How to Check the Fuel Efficiency of a Used Car

The fuel efficiency of a vehicle relates to how far a car can travel per unit of fuel used. Not only does it reflect the car’s impact on the environment, but, most importantly for buyers, it also determines how much the vehicle will cost to run. In fact, a recent survey discovered that fuel efficiency was the number one consideration prospective buyers made when selecting their car. In the case of used cars factors such as time, poor maintenance and usage can all impact greatly upon the miles per gallon a car can achieve.

Therefore, it goes without saying that whether you’re a buyer or seller, knowing how to check the fuel efficiency of the used car in question is paramount. This article will aim to explain the simple steps you can take to check the fuel efficiency of your car.

Understanding the Math

A car’s fuel efficiency is known as ‘miles per gallon’ (MPG). In layman’s terms, this represents how far the car can travel per gallon of gas used. To work this out for yourself, you simply divide the capacity of the car’s tank by the distance you drove.

Tip: The best time to work out your MPG is right after filling your car.

Odometer Reset

If the used car in question is a more recent model, it should have a ‘trip odometer’. Usually found in the center console or alternatively on the dashboard, this can be set to zero at the start of a journey to record the distance travelled. If this is set to zero when the car is filled, it will record your mileage since it was refuelled.

Not to worry if the model you’re buying or selling is a vintage gem! Just write down the current mileage number of the car, fill your tank, and when it’s time to refuel, jot down the new number. Then it’s as simple as subtracting the old number from the new and you will have the miles driven on the current tank of gas. This is known as the ‘final mileage’.

Tip: You can record this information at any time, but aim to run the tank down until it’s nearly empty – the fuel efficiency results will be more accurate the less gas the car has in its tank at the end.

Fill Up the Tank

This next step may tug at the purse strings a little, but to work out the vehicles ‘fuel usage’ you need to fill up the tank completely. It is best if the tank is as empty as possible before you do this, as this exercise is telling you the fuel capacity of the car, or more simply, how many gallons it takes to fill the tank.

Doing the Math

Now that all the information is gathered, all that is left to work out the vehicle’s fuel efficiency is some basic math. Simply divide the mileage by the fuel usage. So for example, if you drove 260 miles and your car was filled up with 10 gallons of gas, the fuel consumption of your vehicle is 26 miles per gallon (MPG). If you drove 328 miles on 14 gallons, your MPG is 23.4.

But what does it all mean?

In relation to fuel efficiency, the higher the number achieved in your fuel consumption calculation, the more fuel efficient the vehicle is. Basically, the car will go further for less. Good MPG varies between vehicle type, with large SUVs commonly using more fuel per mile than a small family car. On average though, anything above a score of 20 MPG is good to very good. Scores of 18 or lower can be considered below average to inefficient.

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How We Can Help

At Automotive Imports, we’re passionate about German cars. Located in Denver, CO, we’re easy to access from locations such as Boulder, Lakewood, Centennial, Westminster, and Littleton. We know our vehicles inside-out and will be more than happy to inform you of the fuel efficiency of your desired quality German car as well as provide our knowledge and insight to keep your purchase in supreme running order.

We understand what it means to pick the perfect vehicle, and our experienced team will help you pick the car that’s right for your needs, your wallet, and most importantly, your lifestyle.