23 Amazing Fuel Facts You Might Not Know

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Many of us know too little about gasoline, which is surprising because it’s one of the most consumed resources in the world. It comes with a rich history peppered with fun facts and if you know how it really works, you can maximize the fuel efficiency in your car.

Here are 23 fun facts that may increase your appreciation for the resource that makes the world go 'round:

1. Out of all the countries in the world, Norway has the most expensive gas prices at an average of $6.26 per gallon.

Don’t feel bad for Norwegians just yet!

They’re so rich they can afford these prices. On average, Norwegians bring home $272 every day, and each gallon of gas sets them back only 3.5 percent of their daily income.

It’s actually a steal compared to Indian drivers, who, on average, have to fork over 85.74% of their daily wages for only a gallon of gas.

2. The average regular gasoline price in the U.S. reached an all-time high of $4.11 per gallon during the 2008 recession.

We all felt excruciating pain at the pump during the week of July 7th, 2008.

3. As fuel prices rise, so do cookbook and cookware sales.

More expensive gas equals less dining out.

4. Out of all the states in the U.S., California has the highest fuel prices.

Why? Two reasons:

  • California’s fuel taxes are among the highest in the country at about 40 cents a gallon, which is 10 cents more than the national average.
  • To improve air quality, California only allows a special type of fuel that’s more expensive to produce than regular fuel.

5. Drivers in the U.S. own 25 percent of the cars in the world, but account for around 44 percent of the world’s fuel consumption.

Why is that? The answer is simple: we Americans are car-dependent because the U.S. infrastructure is built around cars.

6. In 1859, the first U.S. oil well was dug in Titusville, Pennsylvania.

Called the Drake Well, it’s currently a museum that's also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

7. When the early settlers struck oil, it was met with disinterest because they were actually drilling for water.

Oil didn’t become a valuable commodity until the late 1800s during the rise of oil-fueled lamps. That’s when petroleum refineries started cropping up. Speaking of which…

8. In the 19th century, gasoline was thought to be so worthless that petroleum refineries would simply throw it away.

History repeats itself, doesn't it?

9. It takes 23.5 tons of ancient, buried plants to produce 1L of gas.

We all hear about oil being derived from ancient dinosaurs, but many of us don’t know that it’s actually formed from other animals and plants, as well. Oil is the result of the earth’s crust exposing buried fossilized remains of ancient plants and animals to high heat and pressure without oxygen for hundreds of millions of years.

10. Running an air conditioner in your car may reduce your mpg by 5 to 25 percent.

Want a better solution? Driving with the windows down reduces your mpg by up to 8 percent.

11. If you let your car idle for two minutes, you will use as much fuel as if you had driven one mile.

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of a popular myth being busted!

A lot of people believe that shutting off your car and then restarting it eats up more gas than if you had left it running. It’s simply not true, because…

12. Half an ounce of gasoline is all it takes to start most cars.

There are 128 ounces of gasoline in a gallon. That means you spend about 1/100 of a cent every time you start up your car.

13. For every 100 extra pounds carried, your car can lose 1-2 percent of fuel efficiency.

If your car runs about 25 mpg, having an extra passenger will bring it down to 24.5 or 24.75 mpg.

14. A cargo carrier atop your vehicle may reduce fuel economy by up to 25 percent on the interstate.

Consider hauling your cargo in a hitch rack instead. Unlike a roof rack, a hitch rack will maintain the aerodynamic shape of your vehicle without drastically reducing your fuel economy.

15. Accelerating and braking too fast can reduce fuel efficiency by about 3 mpg.

Here’s another fun fact: accelerating too slowly also reduces your fuel efficiency because it prevents efficient upshifting. A good solution? Accelerate and brake normally.

16. The best driving speed for optimum fuel efficiency is 55 mph.

For each 10 mph over 55, aerodynamic drag reduces fuel efficiency by approximately 5 mpg.

If your car gets 25 mpg:

Speed Fuel economy
55 mph 25 mpg
65 mph 20 mpg
75 mph 15 mpg
85 mph 10 mpg

17. The slower you pump gas, the more fuel your car gets.

Squeezing the gas pump actually costs you money. The faster you pump gas, the more gas -- which you’ve already paid for -- turns into vapor. When you’re done pumping, all the vapor in your tank gets sucked back into the pump. You want to get as much gas in liquid form as possible, so pump slowly.

18. You get worse gas mileage in the winter.

Your car’s gas mileage in 20-degree weather is 12 percent lower than in 77-degree weather. Cold weather drastically reduces your car’s fuel efficiency for a multitude of reasons, some of which are:

  • Wasted fuel due to decreased traction on icy or snow-covered roads
  • Slow driving and frequent braking on slick roads
  • Defrosters, seat heaters, and blower fans using up the car's energy
  • Winter gasoline blends producing lower levels of energy
  • Excessive idling to warm up the car

19. When introduced in 1908, the Ford Model T ran at about 25 mpg.

Here we are 109 years later with a nationwide average gas mileage of 25.4 mpg. Before anyone asks why we spent the last century not trying to improve the fuel economy of cars everywhere, let us point out that today’s cars are much heavier and more powerful than the original Ford Model T.

The iconic Ford model weighed only 1,200 pounds and ran on a 2.9-liter 4-cylinder engine that produced 20 horsepower. The average SUV today weighs 3,470 pounds and pushes out about 300 horsepower. When you take these factors into consideration, you'll come to realize that we're constantly creating motors with better fuel efficiency.

20. The first diesel engine was powered by peanut oil.

At the 1900 World's Fair in Paris, pioneering German engineer Rudolf Diesel demonstrated his compression-ignition engine by fueling it with peanut oil. The original plan was to use whale oil, but he couldn’t afford it.

Diesel’s engines were supposed to run exclusively on vegetable oil, but then he decided to switch to petroleum fuel when it became cheap and widely available in the 1920s.

21. If you drive a large truck, van, or SUV, your average fill-up roughly equates to a single barrel of crude oil.

You can get 19 gallons of pure gasoline from a barrel, which contains 42 gallons of crude oil.

22. The European Union wants to increase the average fuel economy to 64.8 mpg by 2020.

The International Council of Clean Transportation reports that Japan is next at 55.1 mpg, followed by China at 50.1 mpg.

23. The word ethanol is short for ethyl alcohol and can be produced from biological sources such as corn or sugar cane.

Regular gasoline in the U.S. contains about 10% ethanol. It’s the most environmentally-friendly alternative that can be used in today’s gas guzzlers because it:

  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 59 percent.
  • Burns cleaner than gas, so it keeps harmful chemicals out of the air.
  • Shrinks the environmental footprint of fuel transportation because it can be produced domestically.

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