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THE 5 GAS-MILEAGE MYTHS SLIPPING PAST TORONTO USED-CAR BUYERS

It’s generally one of the very first questions that nearly every shopper on nearly every Greater Toronto Area used-car lot first asks: “What kind of mileage does it get?”

Fuel economy has to line up appropriately with the driver’s typical daily driving demands in order to ever get the greatest value out of its lifespan. Given that fuel economy can deteriorate as some vehicles age and steady use starts to take a toll upon its tires, wheels, suspension and engine, it’s a particularly critical question when purchasing a used car or truck.

For what it’s worth, that importance probably doubles again when considering a vehicle with more kilometers behind it than ahead of it.

Still, don’t believe every scrap of hype concerning what does and doesn’t hurt or help fuel economy. Many buyers would be amazed at the well-traveled myths that are either only partial truths or out-and-out falsehoods.

 

1.    SMALLER CAR, BETTER FUEL ECONOMY

This remains somewhat true – it’s just that the smallest vehicles on the road are no longer the only ones built to sip fuel rather than guzzle.

The logic behind it still makes sense: smaller vehicles generally pack less horsepower beneath the hood but make up for it with less mass to push around, meaning it takes less fuel per kilometer to keep it moving. In recent years, automotive innovation has helped midsize-and-larger vehicles shorten the gap.

To clarify, midsize cars and large wagons account for half the 2014 model year vehicles weighing in with the best fuel economy, excluding electric and plug-in hybrids with an obvious advantage. Chalk the leveled playing field up to more and more large vehicles packing diesel engines, direct fuel injection, slicker aerodynamics and hybrid drivetrains, to name just a few strokes of engineering genius.

The days of compromising between great gas mileage and ample interior space or a big body are rapidly coming to an end.

2.    AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION ALWAYS OFFER INFERIOR GAS MILEAGE

While mostly true once upon a time, automatic-transmission vehicles have begun catching up with manual transmissions much the way larger-vehicle mileage ratings have begun gaining ground on those of compacts.

If you’re well-schooled in how to drive a manual, that 1 to 2 miles per gallon that a manual can save trims hundreds of dollars annually off fuel expenses. The total control over the vehicle is certainly worth it. That doesn’t mean that all hope is lost for those who never get the hang of a stick and must stick with an auto. The Honda CR-Z is just one vehicle whose automatic model manages to get better mileage than its 6-speed counterpart.

3.    STARTING A CAR USES MORE FUEL THAN IDLING

Times have changed. Vehicle engineering has vastly improved fuel injection efficiency to the point that frequently starting and stopping a car is no longer such a consequence as it was in older models – especially with the advent of instantaneous start-stop systems that cut the engine after coming to a full stop at a light.

On the contrary, idling can cost roughly a few cents per minute while using up the equivalent to a quarter to half-gallon of fuel per hour. If standing still at railroad tracks or in a long traffic jam, you could very well be better off just shutting the car off and putting it in Park.

4.    DON’T DRIVE A VEHICLE WITHOUT WARMING IT UP FIRST

To be perfectly honest, nothing warms an engine up quite like driving. Think of this as an addendum to the above factoid concerning the cost of idling.

Today’s vehicles “warm up” incredibly quickly. Many are fine to drive seconds after the engine starts. That being said, don’t push your luck. Extreme cold will still stiffen up metal and thicken lubricants to some degree. Subjecting any vehicle to extreme performance before it reaches a normal operating temperature will still tax it more than would be advisable.

5.    OLD VEHICLES LOSE FUEL EFFICIENCY

To be honest, it’s a matter of the way the importance of maintenance increases as vehicles age.

Actually, many used vehicles experience improved fuel efficiency from about the 5,000-mile mark onward, owing to the engine having broken in and found its groove. If cared after diligently, a 10 or 15-year-old car won’t lose much zip on its fastball.

Many of the very components that demand increasingly vigilant maintenance as a ages – tires, engine, shocks, transmission, etc. – are the most critical ones to maintaining brisk, efficient fuel efficiency. To be honest, when those parts begin failing because owners haven’t kept to a strict and timely maintenance schedule, fuel economy becomes arguably the least of the things over which any shopper who might buy the vehicle should raise red flags.

At Quixl Auto of Toronto, we acquaint ourselves with the maintenance histories and mileage expectations of every vehicle for sale on our lot. That’s because there’s only one car we care about selling you: the one your needs brought you to us to buy.

 

 

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