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Old 06-01-2015, 09:02 AM   #1
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Question Mileage differential... Concerning?

Has anybody else seen a huge variation in MPG between tanks?

I have been driving the same route, using the same brand/octane gas (usually Shell, but occasionally QT), and seen fairly consistent traffic situations... But my gas mileage has been all over the map as of late...

Last tank saw an average combined of 30.2 mpg and netted me 350 miles for the tank.

Tank before that saw an average combined of 36.5 and netted me 423 miles for the tank.

Tank before that saw an average combined of 32.4 and netted me 376 miles for the tank.

Tank before that saw an average combined of 37.2 and netted me 432 miles for the tank.

(I tend to fill her up when the screen tells me 15-20 miles to empty btw...)

How is it that my average can range as much as 7 MPG and net a difference of 82 miles a tank?

I know weather, driving style, traffic, roads, etc. can affect mileage... But I am driving the same route, averaging the same speeds, seeing similar traffic conditions, etc. The only thing that has been all over the map is weather... although rain has been the norm more than anything else these last few weeks.

Can air temp, humidity, etc. really cause that much of a difference? Could my computer be that inconsistent with calculations? Is there something I am missing? I can't say I am disappointed with numbers consistently beating the window sticker, but I think I am right to be discouraged by such inconsistent numbers... That's a pretty big difference in mileage with very little difference in route. Am I right?


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Old 06-01-2015, 10:13 AM   #2
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The MPG display on the instrument panel doesn't fluctuate much on my car, but I see pretty wide variations (though, not as wide as yours) when I calculate my MPG by dividing miles driven by how many gallons it takes to fill the tank.

I've come to think that the cause is an inconsistency in how full the fuel tank is when the pump handle clicks off.

I'm strictly a first-click man, so I never seek to top off my tank. Perhaps due to the capless filler, I'm pretty certain that on some days, the tank gets filled a lot fuller than others. I've even noticed patterns from gas station to gas station. There's a Shell station near my house whose pumps consistently fill my tank fuller than other local stations. At most stations, when my gas gauge is nearly on E, the car will take at most 10.5 gallons. At that Shell station, I routinely can put in 11.5 or more. Also, when I fill at that station, I can drive a lot farther before the gas gauge moves past the F mark.

Without some other way to measure the gas level vs. available capacity in the tank, it's hard to know for sure. But after 2.5 years with this car, I'm pretty sure the amount of gas the tank will accept varies a lot.
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Old 06-01-2015, 11:01 AM   #3
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^^^ c5karl is onto it for this one I think from the evidence.

Note the pattern of low/high/low/high, that usually indicates a difference in fill level when checking MPG on paper, and the computer can respond in the same way (exact level of "filled" can't be determined).
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Old 06-01-2015, 11:30 AM   #4
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These cars are extremely sensitive to weather changes. Since your mileage has been all over the place along with the weather, I'd say this is a case of correlation equaling causation.
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Old 06-01-2015, 12:00 PM   #5
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Another vote for weather and CPU errors. Try hand calculating your mpg for a few tanks and make notes of weather. I was surprised how much rain affects my mpg
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Old 06-01-2015, 12:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BetaDnB View Post
These cars are extremely sensitive to weather changes. Since your mileage has been all over the place along with the weather, I'd say this is a case of correlation equaling causation.
VERY true. My 2012 SE was extremely sensitive to weather fluctuations, especially temperature changes. The added rolling resistance of driving on those wet roads he mentioned will have a negative effect on his MPG's
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Old 06-01-2015, 12:13 PM   #7
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Thanks guys. Glad to have feedback. I will calculate manually and remember to account for weather before worrying from here on out.
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Old 06-01-2015, 12:13 PM   #8
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We went from 70F Friday night where I was at about 38mpg up until yesterday when it dropped to 40F (all day!) and rainy and I'm down to 35mpg now. Same roads and everything.
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Old 06-01-2015, 12:21 PM   #9
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These last few weeks temps have ranged from low 60's to high 80's and rain has been from drizzle to deluge. Humidity is all over the place too.
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Old 06-01-2015, 07:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c5karl View Post
... an inconsistency in how full the fuel tank is when the pump handle clicks off.

... I'm strictly a first-click man, so I never seek to top off my tank. Perhaps due to the capless filler, I'm pretty certain that on some days, the tank gets filled a lot fuller than others. I've even noticed patterns from gas station to gas station. ...
I also stop at the first click, usually at the same station every time. I haven't analyzed MPGs yet to look for any patterns, but I've wondered if it is easier to get a more consistent level of filling when it clicks off by backing off on the flow rate for the last few gallons. (Normally I squeeze the lever all the way for most of the fill up.)

Does anybody know whether the flow rate at the time of the first click affects how much fuel goes into the tank before the pump shuts off?
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