How to Find a Car’s Fuel Economy Information

How to Find a Car’s Fuel Economy Information


Online data reveals much

These days, fuel economy is an important consideration when buying a new or used car given that higher gas prices are here to stay. In coming years, with fuel expected to sell at even higher rates, knowing the fuel economy of a vehicle is as important as the condition that it is in.

For new cars, gas mileage figures are easy to find, information found in ads, manufacturer literature and displayed on the sticker fixed to the driver’s side window. For older cars those details are not readily known, but with a little research you can find estimated fuel mileage dating back five, fifteen even twenty-five years or more.

Since cars were first mass produced, fuel mileage has been measured. The Ford Model T, introduced in 1908, was estimated to get 25 miles to the gallon (1). That number isn’t far off of what most cars get today.


The Environmental Protection Agency records fuel economy numbers for vehicles sold in the United States with a gross vehicle weight rate of 8,500 pounds or less. That means most passenger vehicles with the exception of certain heavy duty trucks, full-size  vans and large sport-utility vehicles are tested.

The largest vehicles usually include diesel engines. Figure that gas mileage is 30 to 35 percent better than a comparably sized gas engine. (2)


Data for applicable passenger vehicles can be found online at  On the navigation bar choose “Find and Compare Cars” and then click on model year for the vehicle you are interested in reviewing.  Select the brand and then the model name to find the results. Several sub-models will be shown; choose the model matching your vehicle.

For older vehicles, fuel economy information is archived. You can still pull up information dating back to the late-1970s when the EPA began recording this data by entering 1978 or a later year to find that information. Expect to sift through pages of old data to get a fairly good estimate of your vehicle’s fuel economy.

Worth Noting

In recent years, the EPA has revised past fuel economy figures downward to align with more realistic estimates of passenger vehicle mileage. Those numbers are even lower than the original figures posted.


(1) MacKenzie, Angus. “The 25 MPG Model T: Why haven’t we done better? Read more:” Motor Trend. N.p., 04/04/2008. Web. 13 Aug 2010. <>.

(2) “Diesel Vehicles.” Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 13 Aug 2010. <>.


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Categories: Autos Express

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".