Your car's gauge may be lying to you.

45 MPG?

May 16, 2011|By Eileen Ambrose

When the stock market went gangbusters during the late 1990s,  people boasted about how much their 401(k)s went up. During the housing boom, bragging rights belonged to those whose home values rose the most.

Now that gas prices are soaring, those who get the most miles per gallon are likely to wow the crowd.

But Edmunds.com, the online provider of car information, says that gauges in cars overstate fuel efficiency. Edmunds conducted 14 tests on seven vehicles and found that on average the MPG gauges were off by 5.5 percent. The Ford Escape Hybrid, for instance, overstated the fuel efficiency by 19 percent, according to Edmunds.

So if you’re counting on gauges for budgeting, you could end up not setting aside enough.

Edmunds figures that drivers would budget $12,000 for fuel costs over five years based on a gauge reading that they get 25 miles per gallon. (This also assumes gas remains at $4 per gallon.)

But if that reading is off 5.5 percent, the drivers’ budget would be short $660.

If you’re looking for a more accurate gauge, Edmunds recommends several iPhone apps. Or, you can just write down your miles and the amount of gas you pump into the vehicle.

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