In a previous article, “Hybrids, the real cost of ownership”, we looked at some of the pros and cons of purchasing a hybrid. But what if you don’t want to purchase a new hybrid and are simply looking to improve your existing MPG rating by as much as 10-15%.
Since we compared the Corolla to the Prius in our last article, we will stick with the Corolla as an example here. The Corolla gets 28mpg, vs. the Prius which will take you to 51mpg in the city.
So to help improve things in our Corolla we will look at synthetic motor oils and gear lube. To change over to fully synthetic oils in our car you are looking at a price tag of roughly $300 for the synthetic oil needed. We will be changing the engine oil, the transmission fluid and the gear oil. While this is very much a “do it yourself” project, add at least another $100 to have a shop do this for you.
You can also add a sport air filter which will help your car breath better, and this will run you roughly $50 and can also be installed yourself or if you’re having a shop change your oils, then they would change this most likely free of charge.
Here are the final numbers. It gets technical so be wary.
So worst case scenario is you have spent $450 and assuming a base improvement of 10% which is extremely realistic and in most cases would be better. So the Corolla has now an improved fuel economy of 31mpg. You have spent $450 which assuming a gas price of $3.50 a gallon would buy you 128 gallons of fuel. AAA says the average motorist drives 12,000 miles a year, so over this time, you will save roughly 41 gallons of fuel. Also assuming the gas price never goes beyond $3.50 a gallon (which as of my writing this already has) you will save $143.50 a year.
So at this rate it will take you three years to recoup the cost of this modification to fuel economy. But we are talking cars so it is not quite that simple. We still have to change the oil even if it is synthetic, it doesn’t last forever. At 12,000 miles a year for the average driver, my personal recommendation would be to change the oil at least once a year. Assuming an all synthetic oil change again, and once again having a shop perform this for you, you’re looking at a cost of roughly $70 dollars a year. But here we save again, because using regular oil, you would require changes at roughly twice a year. Again assuming a shop does it, a regular oil change with regular oil will cost $40. So here on just regular maintenance we save an extra $10 a year.
So for quick comparison…
As our previous article showed, a hybrid such as the Prius will require a 10 year commitment in order to recoup the costs of added fuel economy. Whereas by doing this simply fluid change, you will recoup the cost in 3 years. So in short if you are talking dollars and cents, you are better off doing this simple fluid change. This doesn’t even factor in the cost of not having a new car payment. Until our next article happy motoring.