The importance that we place on saving fuel and the lengths that we go to save it may have changed quite a bit over the years, but the way we quantify those savings hasn’t. The old-school, two-way average is just as valid a means of checking fuel economy today as it was over a century ago, and likely will remain a century from now.
The key is consistency, especially when you’re attempting to quantify the effectiveness of changes you made to your automobile or driving style.Warning if your check engine light is on, don’t waste your time doing a gas mileage calculation.
If your car lacks a working Trip Odometer, you can still calculate your mileage using the primary odometer. Before starting your trip, write down the odometer reading; remember that the last number to the right usually highlighted in a contrasting color read tenths of a mile per gallon. Perform the test as described, but when you get to the Gas Station, note your new odometer reading. Subtract the old reading from the new one to get the miles traveled, and then divide that by the gallons used.
Plan a route through a location, and at a time, that mimics your daily commute or the conditions in which you typically drive. In the real world, pure city and highway figures are fine for discussion, but combined cycle testing that incorporates both city and highway testing will give you a more useable estimate. The specific distance doesn’t technically matter, but longer distances at least 50 miles will give you the most accurate fuel economy estimate.
Pull in at a gas station, and fill your tank until the pump stops. Reset your trip odometer. Even if you plan your route perfectly, you’re apt to be off by a few miles. A one-mile miscalculation on a 50-mile trip will result in a two percent change in measured fuel economy; not much, but every little bit counts when you’re talking about accuracy. A GPS-based odometer is even better since it eliminates mechanical variables, but the normal trip odometer should be fine for the most part.
If you would rather just plug in your numbers into this gas mileage calculator check it out.
Leave the gas station, and drive the route you’ve designated. Remember, time of day is just as important as the route itself. You’ll learn very little about your car’s real-world economy testing it at 2 a.m. If you live in a city and your daily drive starts at 7 a.m.
Finish your drive, and return to the gas station where you filled up. Refill the tank until the pump stops, preferably using the same pump that you used before. A faster-flowing gas pump at a different station may cause fuel to back up prematurely, causing the pump to shut off earlier than the previous one. Using the same pump will eliminate this variable.
Note the gallons used. Divide the miles on your trip odometer by the gallons used, and you have the car’s combined-cycle miles per gallon. If you wish, you can test highway-only miles per gallon by filling up next to the interstate, driving 25 miles or so on the highway, turning around and re-filling at the same gas station. You can test city miles per gallon by planning your route on a mix of faster and slower city streets, assuming you haven’t done so already.
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