Last drop


Mrs R. was given a voucher by the supermarket. It offered 10p off each litre of fuel next time we filled up the car. It was valid for 2 weeks.

I wisely calculated that ten pence a litre is worth a lot more if the tank is almost empty when you fill up. I had two weeks to use up a whole tank of fuel in order to get best value from the offer.

I drove everywhere that I could. As the fuel level dropped I kept an eye on the digital display that told me how many miles remained before the tank was empty. The display was a bit fickle. Sometimes it displayed a higher number at the end of the journey than at the beginning. At other times it dropped alarmingly on the shortest of trips.

Finally the display told me that twenty miles remained. I set out on a 12-mile round trip. After two miles the little fuel pump icon illuminated with a beep and the display said “Refuel now!” I ignored it. When I got home the display indicated that five miles remained in the tank.

I drove to the supermarket – a distance of 1.2 miles. The display still said five miles. I hoped that there would be a queue for the pumps, but there wasn’t. I wondered if I should drive around the block to use up the last drops in the tank. I wanted to wring the maximum value out of my voucher. Common sense prevailed. I filled up and collected a discount of £5.10 on my 51 litres of diesel.

At home I checked the fuel tank capacity. It is 55 litres. I missed out on 40p. I also now know that when the display says “5 miles” I could still drive another 40 miles before lurching to a halt.

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