I’m not quite sure how, but I unexpectedly found a website from the US Department of Energy that has a feature that tells you the expected mpg (miles per gallon) rating of your car. This includes new and used vehicles. The figures for the used vehicles have been updated to show what mileage the vehicle should currently be getting, as well as what the vehicle was rated for when new.
For example, a 2002 Ford Taurus was originally estimated to get a combined highway/city mpg rating of 23. Currently the site estimates the Jan 2012 mileage would be expected to be 20 mpg. Additionally, the site allows input from readers. The actual input from a 2002 Ford Taurus owner is 18.6 mpg.
Cool. This is a good tool for determining if your engine needs a tune-up or perhaps your driving habits need some adjusting. If your actual gas mileage falls short of the estimates, you might even want to check your tires. Improperly inflated or over-worn tires can reduce gas mileage, too.
If you are thinking of buying another car, then the site allows you to compare up to four vehicles side by side. You can use this feature to decide which vehicle will have the lowest expected yearly operating costs.
Another good way to use this information is in polishing your monthly expense budget. If you are not sure how much to put on your budget for monthly gasoline expenses, then the site has an estimated gasoline cost per driving mile to help you get started with a figure.
If your driving habits might be the culprit, then visit The Fat Dollar’s article Save Money on Gas where I share the no-cost changes I made to increase my gas mileage by 26%.