Understanding the Fuel MPG On Your Vehicle

February 12th, 2014 by

Gas PricesWith gas prices rising every year, knowing that the days of $1 per gallon are long behind us, we all consider our Fuel MPG (Miles Per Gallon).  Whether you are curious what your current vehicle is getting, or considering buying a new or different vehicle, or even a hybrid, to get better gas mileage and reduce your expense, we will try to dispel some myths, and provide some useful facts, to help you make the right decision.  The truth may surprise you.

We are going to review, getting better MPG out of your existing vehicle, and what do the EPA MPG ratings mean on new cars – and why you may not be getting as much as your vehicle is rated for.

In our thread of Bruce Titus Automotive Groupblogs, we have discussed regular maintenance of your vehicle.  You will notice that in every scenario from Transmission Service to Tire Pressure, one of the benefits of maintaining your vehicle is better fuel consumption and improved MPG performance. This is true regardless of your vehicle make, whether it is aSubaru or a Ford, Jeep or Mitsubishi, a well maintained vehicle runs better, and uses less fuel.

First, we are going to start at the basics.  With all of our technologies, we are all guilty of relying heavily on the information provided.  However, it has been reported that technology provided MPG information can be off by as much as 7%.  Now that may not seem much, but when you are really trying to crunch the numbers, it can definitely skew your view.  Also, lest we forget, not all vehicles on the road are brand new with instrument clusters that tell us our current MPG, miles to empty and a host of other wonderful information.  So if you want to figure out your real average miles per gallon (MPG), fill your tank until the pump shuts off.  Do not add more, just to that point.  Document how many miles are on your car and how many gallons you put in, and drive your vehicle normally.  When it is next time to put fuel in, fill your tank until the pump shuts off, record your miles and the number of gallons put into the tank.  Subtract your miles for the number of miles travelled, divided by the number of gallon put into your tank.  This is your average miles per gallon.  Now, it is best to do this over 5-6 fill ups to get the most accurate information, but this will give you a realistic view of your MPG usage.  There are also a host of phone apps and online sites for Fuel Tracking.  You just enter in your miles and fuel gallons and it will track it all for you.

So, now you know your vehicle is getting horrible gas mileage, you want a new car.  What do you do?  Well, this particular story is not about buying a car, we will tackle that in a future article, but you do need to decide if you just want a new car, a brand new car, ahybrid, or an electric car.  There are so many options to consider.  So, for the sake of this article, we are going to look at buying a new car.  You go online or to the car lot, and you look solely at EPA Fuel Economy Estimates, the sticker on the side of the new car.  You think you would like an SUV and you find their ratings range from 14 mpg to 25 mpg.  Is that good? Bad?, so you start looking at little cars, and you see they range from 25mpg to  almost 40mpg.  Well that is definitely good, right?  and then there are the Hybrid’s their sticker says that you will get 98 mpg and save $8,000 dollars a year, that is fantastic!  right?!

As with any purchase decision you shouldn’t make a choice based on just one factor.  There are many factors to consider beside MPG.  Will this car be driven mostly on the highway or in town?  Read that EPA sticker carefully.  You will find on that Hybrid, that it gets the standard amount of MPG for its vehicle class on the highway, most Hybrid systems only kick in when you are going under 35 mph.

Where do you drive your car?  And we are not just talking about city or freeway driving.  Do you have kids?  how many? do you often volunteer for the soccer car pool? Do you like to go kayaking, camping, what do you need to haul in your car.  Hybrids and electric vehicles tend to be designed with the in city commuter in mind.  They drive to work, in and around high congestion areas with speed limits below 40 and often at a crawl, generally not hauling more than their dry cleaning or an occasional friend, co-worker or shopping bag.

EPAThere are some great small cars like the Nissan Versa, that get excellent Gas Mileage, without being hybrid, or the Subaru Impreza Wagon, which is rated at up to 35mpg highway, and is an awd, full size vehicle.  Weigh all of your needs before making  a purchase.
New vehicles whether or not they are rated high on the MPG scale, get better gas mileage because the computer and sensor components in new vehicle help the engine run at peak efficiency.  Looping back around to, whether new, nearly new or old.  Maintenance is your best defense.
However…..here are some general bullet point ideas to keep your MPG at its best.

  • Your right foot, can be your biggest reducer of fuel consumption.  When driving, maintain an even controlled speed.  Traveling on the highway, use your cruise control.  Less chance of getting a ticket and you will see improved fuel performance.
  • Change octane levels if you can.  If your owner’s manual does not specify Premium or Mid Grade fuel, there is no reason to use it.
  • Maintain your vehicle tire pressure to factory standards and specifications.  Keep good tires, in good condition, low tread and balding tires, are not just a safety hazard, they affect the performance of you vehicle.
  • Change your air filter.  When you are in for your regular maintenance, and the service advisor recommends you change your air filter, this is for a reason.  The improved air flow allows your car to perform at peak efficiency.
  • Regular oil changes:  Follow you maintenance schedule and keep the life blood of your vehicle clean.  Your car will thank you, and so will your wallet at the pump.
  • Change your spark plugs.  This is a standard part of your 30-60-90k maintenance and is critical maintenance for keeping your car running at its best.
  • Don’t idle your car.  Sitting in the driveway waiting for someone…turn off your vehicle.  Now, for those of you over about 35, you were probably taught that idling burned less fuel than turning it off and on, while this might have been the case in your dad’s old Ford, the newer fuel injected engines no longer require the chug of gas to get going.

So you have bought a new car and it says you would get 27 city and 35 highway, but you find that you are not getting these numbers.  This is probably one of the top 5 concerns forService Advisers when people have purchased a new car, who are counting on the EPA Mileage Statement on the car.  Here are some things to note, as always, there is some fine print.

The statement on vehicle is made by a protocol designed by the EPA.  The following statements are also on the sticker…somewhere:  Expected range for most drivers____ to _____mpg.  and Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.  The same factors are involved.

One factor that some don’t understand is actually under use.  While it varies by manufacturer, all things about your vehicle from MPG to warranty to maintenance schedules,  are based on a formula of average miles driven, city and highway, average weather conditions.  As with any “average” formula, there are extremes to both ends.  When it comes to driving, there are all sorts of extremes.  Some people are road warriors, whether they are commuters or regional representatives. Then there are the stay close to home type.  Maybe you live in an urban area with good public transportation and only use your car on the weekends, or perhaps, it is just weekly trips to the local grocery store. This will significantly lower your average MPG.  This is contrary to thought process, where some feel that if they are driving very little than they should be getting better than average MPG.  However, if you will notice “City” is always lower than highway.  Why? because of the stop and go, inconsistent gas depression, causing an inconsistent use of the fuel, therefore lower gas mileage.

Regardless of the make, model or year of your vehicle, it comes down to what you need in a car, and adjusting your driving habits, and maintaining your vehicle.

All Bruce Titus Automotive Group dealerships work on all Makes and Models of vehicles, and have the tools and resources to help you get the most of your vehicle and maximize its average miles per gallon.  You Can Count Us to have trained Service Advisers, Parts Representatives and Technicians on hand to meet your needs.

Ready to make the step to a New Car or affordable pre-owned vehicle?  You Can Count On Us, to help you find the perfect car that will meet your needs and your budget.

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