Your Mileage May Vary

Before filling the Mazda with gas, I figured I should have a range of about 360 miles on a tank of gas. That’s 30 mpg times 12 gallons of gas. But as the fuel gauge sunk down, it looked like I wasn’t going to hit 360. In fact I hit about 300 miles before the low fuel light came on. It took about 12 gallons to fill it which meant that I had only gotten 25 miles per gallon. I thought maybe the first tank wouldn’t get good mileage or maybe the dealer hadn’t really topped off the tank. But realistically I should have gotten much better mileage since a lot of the miles were on the highway between the dealer and on a trip to Athens for Michael’s birthday.

So I was antsy as I watched the progress of the second tank. When the tank was half empty I had gone less than 150 miles. Some fuel gauges are off. As I got to a quarter tank and with gas prices expected to spike soon, I went ahead and filled up. With 197 miles on the trip odometer, I was hoping for about 7 gallons of gas to fill the tank. But soon it reached 8 gallons (down to 25 mpg) and then didn’t stop until 8.8. I entered the numbers into my calculator right away and was disgusted: 22 miles per gallon.

Obviously from my posts on car shopping, mileage was very important to me. Based on user comments on internet forums, I was expecting 28 mpg and hoping to get 30 (the number Consumer Reports gave as the overall expected mileage), well above the EPA city estimate of 24. 22 is simply not acceptable (20% less than the 28 I expected), but I’m pretty much stuck with the car.

I think I will take it in for service and see if the dealership can find something wrong with it. Maybe one of the tires isn’t spinning or the brakes are stuck or they left the oil out.

2 thoughts on “Your Mileage May Vary

  1. I was extremely careful on the last tank, not accelerating quickly, driving in 5th gear when I was over 40 mph, and even turning the engine off at traffic signals I know take more than 30 seconds to turn green. I got just under 26 mpg this time with almost all city miles. Disappointing but not appalling.

    The salesman at the dealer seemed a little concerned but said I should get a couple of mpg more once the car is “broken in” at 5,000 miles and I’m still less than 1,000.

  2. I’ve filled up a few more times and I am seeing better mileage. The biggest change, I think, is that I put the air conditioning on recirculate. It seems like I remember reading in one of my car owner’s manuals that it was harder on the engine to recirculate, but I’m getting 27-28 mpg now, which is about what I expected.

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