mess we are in right now but I digress.

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Gas: Pain at the Pump

Posted by heymoe on 2nd June 2008

Gas Pump

The other day I, for the first time ever, paid over $4/gal to fill-up my car. The total cost of that fill-up was $71.15. It does not seem like it was that long ago that a fill-up was costing me under $50. Ahhh yes.. those were the days.. hehe.. I guess when I have kids I’ll be able to tell stories about how when I was their age gas cost around $1/gal and they will look at me and disbelief and call BS.

By the way, based on the owners manual, my car requires premium gas. I know a lot of people will say just use regular but I’m under the mindset that the maker of my car, who designed the engine, knows what octane the engine needs to run efficiently. I personally see the ~$3 extra I pay to fill-up with premium worth the peace of mind and that most people probably don’t really spend the time to calculate how much extra they would actually pay by using premium if their car needs it. Yeah, I know $3 adds up over time but frankly, like I said above, it’s a peace of mind thing for me and most people would just waste the $3 by buying a bottle of water or something else wasteful.

Any ways, I can’t say that I’m mad about the price of gas. Don’t get me wrong, it does suck but at the same time other places in the world, like in the UK, have been paying > $8/gal for a long time (It should be noted that ~70% of that is tax). I can only imagine what goes through their minds when they here about the bitching and moaning that us Americans are doing about the price of gas.

So far, I haven’t had too make to many changes to my driving habits. It’s not like I really drove around a lot in the first place. My round trip commute to work is only about 20 miles and if I have to go to a store I typically hit one of the many choices between home and work that does not add much to my trip. On the weekends I do try to plan trips so that I hit all the stores in a logical order to limit any back tracking. I’m also trying to ride my motorcycles to work more often since they tend to get gas mileage in the upper 30s to 40s. But with the recent 95+ (F) temperatures, the lack of AC on the motorcycle can make being stopped at light uncomfortable.

I guess the only thing to make things worse is that the prices don’t seem to be leveling off or going down. I believe the price of regular has gone up another .10 cents since I filled up making the price of regular $4/gal or very close to it. It will be a sad day when I have to pay three digits for gas which would mean gas would cost about $5.70/gal.. YEAH!

There has been one good thing to come out of the rising cost of gas so far. It has caused the demand for SUVs and Trucks to go way down to the point that the major vehicle manufacturers have stated they will scale back their SUV and Truck production. This is not to say that their production will stop completely. There is still a need for these types of vehicles when it comes to things like construction but a majority of their sales were to people that have no real reason to own one in the first place. Most people bought one as a status symbol or to compensate for something else. Some people will even say they are safer to drive but I think it really made the roads more dangers for everyone else. So score one for the higher gas prices!

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Get Smart

Posted by heymoe on 3rd March 2008

2008 Smart Coupe-2154

Yesterday I had an opportunity to get a close up look of a 2008 Smart Coupe which is a 2 seat, 3 cylinder vehicle that measures 8.8 feet long and 5.1 feet wide. It gets a gas mileage of 33 City / 41 Highway so with its 8.7 gallon gas tank you can travel ~287 – 356 miles on a tank of gas.

The Smart vehicles went on sale in the US on January 2008 and is part of the Mercedes Car Group. There are three versions of the Smart being sold in the US. Two are coupes and one is a cabriolet convertible. Price wise you’re looking at a starting price of $11,590 for the entry level “pure coupe” to $16,590 for the convertible plus any optional packages. I personally think it is a little pricey for such a small car but it’s still ~$5000 cheaper then the starting price of a Toyota Prius Hybrid.

I did try to get behind the steering wheel but my knees did not quite want to get under the wheel so I guess I won’t be driving one of these home anytime soon but I think it would be fun if I could. Oh Well.

More Photos Here (PicLens PicLens Button)

2008 Smart Coupe-2149
2008 Smart Coupe-2150
2008 Smart Coupe-2152

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Motorsports Expo 2008

Posted by heymoe on 6th January 2008

Motorsport Expo 2008-2022

I took a trip over to the fairgrounds today to check out the Motorsports Expo at Dorton Arena. This event raises money to send Wake county youths to summer camp. There was a lot going on especially for the kids. They had several blow-up play area and other activities like a NASCAR simulator. Of course then there were the cars and drag bikes for everyone to look at up close. I was hopping there were going to be more cars but I guess I need to go to an actually car show for that. As a bonus they were handing out free samples of Slim Jims most likely fresh from the Garner plant which I’m sure will make Justin happy. hehe. Any ways, I had a good time and it was for a good cause plus I was able to wonder around the flea market afterwards.

More Photos Here

Motorsport Expo 2008-2029
Motorsport Expo 2008-2041
Motorsport Expo 2008-2047

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A Hybrid Experience

Posted by heymoe on 26th November 2007

While visiting my Mom in Atlanta for Thanksgiving, I was able to drive her new Lexus RX Hybrid that she got almost a year ago. In general I’m not a big fan of SUVs or other vehicles that I can not see around or through while in my car since they block my ability to see whats ahead. This means I have to hope the guy in front of me is not busy talking on the cell phone or dealing with some other distraction that will cause them to slam on the brakes at the last minute thus making me have to slam on my brakes and hope I don’t rear end them. If I could see around or through the vehicle in front of me I would be able to notice traffic ahead slowing down make the necessary decisions on my own. Being that my mom is driving one now, I’ll make an exception for her.

The RX is not overly large and is designed to be driving on the road most of the time unlike the many uber SUVs that are really designed for the off road but are driven by soccer moms or purchased as a status symbol and will never see a dirt road in their life. On the outside I don’t think you could tell the difference between the Hybrid and non-Hybrid version of the Lexus RX if not for the different model identifier on the back. On the inside everything looks normal. Prior to starting the car the only thing I noticed was that instead of an RPM gauge there was a kW/h gauge. The big surprise for me was when I went to start the vehicle for the first time. The ignition system is the traditional “insert key and turn” and not the newer “push the start button” type. The inserting of the key and turning was as to be expected but not having the rumble of an engine starting was new. So new that I pulled the key out and tried again a few times thinking I did something wrong. It was not until my mom told me that if the “Ready” message was displayed you are good to go. So I put the vehicle into drive and released the brakes and we started to move forward. It was not until I started to accelerate that the gas engine came to life to help out. The next big surprise for me was when I came to a stop at a stop light. Upon stopping the gas engine turned off and everything was dead quite. I thought I stalled it or something but when the light turned green and I pushed down on the accelerator, the gas engine started again and away we went.

The information panel, which is also used for the navigation system and rear backup camera when purchased with that option, provides all sorts of information on the vehicle. It’s a touch screen which I admit is a nice feature that I wish my car’s navigation screen had and it did not take me to long to figure out where things are and how to navigate the menus. There is a Hybrid information screen, which I doubt the average owner would use all that much, that shows how power is being provided to the wheels (IE: gas engine or electric motor or both), when the batteries are being recharged (IE: by the gas engine which turns the electric motor into a generator or by the electric motor by itself when you are coasting or braking). Another screen shows your average MPG over the last 30 minutes of drive time as well as how much energy has been regenerated (IE: from braking and coasting) to recharge the batteries. In my mom’s case, she has an over all average MPG of 26.3 which seems low to me but better then the typical SUV or my car even. It looks like this Hybrid system really shines with city driving which I did not really do that much of. On the highway, the gas engine seems to be used the most to maintain highway speeds.

Over all I think I expected more from a Hybrid car in the form of MPG. 26.3 MPG does not seem to be all that special compared to newer gas or diesel non-Hybrid vehicles. Cost wise, it seems that any savings that one would gain from the purchase of gas over the life of the vehicles does not offset the additional cost of paying for the Hybrid technology over the non-Hybrid counter part. At least over the typical life time of ownership of a vehicle. On top of that I’m sure the maintenance cost of a Hybrid would also tap into any gains as well since it is new technology which tends to have higher costs in the form of parts or labor due to the mechanics needing specialized training, etc..

I guess for me after all is said in done, if my mom is happy I’m happy and its a good start to breaking us from having to depend on foreign oil. I personally will consider an alternatively powered vehicle in the future so if my luck with cars continue, that will be another 6-8 years which will hopefully see mass improvements over the currently available alternatives.

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Another Car Update

Posted by heymoe on 23rd September 2007

Took the car back to the dealer last Thursday to get the head light level sensor and a clamp on the bottom of the car replaced since they did not have the parts last week. They are also going to check out the new leak that popped up after I picked the car up last week.

When I got there and it turned out they did not order the retaining clamp but did have the head light level sensor so they were able to at least to that. The leak turned out to be to be a broken head light washer valve and not a coolant leak. They said that since this was a new problem they should have changed me my deductible again but said they would cover it this time. Granted if they did charge me my deductible again I would have bitched since I’m sure it was something that got broke when they took the front end of the car off to do the water pump. It looks like I’ll have to go to the dealer one more time to get that retaining clamp replace.. Joy!


Any ways, the dealer was getting their showroom ready for the unveiling of the new R8 road car later that day. The R8 road car was under covers on one side of the showroom so I could not take any pictures of it but they had a R8 Le Mans race car on the other side of the showroom so I took a few pictures of it. It’s an amazing looking car in person if I must say.

More Pictures

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Car Update…

Posted by heymoe on 10th September 2007

I got up early this morning to get the car to the dealer to get worked on. I called Audi’s roadside assistance and got the tow truck rolling. They originally said it would be 1 – 1.5 hours for the truck to arrive but luckily it only took them 20 minutes to show up. The tow truck driver was really cool but I don’t remember his name off the top of my head. Delivering the car to the dealer was interesting as we lowered the car into a parking space. At the angle it was being let down from the flat bed it looked like my car was going to do a face plant right into the road but everything worked out just fine.


After that I went and talked with the service representative to go over the items to be worked on. I provided her with a list of small nit-picky items on top of the 60K service, noise / coolant leak, wheel bearing noise check items. I then signed the paper work, was handed the keys to the 2004 A4 loaner and headed to work.


On a side note, back when I was car shopping, the A4 was originally on my list but after looking and sitting in them decided to get the A6 for more room in the rear. Driving to lunch today in the loaner re-enforced the fact that I made the right decision since Justin’s legs were pretty much smashed into the back of the front passenger seat. I’m pretty sure no one could have sat behind me in the driver seat since I had it all the way back for my long legs.

Any ways, I got an update call from my service representative at 5:10pm telling me that the water pump was definitely the cause of the problems and since coolant got on the timing belt both the water pump and the timing belt would get replaced under warranty. I told her to go ahead and replace all the other items related to the timing belt service while they were in there so it looks like in the long run this minor inconvenience will pay off. They won’t be able to tell me about the wheel bearing and a few other things until they get all that replaced and do a road test. They estimated I would get the car back late Wednesday or Thursday. They quoted me an unofficial and most likely high estimate of $800 when everything is said and done. I estimated that the timing belt parts and the added labor to do the work not covered under warranty would be $400. I expect the wheel bearing to be around $200 so we are close to the $800 but I’ll have to wait and see.

Stay tuned..

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