What It All Means
Now you know that your car isn't getting the 26 mpg listed on the window sticker. The next step is to find ways to improve your mileage. Performing simple maintenance should be your first course of action. Once you get your car serviced, check the mileage again and with any luck, you will see a difference. In some cases the improvement could be dramatic. Also bear in mind that in cars with large engines, small improvements are actually more significant than they appear. For example, an improvement from 12 mpg to 15 mpg is actually a 20 percent improvement.
Your next improvement strategy would be to modify your driving habits. This, too, can produce significant fuel-efficient gains. At Edmunds.com, we see very different gas mileage readings among test drivers who have different driving styles, and in a tightly controlled test editors saw that calm driving produced significantly better fuel economy than did aggressive driving.
Finally, by becoming more aware of the amount of gas you are using, you can make a better choice the next time you go car shopping. Edmunds compiles lists of fuel-efficient cars and trucks. If these don't suit your needs, check the specs for any vehicle on our site and you'll see the EPA estimated fuel economy. The EPA also has lists of top performers.
Tracking your fuel economy gives you insight into your car's performance and your own performance as a mileage-conscious driver. It also gives you a baseline, and an incentive to improve. So get online or get that notebook and get started today.