I\’ve been keeping track of my car\’s gas consumption for over two years now. While this was mostly an exercise of curiosity, having the data available has allowed for making informed decisions. For example, a sudden inexplicable decrease in mileage could indicate a potential problem that needs to be looked at. Or if you\’re trying to adjust your driving style to improve efficiency, this provides a good feedback mechanism to determine the success of your efforts. While generally assumed to be a tedious task, over time I\’ve, come up with a streamlined system that has virtually zero hassle/burden.
The first thing to do is setup a repository to store this information in. I chose Google Docs for a couple of reasons:
- It is universally available for adding/checking data (ie. I didn\’t need to wait till I get to my own computer).
- The data is stored in the cloud and I didn\’t need to worry about losing my data or backups.
- For a simple task like this, it has all the required functionality I would have used in an equivalent desktop application like Microsoft Excel or Apple Numbers – and its FREE!
I set up the spreadsheet as shown in the image above, with the following columns:
- Date – to record the date you refilled
- Cost – the total cost of refilling
- Gals – gallons needed to refill
- Price/Gal – cost per gallon
- Miles – miles travelled since last refill
- Mileage – effective miles per gallon since last refill
Out of these, only the Date, Cost, Gals and Miles need to be manually entered for each refill. Price/Gal and Mileage can be automatically calculated using simple formulas. For example, to set up the formulas for the first entry (which would be in the second row):
Price per Gallon = Cost / Gals
D2 = B2 / C2
Mileage = Miles / Gals
F2 = E2 / C2
Would do the trick!
Collecting Data – Gas Station
Now, that we have the spreadsheet setup the next step is to use a no-hassle mechanism to update the spreadsheet with relevant data. This is what I do:
At the gas station:
- Refill my gas tank completely.
- Have the pump issue me a receipt - this will contain Date, Cost, Gals all of which you need for your spreadsheet.
- On that receipt, note down the number of miles since last refill – you can use one of the trip odometers in your car to do this
- Reset that trip odometer.
Now you have all the information you need to add a record into your spreadsheet on that tiny receipt issued by the gas pump. You can store it in your wallet until such time you get to a computer either at work or home.
Recording Data – Google Documents
Once you get to a computer, things are easy:
- Log into google documents.
- Open up your spreadsheet.
- Copy the last row of data you had entered.
- Paste it into the next free row (this will copy the relevant formulas as well).
- Modify the duplicate row to reflect the new data.
- Save and you are done!
This is all you need to do to keep track of your own gas consumption and mileage! Soon it will be a painless part of your routine. As mentioned above, the results of my own efforts at doing this are posted as \”2005 Scion tC – Actual Gas Mileage Data/Analysis\”.
Feel free to comment with questions/suggestions.