Unexpectedly Intriguing!
14 June 2024
Fuel Meter, Meter, Indication vector graphic on Pixabay - https://pixabay.com/vectors/fuel-meter-meter-indication-end-311685/

Imagine you're shopping for a new vehicle, or maybe more accurately, a newer vehicle than the one you have today. With gasoline prices running high, one of the things you're shopping for in that newer vehicle is better fuel economy.

Let's say the car you have today is a real gas guzzler. It only gets 10 miles per gallon. Shopping around, you find a newer car in your price range that gets 15 miles per gallon. That may not be great, but it is certainly more fuel efficient than your current vehicle.

Now, suppose one of your neighbors is also out shopping for a newer vehicle to replace theirs. The vehicle they have gets 25 miles per gallon and they've determined they can afford to buy a vehicle that gets double that mileage.

If you and your neighbor drive the same distance every year, which one of you will save more gas after switching to drive your respective more fuel-efficient vehicles?

You can find out with the following tool, where you only need to enter the fuel efficiency numbers for your vehicles of interest and annual miles driven. If you're reading this article on a site that republishes our RSS news feed, click here to access a working version of this tool.

Vehicle Fuel Mileage Information
Input Data Values
Miles per Gallon for Older, Less Fuel-Efficient Vehicle
Miles per Gallon for Newer, More Fuel-Efficient Vehicle
Miles Driven per Year

Change in Fuel Consumed Over One Year
Calculated Results Values
Gallons of Fuel Saved Over One Year

We've set the default data in the tool up to run the numbers for your hypothetical neighbor's newer vehicle. It finds they will reduce the amount of fuel they use in driving 15,000 miles per year by 300 gallons.

We'll let you update the numbers in the tool yourself to run the scenario for how much you might save for your own newer, more fuel-efficient vehicle, but if you run the suggested scenario of exchanging a 10 miles per gallon vehicle for one that gets 15 miles per gallon, you'll find you'll save 500 gallons. That's 200 more gallons per year than what your neighbor who bought a vehicle with double the fuel efficiency would save.

What if you bought the vehicle that can go 50 miles per gallon? Well, you could completely smoke your neighbor by saving 1200 gallons per year. But the question you need to answer is whether you can afford to buy that vehicle. Assuming that less fuel-efficient vehicles are more affordable than more fuel-efficient models, it's quite possible you could spend a lot less and still save more gas per year than your neighbor.

The examples for this tool came from this Vox article, which advocates for a better way for the automotive industry to communicate how fuel efficient the vehicles they sell are, but which ignores the personal finance issues of affordability and flunks the economics. The article is inspired by a 2008 paper that argues the Mile Per Gallon ratings for vehicles provide a misleading picture of their relative fuel efficiency. We figured it was easier to understand that argument by providing a tool to do the fuel savings math.

Image credit: Fuel Meter, Meter, Indication vector graphic by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay.

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Welcome to the blogosphere's toolchest! Here, unlike other blogs dedicated to analyzing current events, we create easy-to-use, simple tools to do the math related to them so you can get in on the action too! If you would like to learn more about these tools, or if you would like to contribute ideas to develop for this blog, please e-mail us at:

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