by Becky Badar
If you’re looking for ways to tighten your monthly budget, there’s an unexpected place you can look: Your garage.
No, we’re not telling you to sell your car (although that’s certainly an option). Rather, it’s time to take a closer look at the way you drive and take care of your vehicle. Both of these habits can make a big impact on your wallet ‒ even if you’re not getting behind the wheel as often as you were before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here, (And if you’re looking for affordable car insurance, we can help with that, too.)
WHAT IS GAS MILEAGE?
Gas mileage (also known as miles per gallon or MPG) is measured by calculating the number of miles that a vehicle can travel using a single gallon of fuel. Fuel economy is another term that’s commonly used. It’s often referred to in relation to improving fuel efficiency — which means using less gas when you drive.
HOW CAN I FIGURE OUT MY VEHICLE'S MPG?
Since 1977, auto manufacturers have been required to publish some form of miles per gallon metric on new car labels. For modern vehicles, this includes ratings for city, highway and combined MPG values.
In general, vehicles tout better gas mileage during highway driving rather than city (i.e. stop and start) driving. But the combined MPG rating, which represents 55% city driving and 45% highway driving, provides a quick and easy way to compare the fuel efficiency of gasoline vehicles — which is especially helpful if you’re shopping for a new car. You can find these values for your current vehicle through a quick internet search.
If you want to measure the real-world gas mileage of your car, it’s easier than you might think. Follow the steps below from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy:
- Step 1: Top off your tank. Fill your tank all the way up, then record the current mileage from your odometer (or set your odometer’s trip meter).
- Step 2 : Run it out, then record your numbers again. Once it’s time to fill up again, record the new odometer reading as well as the number of gallons it took to refuel.
- Step 3: Subtract your readings. If you used the trip meter, you can skip this step. If not, put those elementary math skills to use and subtract your first odometer reading from your second to see how many miles you traveled on one tank.
- Step 4: Do a little division to determine your MPG. Take your figure from step three and divide the number of miles you drove by the number of gallons it took to fill your tank. Your final number is your MPG for that driving period.
WHAT'S CONSIDERED "GOOD" GAS MILEAGE?
Getting good gas mileage means that you can travel further using less gas.
As a general guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has designed a fuel economy rating that evaluates vehicles on a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best). These numbers can also be found on new car labels. For the 2020 model year, vehicles earning a 1 rating return an MPG of 14 or less, while a score of 10 requires 44 or more MPG.
But there are a lot of other variables that factor into this ‒ from the type of vehicle you drive to the way you drive it. And all of these can add up when it comes to how much you end up spending on gas.