How far can you get on a tank of fuel? This question is essential for budgeting long-distance travel, planning extensive trips, and understanding the ecological impact of your vehicles. Learning how fuel economy is calculated, how to track it, and how to maintain (or even increase) your fuel efficiency can have major benefits for your vehicles, bottom line, and the environment.

Calculating Fuel Economy

Fuel economy can be calculated with a fairly simple formula. Simply divide the distance traveled by the volume of fuel used to travel that distance. For example: if your vehicle traveled 300 miles on 10 gallons of gas, divide 300 miles by 10 gallons. The fuel economy for this scenario would be 30 miles per gallon (mpg). Most vehicles have reported their fuel economy and you can easily look up your fuel economy online.

Tracking Fuel Economy

Tracking your long-term fuel economy, especially if you manage a fleet of vehicles, is generally a good idea. Logbooks are readily available, many of which also allow you to track other kinds of maintenance on the go. Tracking fill-ups, mileage, and other minor considerations will allow you to project your costs in the future.

Improving Fuel Economy

Fuel efficiency is largely influenced by your vehicle and engine set up. However, you can achieve minor improvements in fuel efficiency by modifying your driving habits. One of the easiest ways to consistently raise your miles to gallon ratio is to find your vehicle’s optimal speed, generally at or around 55–60 miles per hour for most standard automobiles. This cruising speed can build up to significant savings in the long term. You can also minimize your use of peripherals (A/C, radio, seat warmers, etc.) as the energy needed to power these devices reduces the energy available to keep your car moving.

Fuel efficiency awareness is not just an environmental concern. If you can reduce your fuel consumption by bettering your fuel economy, you can save significant amounts of money on fuel for years to come.