High-Octane Excitement

Bob's busy with an investigation, so I thought I'd fill in with a celebration of the Sun-Sentinel's stalwart Help Team this morning. We've all no doubt noticed the big marketing push for the Sentinel's new creation, which debuted a few weeks ago. Taking a page from the San Francisco Chronicle, which employed a similar campaign to clean up the potholes and replace the burned-out traffic lights of the Bay Area a few years ago, our local team is really on top of things. This weekend, for example, cuddly Help Team elf Steve Svekis helped us out by showing what a bargain 89 octane gasoline is. Like Steve, I drive a car that makes a racket if I put in low-octane gas. To avoid the knocking and pinging, I usually fill up with 89 octane, which seems to quiet my motor nicely. But as Steve points out in his Saturday column, 89 octane is merely a mix of 87 and 93 octane gasolines that the station stirs up and charges a few cents extra for. Steve helped us all out by explaining what a bargain this mix really is. See, you could save a few pennies by swiping your credit card, putting in some 93 octane, then starting over again with another swipe of your credit card and topping off with 87 octane, creating an 89 octane mix in your tank. But Steve showed how truly idiotic this is, because letting the gas station mix up that concoction for you and filling up directly with 89 octane, you only end up paying about $22 more in a typical YEAR. Whew! And here I thought I might be paying too much for this small convenience. No way! Now I can fill up with total confidence, thanks to the Help Team's awesome watchdoggedness. Of course, Steve was under the impression that folks like me might actually want to save those pennies by turning my gas station visit into a trip to Mr. Wizard's science lab, getting swipe-happy with my credit card and measuring out a two-to-one liquid octane cocktail in my car. Shya right, Steve. But hey, way to stick it to the MAN, Help Team! - Tony Ortega

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