Sometimes a little extra math is a good thing.


I hate hype. Hype of any kind. The irony, of course, is that I work in television, where there at times seems to be a never ending supply. Nonetheless, I am resolved to keep it real for all of you. Always and forever.

And that leads me to address the dozens of emails I receive every week asking me about hybrid vehicles. It seems that four bucks a gallon has got a lot of you thinking.  But when it comes to hybrids, the hype and hysteria equal some pretty sloppy math.  Indulge me.

Let’s say you’re shopping for a new Honda Civic. It’s a great car. Especially because it gets 39 miles to the gallon.  It’s also one of the most reliable cars ever built and I would buy one in a heartbeat if needed.

So, at $4.00 a gallon, it will cost  $52.80 to fill its 13.2 gallon fuel tank.  And from that full tank you’ll travel 515 miles. Not bad at all.

And the price for your new Civic is, according to Honda, $15,805.00

But wait-what about hybrids?  An even better deal, right?

Time for a reality check:

The Civic Hybrid will score you 44 miles to the gallon. Which means your fill up will still cost you $52.80 but you’ll go 580 miles-an additional 65 miles.

But here comes the devil in the detail:  The Civic Hybrid will cost you $24,050.00. A whopping $8245.00 MORE!

SO…here’s my simple math:  for paying an extra premium of $8245.00, you can an extra 65 miles, using about  1 and ½  gallons less on each fill up.

That’s a savings of about $6.00 per fill up. AM and I crazy in thinking that it will take THIRTEEN HUNDRED fill-ups just to break even?

Look. I’m no math professor. But I know a good deal when I see one. And I know a stinker when I smell one.

So, I’m begging someone with a degree in mathematics to help me out. Is my math wrong?

Oh heck…how about someone who has completed 8th grade algebra.

 Am I as insane as some say? Or am I so absolutely dead on right that you feel, well, somewhat silly for falling for the hype.

But don’t feel silly. Just feel good because I’m your mechanic…and you and I always keep it real.

2012 Honda Civic                                                                        


$52.80 to fill up.      *@ $4.00 per gallon

Full tank range:  515 miles                                                        

Starting price: $15,805.00 

 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid


$52.80 to fill up.             *@ $4.00 per gallon

Full tank range:  580 miles

Doug Brauner is the Owner/Operator of The Car Czar Auto Repair Shops, as well as one of the leading automotive journalists in America. Store locations and coupons for FREE CAR REPAIR can be found at

Comments (9)
  1. Page says:

    Don’t hybrids also use electricity too? Don’t we have to keep them charged up for the additional assistance? All the research I have done on hybrids says they need to be charged to help maintain the effectiveness of the engine. If that’s the case, isn’t it more costly to have the hybrid? Power bill’s going to go through the roof. Thanks.

    1. Hi may be confused by other cars called “plug-in” hybrids. Standard hybrids of the type I describe use no electricity, but instead the batteries on board are “recharged” by the gas engine under the hood.

  2. Susan says:

    Wow, that’s 18 years if you fill up 6 times per month. -_-

  3. Hank "Propane Man" (Rick H) says:

    I must admit I M O math sucks! However even a math idiot like myself can do the figuring you have here and say your analysis is right on! I M O, hybrids are NOT the answer to our energy issues! There is NOTHING wrong with the basic premise of the internal combustion engine. A well built/maintained vehicle can be very efficient, and be earth friendly at the same time. Hybrids I M O are a government B S campaign to trick the ppl of the US into thinking they will save $, and reduce the “carbon footprint” and it the ppl eat that candy faster than the hod dog eating champ!

  4. -KFP-the-GFM says:

    Fantastic.My boyfriend Adam is just so stingy with money, he always overlooks stuff like this.

  5. CallMeBob says:

    I have been selling Toyotas for the last 10 years, and even though it’s my job to sell cars, I was constantly having the same discussion (especially when the Hybrids were in short supply!). It was worse when the first big jump came through a few years ago, everybody panicked and traded in their SUV, losing $10,000+ in value (and, since most financed, now you are financing your next $10,000 worth of gas) Dumb, but kept me busy.

    1. Tom Connolly says:

      I guess no-one really considered the better deal was in trading in the rusty clunker and gaining value AND gas milage.

  6. JOHN MILHOUS says:


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