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Fuel Economy Myths Debunked: Which Did you Believe?

Fuel Economy Myths

The best-ever recorded fuel economy was on the PAC-Car II. In 2005, the hydrogen-powered car achieved 12,665 mpge at the Shell Eco-marathon in France! Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are not readily available, but will soon be available in select markets. For now, many of us must still rely on gasoline or hybrid vehicles to get around. There are ways to improve fuel economy, but there are several fuel economy myths. Here’s a look at fuel economy myths:

Fuel Economy Myths

  • Manual transmissions get better fuel economy than vehicles with automatic transmissions According to the EPA, advancements in automatic transmission technology means that in some cases automatic transmissions get better fuel economy than manual transmissions. Honda utilizes the Honda Earth Dreams Technology continuously variable transmission. This type of transmission is known for offering smooth acceleration and improved fuel efficiency. This transmission works without changing gears. Instead, the “drive gear ratio is continuously changed to maintain the right weight for the driving condition,” according to Honda. “The engine continually maintains a low-load rpm during acceleration.” To put this transmission’s efficiency into perspective, the 2015 Honda Fit with the manual transmission has an EPA estimated mileage rating* of 29 city, 37 highway, and 32 combined. The same vehicle with a CVT achieves 33 city, 41 highway, and 36 combined mpg!*
  • Fuel Economy Myths

  • Only small cars get good fuel economy The second most fuel efficient car on the EPA’s 2015 list is the Honda Accord Hybrid, which is a mid-size sedan. The fourth vehicle on the list is another mid-size sedan, the Ford Fusion Hybrid. In comparing gasoline-powered vehicles, a mid-size sedan to a minicar, the mid-size sedan essentially has the same fuel economy. The 2015 Honda Accord with a CVT has an estimated fuel economy of 27 city, 36 highway, and 31 combined mpg*, while the Fiat 500 with a 6-speed automatic transmission achieves 27 city, 34 highway, and 30 combined mpg*.
  • Premium fuel improves fuel economy Using premium fuel will not improve the fuel economy of a vehicle that requires unleaded, according to the EPA. Consult your vehicle’s owner manual for which grade of gasoline is recommended for your vehicle.
  • Starting a car is more fuel consuming than letting the car sit idle According to the EPA, fuel-injected engines start efficiently, especially if the engine is already warmed up. Letting a car simply run without going anywhere can consume a “quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour,” depending on the vehicle’s engine size. The EPA estimates this is costing you “1 to 2 cents per minute.” The EPA suggests turning off your engine if you plan on waiting for a long time in your vehicle without needing to move it frequently. There new vehicles that utilize new technologies to shut off an engine at stoplights to reduce fuel consumption. The 2015 Kia Soul has an optional, idle stop and go system. This system automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle is stopped. The engine starts up again when the driver’s foot is taken off of the brake pedal, according to Kia. Honda’s 2015 CR-Z also has idle-stop technology.
  • Driving with the windows down reduces fuel economy A test conducted by Consumer Reports found that driving with the windows open at highway speeds did not affect fuel economy. The test was conducted with a Honda Accord traveling at 65 mph. The test showed that with the windows open at this speed there was no measurable difference in fuel economy, however with the windows rolled up and the air conditioning on there was. With the air conditioning running fuel economy was reduced by more than 3 mpg.

Remember, fuel economy will always vary due to :

  • How and where you drive
  • Vehicle condition and maintenance
  • Fuel variations
  • Engine break-in

Call Fisher Auto in Boulder, Colo. at 303-245-6414 with your questions on fuel economy myths and to learn more about how you can improve your vehicle’s fuel economy.


*Based on EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.


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