Friday, March 28, 2008

Going premium

Well, I knew what I was getting in when I bought my '03 Volkswagen Passat. The minimum octane rating is 91, meaning I have to buy premium gas here in America. That was back in 2004, just when the gas prices were beginning to rise.

However, they still are rising, and I notice that there is 30 cents difference between regular unleaded and premium. Should my car go regular unleaded (octane rating of 87 or so)

Brian, my colleague at work and friend, showed me this website from USA Today:

Why use premium gas when regular will do?

I read the article - sure enough, it is a reasonable argument that I could go lower - but however the article seems to be for cars whose engines are not designed for premium. Premium does absolutely no better on the non-premium designated engines than the regular unleaded would do.

But my car engine is designed for premium.

I decided to email my service advisor over at Volkswagen dealership on Shawnee Mission Parkway and I-35. His reply:

"About the gas, well you can put regular in it, but I wouldn't recommend it. I have found that over time the fuel injectors will build up carbon deposits on them and the car will start running real rough. The fix for this is a BG fuel injection treatment that costs $113, so it almost seems like you would end up paying the extra anyways. If you have any questions or any other concerns please let me know."

Hmm. So, I made a calculation here how much I would pay for gas at 3.50 a gal. I put in gas twice a month, thrice every other month, at estimated total of 15 gallons at every fill up.

6 months: 30 gal x 6 = 180 gal
6 months: 45 gal x 6 = 270 gal
Total gal a year: 450 gal

450 x 3.50 = $1575

Not to mention those trips I have been making to MN ...

But anyway. Suppose I use regular unleaded, at 3.20 a gal. The cost would be $1440.

If I use regular unleaded instead of premium, the savings would be $135.

According to my advisor, the fuel injector cleaning would be $113. How many times would I need it cleaned? Once a year? I save $20 ?

It does not seem to be worth it to sneak down a couple of grade just to save money, and also my car engine has high compression, making it necessary for higher octane.

Besides, I am deaf and if I used gas that is too low in octane, I would not be able to hear "pinging" in my engine (the effect of using too low octane gas) which would damage my engine over time.

Ok, so premium it is. $135 really does not seem to be a difference, even to a frugal moi :)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Vote for Informix #1!

Come over to vote Informix for Channel Insider's #1 database product of the year!

Vote Informix as #1 database product of the year

Informix made a lot of headlines this year and the past year. Why Informix? Because I work for Informix at IBM :)

Information on Informix:
The Official IBM Informix Site
International Informix Users Group
Informix Zone
IDS Architect's Blog on Informix
IBM Informix Dynamic Server to deliver support for Mac OS X

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Free pizzas all week

Free food is always good, but not good if the food is junk :(

I got this coupon from Papa Johns for a free large pizza with two toppings, because the last time they delivered a pizza to my place, it was very late (I did not notice though). I found out it would expire on March 17, so I rushed to redeem the coupon last Sunday, sharing the pizza with my friend/neighbor Jenn. There were leftovers enough for 2 meals.

Then last night at Spin Pizza, the pizza was partially burned, only at the end crust, but still very edible. The waitress apologized and gave me another pizza! Now I have an entire pizza as a leftover, and that would last 2 or 3 meals... so there you go... a week full of pizza. Gulp. Good thing I joined a gym recently. Just gotta commit to it.

Monday, March 17, 2008

car (or house down payment?) paid off!

I am so happy that I finally own my car tonight after the final loan payment is made.

I bought the car back in March 2004 and was almost done with it (around 2k left) by Nov 2005, until I decided to take out a $5,000 loan against my car (as a collateral) to pay for some of my house down payment. The reason I did that is that the mortgage payments would be much lower, and a collateral loan using my car was only 3% through the Think Credit Union in Minnesota. The mortgage rate is 5.625% so there is obvious savings there.

The car/collateral loan was around $330 monthly but I decided to pay $500 monthly to make the life of the loan shorter. Starting last January, I increased the payments to $700 so the loan would be paid off in March. The payment is made from my US Bank checking account automatically on the 17th of every month. So I was expecting to see $200 deducted from the checking account because that was what's left on the loan.

No. By checking my US Bank account, I saw $700 deducted on the 14th of March! I called the Think CU rep and she told me that the automatic payment system is not smart and it does not know how much what is left on the loan. And that she had to fax me the form to authorize the cancellation of the automated payment!! Wow. I am not pleased with all of this extra work just to stop the $700 a month payment even if the loan is paid off!

What is even worse... she cannot refund the money back to my US Bank account. She has to mail me the check.

Ugh. At least the car is mine after today... so I guess in a sense, my house down payment is also paid off today.