Getting Your Money's Worth?

By: Jim Freeman
By: Jim Freeman

Knoxville (WVLT) - Are you really getting your money's worth by pumping new ethanol based gas into your car?

Sure it looks like a bargain.

The price on the sign is more than a quarter cheaper than a gallon of regular.

But ethanol's got what some experts call a hidden secret, and it's in the fuel economy.

Volunteer TV's Jim Freeman has more on just how the numbers add up.

In our example, we saved about 5 dollars filling up on E-85.

But to get the same distance as a tank of gas, we had to put that 5 back into the tank, along with another ten bucks.

Lew Dickson of Knoxville says, "it'll be worth the drive to come and fill-up for about thirty-cents less."

Tim Thompson of Memphis says, "I didn't even notice it. I pulled over and now I look at it. Yeah, it's pretty impressive."

But you need to keep in mind that the experts at the EPA say E-85 gets you between 20 and 30 percent "less" miles per gallon than gasoline.

Twenty-nine cents difference.

It really looks impressive up on the big board. Doesn't it?

But how does it shake out when you put the pencil and paper to it?

We did just that and here are the results.

Let's say you drive a car with an 18-gallon tank getting 25 miles per gallon.

That's 450 miles on one tank of gas costing fifty-two dollars.

Enough to get you from Knoxville to Toledo.

Eighteen gallons of E85 saves you more than five-dollars, but gives you less mileage.

Dickson continues, "but I like the price. I like the price."

Based here at 25-percent less mileage than gas, the tank of E85 only gets you to Sidney, Ohio, more than 100-miles south of Toledo.

Meaning you need six more gallons of E85 to finish the trip.

So, you really end up paying an extra ten dollars to get you the same distance you can get on one full tank of regular unleaded.

Dickson says, "we do a lot of driving on the highway. So, maybe I won't be able to tell I'm getting one or two miles per gallon less. I hope that's the way it works out. We'll see."

Mike Bacon keeps pumping the E-85 regardless of how the numbers workout.

"I would get it even if it was a comparable price. I just think it's a better fuel."

Bottom line, for E-85 to be a bargain it needs to be 20 to 30 percent cheaper at the pump than a gallon of unleaded.

Not the case right now.

But remember, experts say E-85 is better for our environment and better for your gas tank.

If that's important to you, use it!

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  • by Kathy Location: Knoxville on Jun 9, 2007 at 03:15 AM
    You had said that there was a place that we could check to see if the number on our gas cap matches a number on your web site, but I can't find where that is on your site. Thank-You
  • by Scott Jones Location: Knoxville,Tn on Jun 7, 2007 at 06:17 PM
    On the subject of the E-85 cars. I thought when these cars were being developed, and Im sure I read this, most said that the sacrifice would be mileage. Plus, the whole idea of these cars are not so much mileage, but to help with green house gases! No, compared to other gasoline powered cars, its not the best bargain if thats what you seek in a car, but, if cleaning up the air IS a priority, these cars are the future, at least for now, until a better technology is developed. I kinda fel its not fair to compare E-85 cars to gas cars. Its truely an apple an oranges comparison. Well thats my story and how I see it. People need to realize these cars we made for better air quality, not mileage! Thanks for listening...........Scott Jones


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