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Many Factors Affect MPG

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author photo by Autotrader July 2008

How You Drive
Quick acceleration and heavy braking
can reduce fuel economy by up to 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent around town. New EPA tests account for faster acceleration rates, but vigorous driving can still lower MPG.

Excessive idling decreases MPG. The EPA city test includes idling, but more idling will lower MPG.

Driving at higher speeds increases aerodynamic drag (wind resistance), reducing fuel economy. The new EPA tests account for aerodynamic drag up to highway speeds of 80 mph, but some drivers exceed this speed.

Cold weather and frequent short trips can reduce fuel economy, since your engine doesn't operate efficiently until it is warmed up. In colder weather, it takes longer for your engine to warm, and on short trips, your vehicle operates a smaller percentage of time at the desired temperature. Note: Letting your car idle to warm-up doesn't help your fuel economy, it actually uses more fuel and creates more pollution.

Cargo or cargo racks on top of your vehicle (e.g., cargo boxes, canoes, etc.) increase aerodynamic drag and lower fuel economy. MPG tests do not account for this type of cargo.

Towing a trailer or carrying excessive weight decreases fuel economy. Vehicles are assumed to carry only three hundred pounds of passengers and cargo during testing.

Running electrical accessories (e.g., air conditioner) decreases fuel economy. Operating the air conditioner on "Max" can reduce MPG by roughly 5-25% compared to not using it.

Driving on hilly or mountainous terrain or on unpaved roads can reduce fuel economy. The EPA test assumes vehicles operate on flat ground.

Using 4-wheel drive reduces fuel economy. Four-wheel drive vehicles are tested in 2-wheel drive. Engaging all four wheels makes the engine work harder and increases crankcase losses.


Vehicle Maintenance
A poorly tuned engine burns more fuel.

Improperly aligned or inflated tires can lower fuel economy by increasing rolling resistance.

A dirty air filter or brake drag make your engine work harder.


Fuel Variations
Some fuels contain less energy
than others. Using oxygenated fuels or reformulated gasoline (RFG), for example, can cause a small decrease (1-3%) in fuel economy.

The energy content of gasoline varies seasonally. Typical summer conventional gasoline contains about 1.7% more energy than typical winter conventional gasoline.


Vehicle Variations
Small variations in the way vehicles are manufactured and assembled can cause MPG variations among vehicles of the same make and model. Usually, differences are small, but a few drivers will see a marked deviation from the EPA estimates.


Engine Break-in
New vehicles will not obtain their optimal fuel economy until the engine has broken in. This may take 3-5 thousand miles.

Source: www.fueleconomy.gov
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/factors.shtml

To learn more about conserving gas, check out the AutoTrader.com Going Green lifestyle center.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Many Factors Affect MPG - Autotrader