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AAA Motor Club: How accurate is the miles-to-empty gauge on your vehicle?

N Charlotte Toyota gas mileage
N Charlotte Toyota gas mileage
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 12:32 PM CDT
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AURORA, Ill. Iowa (KWQC) - Think you will have enough gas once your fuel light goes on in your vehicle? AAA tested the accuracy of in-vehicle fuel systems that provide a miles-to-empty estimate. Overall, it says the systems tested were relatively accurate, but a closer examination showed the way you drive and other variables could result in a significant difference.

“Unfortunately, these systems aren’t perfect, so if drivers become so dependent on them that they run their vehicles to the last drop, they may sputter out sooner than expected,” said Molly Hart, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group.

According to a AAA consumer survey, 74-percent of drivers use their miles-to-empty display in determining when to fill up with gas. Another 62-percent believe the fuel economy estimates provided by in-vehicle systems are accurate.

AAA tested vehicles though a series of simulated driving scenarios ranging from highway to heavy city traffic. On average, the fuel economy display of the vehicles tested showed an error of 2.3-percent. But vehicle error varied greatly, ranging from 6.4-percent to 2.8-percent. These specific results suggest that each vehicle reacted to changes in driving differently, and that the accuracy can be impacted by driving style and conditions. AAA says while each manufacturer likely uses a unique algorithm to estimate vehicle range, it can be assumed that some historical driving data is also used to determine the vehicle’s fuel efficiency for future driving. Therefore, the range estimation, at any given point, is affected by the vehicle’s most recent driving conditions.

“To avoid running out of gas, AAA recommends drivers watch their gas gauge and fill up when it reaches a quarter of a tank,” Hart continued. “This will ensure drivers have enough fuel in case of unexpected delays but also helps to prevent fuel pump damage that can occur when a vehicle’s gas tank is regularly run down to empty.”

In 2019, AAA responded to 628,000 out-of-fuel calls.

Read the full report here

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