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How to save money to chase this year.

Jason Foster

Since I live on the east coast (DC area) and have to plan a "trip" to chase, and that trip last anywhere from 10 days to 4 weeks, I really try to plan out my costs each year. Later on I'll have all my cost analysis charts on my website, but I'm looking for ways chasers save money.

I've been able to reduce my costs with the following methods:

Food
Tip#1
I try never to eat out at a restaurant or fast food. Instead, find a super market (or Wal-Mart superstore as a last resort).

Tip#2
If staying at a hotel, try to take maximum advantage of the free "continental breakfast".

Hotel
Tip#1
Stopping at rest stops and truck stops along the Interstates, usually you can pick-up the coupon books with discounted rates.

Tip#2
Try to pair up with other chasers and share a room. I chase with a group usually and almost always share a room.

Tip#3
Try a State Park with camping. (My Favorite is Clayton Lake in NE New Mexico). You can almost always find a spot, and some parks are self serve, so you can show up as late as you want. There are showers and bathrooms and they usually are quite clean. Some private parks and KOAs are good too. Pricing starts as little as $8 a night.

Gas
Tip#1
As hot as it is in the Plains, try to drive with the windows down, it is more efficient than with the windows up and A/C on.
http://www.questline.com/

Tip#2
This varies somewhat, but try not to fill-up near the interstates, the price per gallon is usually higher. Same goes for Metro areas.

Tip#3
Keep the roof uncluttered. As cool as all those antennas and weather stations look, they create drag and reduce mpg.

Tip#4
Slow down. If not chasing, try to maintain a slower speed. Not only will your mpg go up, but you can avoid those speeding tickets.

Vehicle

Tip#1
When renting a vehicle: Because the extra insurance (full coverage) is required if your gonna chase, and it can run $20 extra dollars a day from the rental company, I suggest (for those than can) get an American Express card (or check your credit card company) and ask about the car rental coverage.
AMEX charges $25 per rental, not per day, and they handle the claim and everything.

In 2002, when I chased with Weathervine, we trashed our Chevy Blazer (hail damage, crack windshield, 12,000 miles, rear suspension leaning to one side likely broken, dirt everywhere, air filter clogged with dirt, etc.). It basically was non-rentable, if not "totalled". We dropped it off and split really quick. As we walked away, I over heard the attendant saying "What the hell happened to this thing?" About two weeks later, get a call from AMEX, "Mr. Foster, there was a claim by ???? Auto Rentals, and we've taken car of it for you".
 
Gas
Tip#1
As hot as it is in the Plains, try to drive with the windows down, it is more efficient than with the windows up and A/C on.
http://www.questline.com/

Wasn't there an episode of Mythbusters that actually found through testing that driving with windows down actually resulted in worse gas mileage, due to drag? Granted, this was with a large SUV... so YMMV. They concluded that windows up and a/c on was no worse than windows up and no a/c... and the average mpg went down when windows are down.

However, I still do the windows down thing, so I'm not taking camera equipment out from a cool environment to a hot, moist one.

Scott
 
Wasn't there an episode of Mythbusters that actually found through testing that driving with windows down actually resulted in worse gas mileage, due to drag? Granted, this was with a large SUV... so YMMV. They concluded that windows up and a/c on was no worse than windows up and no a/c... and the average mpg went down when windows are down.

However, I still do the windows down thing, so I'm not taking camera equipment out from a cool environment to a hot, moist one.

Scott

I was looking on their site, couldn't find it (why I choose the other link), but the Mythbusters results were the same (Jamie's truck with the AC on ran out fuel first and Adam keep going for 30 extra minutes).
 
Ah, yes, that was the second test not using the equipment they had on board. Thanks for that, I had forgotten about that part... duh.

Scott
 
LOL, strange. I woke up and watched that very episode this morning. They also did one on drafting a semi. That one showed some huge increases in gas mileage if you are willing to get close. Hmmm, I may have to do some of that this year.
 
LOL, I've "drafted" semis for years, probably something to do with I used to be a huge NASCAR fan. As far as AC versus windows down, the latter may cause more drag, but the engine is worked harder running the compressor with AC, so IMO it's a coin flip. I like windows down and wind in my hair. Running the AC is such a foreign concept to me, but then again, I've never been "delicate" when it comes to needing creature comforts.

As for the overall topic, my money-saving tips are as follows:

Lose the software
Lose the laptop
Lose the GPS
Lose the HAM radio
Lose the wx-station

That will free up more than enough cash for paper maps, a scanner, and an antenna to use with it :)

EDIT: Last but not least, I only drink beer on Saturdays now. That's gonna add up fast :)
 
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I think gas will be much higher next spring than it was last spring, at least where the price starts out at. Sharing expenses with someone else makes a huge difference when it comes to gas, hotel, ect. I like the idea of bringing a cooler for food, ect., those stops at tasty greasy spoon restaurants really add up.
 
Tip#2
This varies somewhat, but try not to fill-up near the interstates, the price per gallon is usually higher. Same goes for Metro areas.

I thought the opposite was true. I thought the farther you get from interstates and civilization, the higher it goes, due to higher transporting costs, etc...? I do know very large cities have higher gas prices though.
 
I was looking on their site, couldn't find it (why I choose the other link), but the Mythbusters results were the same (Jamie's truck with the AC on ran out fuel first and Adam keep going for 30 extra minutes).

I seem to recall the opposite results from the episode. We should verify this.

Driving slower definitely will help your gas mileage - like 50 instead of 70, can make a huge difference. Of course driving with a tailwind as opposed to a huge headwind will make a big difference.

You can use the K & N air filters for your vehicle which is said to increase your fuel mileage by 1 or 2 mpg.

Also, inflate your tires to max pressure. This decreases drag, but will also decrease your smooth ride, and control - particularly on rain slick roads.

I'd recommend one of the best ways to save for chasing is to save before you go chasing - back home. Do whatever you can there to make those bucks add up. Then perhaps you'll have the cash to 'throw away' on your chase vacation.
 
Edmonds does't believe in the A/C vs windows down myth either.

http://www.edmunds.com/advice/fueleconomy/articles/106842/article.html#test4

Test #4 A/C On, Windows Up vs. A/C Off, Windows Down

This has got to take you back to the days with the family on vacation. Dad says, "Turn the A/C off! It wastes gas!" And Mom says, "We can't roll the windows down or everyone on the highway will think we can't afford A/C." And you're in the back roasting, hoping someone will win the argument so you can cool off.

Well, family psychology aside, if dads are still saying this, they aren't necessarily right. While the A/C compressor does pull power from the engine wasting some gas, the effect appears to be fairly minimal in modern cars. And putting the windows down tends to increase drag on most cars, canceling out any measurable gain from turning the A/C off. But this one depends on the model you're driving. When we opened the sunroof in our SUV, the mileage did decrease even with the A/C off. Still, in our experience, it's not worth the argument because you won't save a lot of gas either way. So just do what's comfortable.

Method: We drove the full 55 mile-loop in two cars at equal speeds both times — 65 mph. The first loop we drove with the A/C on and the windows up. The second loop we drove with the A/C off and windows down. In the second test we drove 20-mile loops. This was far enough to see our gas mileage level off and remain steady on the computer trip meter.
 
ive been saving soda cans, over a while it adds up very fast, 8 very full bags is like $40 i think. so if any of you guys drink soda, beer whatever? SAVE, SAVE, SAVE!!
 
My mileage on my minivan before I added all the junk on top, including a full lightbar, and after I added it, dropped a WHOPPING 1 mpg. I added a K&N Filter, which gave me a 2mpg increase, so I had a net 1 mpg increase overall.
 
You can use the K & N air filters for your vehicle which is said to increase your fuel mileage by 1 or 2 mpg.

Definitely! I installed a K&N FIPK on my F150 only a few months after I got it. I also replaced the factory exhaust with a Borla catback dual system. Easily increased my MPG by 3 or so. On a 30 gallon tank, that adds up nicely! Not to mention the extra HP is there when I need it.

Scott
 
My mileage on my minivan before I added all the junk on top, including a full lightbar, and after I added it, dropped a WHOPPING 1 mpg. I added a K&N Filter, which gave me a 2mpg increase, so I had a net 1 mpg increase overall.


Hi David, did you use a stock or hight performance air filter?
 
I always use the trip from Charleston out west as a gauge. I fill up the tank just outside of Charleston and see how far west I can make it before I have to stop. Mount Vernon, Illinois is the usual stopping point, a little over 6 hours away. I actually haven't noticed a difference with either 1.) the AC on or off and 2.) equipment on the roof, including a large cargo carrier.

If there is any reduction in MPG, it is probably so small that the monetary cost is negligible.

Here are a few of my tactics, some of these have already been mentioned:

1.) Carpool! 2 people cuts your costs in half. Four people reduces them by 75%!

2.) Hotel choice. Be willing to endure some less than 'five-star' hotels. We've also used hotels.com many nights to get decent rates.

3.) Sleep in the car if you're traveling solo. Be wise and careful about where you park so you don't make yourself a target for criminals and/or a subject to be harassed by suspicious police/security guards/property owners.
 
OK, I just finished the 2008 Costs Worksheet to help with cost planning. It is really designed for me, but can be useful for others.

Looking at the gas, that is definitely the place to save. For the past four years the prices surged between Jan 1 and May 1st. The past two years saw an $0.80 to $0.90 increase.....ouch. A 1mpg increase over 12,000 miles at $3.80 is a $105+/- savings.

Another savings tip I thought of. Get a credit card, or gas card that has a rebate on it. Some of the have a 2% to 5% rebate on a particular station, and some are not particular about the brand.
 
the reason i dont have the right equipment or too much else for that matter is due to inferior budgeting...this is a good thread...

with that said, i do have the affinity for a good budgeting system...my ex always used to badger herself and beat herself up because she had such a hard time keeping the bills paid, and keeping things on track...she made plenty of money, so that wasnt the issue...i told her that she wasnt a bad person, she just had bad budgeting skills and i pointed out some of her daily expenses...and boy howdy! do they add up!!

picking up things like snacks at the gas station, beer, clothes, food and all that...

it will add up sooo high you wouldent believe...for those of you with a bank account ATM fees and things like that will be the death of you in the long run...after reviewing receipts and whatnot...i found that out of a $200 paycheck, she had spent up to $60 on bull* at gas stations and mc donalds and whatnot, and then...she spend money on beer and some other things...leaving her about $50 to live off of to the next week!

needless to say, thats why the power got shut off...

simple things like that will make you more money for your chasing...

what i would do is this...put you some money aside every check...and ask yourself "do i really need this?" and if you find that saving that few extra dollars for your new wireless card or camera is worth more then the item you wanted to purchase...then save that money!!!
 
My mileage on my minivan before I added all the junk on top, including a full lightbar, and after I added it, dropped a WHOPPING 1 mpg. I added a K&N Filter, which gave me a 2mpg increase, so I had a net 1 mpg increase overall.

David, I thought K&N filters were a no-no. Supposedly they don't filter very well and lead to premature engine wear. Since you're the board's "car dude," I have to assume this 'common knowledge' is wrong.

Maybe the problem is insufficient oiling of the filter media? :confused:
 
I've never heard that. I've used them for years in ever vehicle I had and never lost an engine. Anyone I ever worked with or known that worked with vehicles swears by them. Especially out here in West Texas with all the dust.

Your right though, they have to be properly oiled. It's not the filter material that catches the crap, it's the oil in it. If it wasn't oiled properly a lot of stuff would get through.

EDITED TO ADD: If you oil them too heavily, some of the oil can get on the MAF sensor and could potentially cause false readings. This could flag a CHECK ENGINE light. It's easily remedied by cleaning it (the sensor) carefully with some spray carb cleaner.

I just googled some on Bad K&N....seems that the oil in the filter is what some are using as the reason they are bad for your engine. The amount of potential oil that might gets sucked in to your intact is very, very negligible. It will quickly end up in the combustion chamber anyway, where there is far more oil on the cylinder walls all the time than will ever come from that filter. The logic there just doesn't play out. The contamination of the MAF sensor due to over oiling the filter is the worst case, and again, an easy remedy if that happens.
 
I've heard the same thing about over-oiling the K&N's and causing problems, but I've yet to hear of anyone having an engine failure using a K&N. Now on one of the Mustang forums I'm on, some of the guys are using Amsoil air filters, which are another brand of high performance air filter. Supposedly those are better at filtering out small particles than a K&N. I've got the K&N FIPK and used it the last 15K miles, it's helped raise my mileage by 2-3 mpg. If you chase with a pickup truck like me, using a tonneau cover over the bed will also help raise your mpg a bit. I'd definitely say the K&N and bed cover have saved me some $$$ and are worth it.
 
Never liked A/C anyway. Windows down!! Much rather hear the crack of a loud thunderbolt!!
 
I bought a new (to me) 2004 Silverado this past fall. Since then I have added an aftermarket exhaust and K&N filter. Seeing on highway ~2.5mpg gas increase. Sat down and did some math and seems, with gas the current price, that it should pay for itself in about 30k miles. Not too bad.
 
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