How to Track Gas Mileage

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Track gas mileage the old-fashioned way or with the help of tech. (Photo: @Suze via Twenty20)
Fuel economy plays a large role when people are deciding which vehicle to get. By and large, they want the best car with the longest range per gallon. But are you really getting the estimated miles per gallon (MPG) you were promised when purchasing your new car?
Although all cars have a range in which they’re expected to perform, there are many factors that will ultimately determine your MPG, and these are specific to your individual circumstances. They include:
  • Your driving habits
  • Whether the car is driven more on highways or city streets
  • Tire pressure
  • Fuel quality
  • Street quality
  • Engine or mechanical problems
Some of these are things you can and should fix if you notice them. That’s why tracking your gas mileage is so important. It will make sure you get the best life out of your vehicle and ultimately save you money.
Many modern cars have approximate MPG as a feature on the dashboard. These are not 100% dependable on all vehicles. Here are some other ways to more accurately track your gas mileage.

Use Good Old-Fashioned Math

If you prefer not to use apps or other technology, you can actually calculate your gas milage pretty effectively by simply filling up your tank and using your odometer. Here’s how:
Step 1: Fill your gas tank completely.
Step 2: Start your odometer. Either reset your trip odometer or write down your total mileage on the master odometer.
Step 3: Drive until you have half a tank. Drive normally until at least half your tank is depleted.
Step 4: Fill the tank. Refill the gas tank and record how many gallons you put in.
Step 5: Record your mileage. Take note of the elapsed trip miles or new odometer mileage.
Step 6: Divide miles by gallons. Divide miles traveled by how many gallons you purchased at your second trip to the gas station (e.g., 287 miles/15.5 gallons = 18.52 MPG).

Use an App to Calculate MPG

Of course there’s an app for that! With apps for pretty much everything under the sun, this is not a surprise. A few of the more popular apps include Fuelio, Simply Auto, and Drivvo.
Although each app is slightly different, the basic method for tracking your gas mileage is:
  • Downloading the app to your smartphone
  • Logging gas fill-ups
  • Logging mileage
The apps will not only show you your current gas mileage and graph your gas mileage over a certain period of time, but most of them will offer fuel economy advice and tips. You can also track necessary maintenance for your car on these apps.

Get Even More Control with a Website Tracker

There are specific online communities you can join, such as Fuelly, where you can get individualized support for your car. All you have to do is sign up, add your basic information, and log your mileage and gas fill-ups.
The site will track your progress over time and give you advice to improve your mileage. If you have any concerns, you can jump on a forum to talk to other drivers and support professionals.
Whatever method you choose, it is important to track your mileage on your vehicle as it changes over time, with various influences affecting your car at certain times. The only way to make sure you’re getting the best gas mileage is to actually track it and look for ways to improve.
Your gas mileage doesn’t just affect your fuel efficiency, it also affects your insurance prices and coverage. Having a better idea of what your driving habits are can help you decide what kind of coverage you need.