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Debunking myths on fuel economy

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Debunking myths on fuel economy



Some of what you know may be wrong, and it could cost you money every time you get behind the wheel.

To set the record straight in time for summer driving season, the Environmental Protection Agency presents "the top 10 misconceptions about fuel economy."

Here are some of the myths:

Using premium gasoline will improve your fuel economy

If you had a dime for every dollar people have squandered pumping premium into cars that don't need it, you'd never worry about gasoline prices again.

Using a higher fuel grade than the automaker recommends will almost certainly have no effect on your fuel economy. However, pumping a lower grade than recommended can damage your engine and will probably increase fuel consumption and cost you money.

Smaller vehicles always get better fuel economy

Hybrids, diesels, new technologies and smart engineering can create vehicles that combine fuel efficiency with room and comfort.

Chevrolet will market its 2011 Cruze as a compact, but its interior room qualifies as a midsize by EPA standards. Despite that, the car's 40-m.p.g. highway rating will exceed every gasoline-powered compact -- and nearly every subcompact -- on the road.

The Ford Fusion hybrid midsize sedan has higher city, highway and combined EPA mileage ratings than a compact Toyota Corolla.

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata midsize sedan has higher city, highway and combined EPA ratings than the little Scion xB or tC.

A manual transmission will give you better fuel economy than an automatic

Modern automatic transmissions often provide better fuel economy than a manual, thanks largely to extra gears and electronic controls.

The 2011 Ford Mustang V6's EPA rating of 19 m.p.g. in the city and 31 m.p.g. on the highway is 1 m.p.g. better on the highway than a Mustang with the same engine and a manual transmission. The same thing is true for cars ranging from the compact Honda Civic to the $85,550 BMW 650ci luxury convertible.

Vehicles need to warm up before you drive them

Electronic engine controls mean a modern vehicle is running at or near maximum efficiency as soon as you start it. Letting the car warm up for a few minutes simply wastes fuel.

Aftermarket additives will dramatically improve your fuel economy

Forget it. They're more likely to damage your engine or increase your tailpipe emissions. For more information on this, go the Federal Trade Commission's Web site and look up Gas-Saving Products: Fact or Fuelishness?

It takes more fuel to restart the engine than let it idle

This was true when inefficient carburetors metered fuel use, but modern fuel injection means that you save energy by turning the engine off. This does NOT mean you should shut the engine off at every stoplight or when you're waiting in line. That can wear out your starter and slow all the other drivers, irritating them and leading to wasted fuel in all the vehicles.

However, stop-start systems that efficiently shut the engine off are a key part of how hybrids save fuel. Nearly every new vehicle will have a fast and efficient automatic stop-start feature in a few years.

The window-sticker mileage figures are a guarantee of the mileage you'll get

Not even close. How you drive has a massive impact on your mileage. However, the window-sticker figures are the only way to realistically compare fuel economy and operating costs when you shop for a new vehicle.

The numbers are generated in lab tests, so every vehicle is held to the same standard. "Your mileage will vary" as the fine print says, but you can trust that a higher EPA rating will save you money.



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