If you think your mileage may vary with a brand new vehicle, take a look at the differences in fuel economy results for older cars. Sites like the EPA's Fuel Economy tracker and Fuelly prove that there is not such thing as a standard MPG number, despite the EPA's best efforts. This all isn't stopping the EPA from releasing a new window sticker designed for used cars, which the agency announced today. It could be an important tool, since over 40 million used cars were sold in the US last year.

Over 40 million used cars were sold in the US last year.

To use the tool, simply go to the EPA's Fuel Economy minisite, put in your vehicle data and then print out the resulting image (or download it for use online). The numbers are the same as what is in the regular database but do not include the "Your MPG" user average. Basically, this is just a way to make the information in the EPA's database easy to print out and display in your car's window when it sits along the side of the road or on the dealer lots. As easy as it is, there is no requirement for dealers to display the information, but the Consumer Federation of America said in a statement that it may try to mandate this. The EPA database goes back to 1984 model year vehicles and if you're buying anything older than that, we have to assume fuel economy is not at the top of your list of important features.

The EPA came up with a used car MPG sticker in 2011, but the updated tool unveiled today has a different disclaimer, one that doesn't say that the average car loses two percent of its fuel economy level every year, even when properly maintained. The press release announcing the new sticker does say, "As a vehicle's fuel economy changes very little over a typical 15-year life with proper maintenance, the original EPA fuel economy estimate remains the best indicator of a used vehicle's average gas mileage." In other words, your mileage will pretty much certainly vary.
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Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Department Release Fuel Economy Tool for Used Vehicles

WASHINGTON – As part of the Obama Administration's ongoing efforts to increase fuel efficiency, reduce carbon pollution and address climate change, the U.S. Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released a new label that features EPA fuel economy estimates and CO2 estimates for used vehicles sold in the United States since 1984.

Consumers may create the new label electronically as part of a new tool on FuelEconomy.gov. This electronic graphic can be downloaded and included in online advertisements on the web, while the paper label may be printed and affixed to the vehicle window. As a vehicle's fuel economy changes very little over a typical 15-year life with proper maintenance, the original EPA fuel economy estimate remains the best indicator of a used vehicle's average gas mileage

"Making fuel economy information more easily accessible can help Americans save money at the gas pump and reduce carbon pollution," said EPA Acting Administrator for Air and Radiation Janet McCabe. "Buying any vehicle is an investment, and the information on these labels will help consumers make informed decisions and calculate the cost of ownership."

"Fuel efficient vehicles cut carbon pollution, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and help American families and businesses save money," said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson. "The new fuel economy label gives consumers an easy, quick way to get the information they need to find the used vehicle that's right for them."

The Obama Administration has taken unprecedented steps to improve the fuel efficiency of vehicles sold in the U.S., establishing the toughest fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles in U.S. history. These standards are expected to save consumers $1.7 trillion at the pump -- or more than $8,000 in costs over the lifetime of each vehicle – and eliminate six billion metric tons of carbon pollution.

All new vehicles now include a comprehensive fuel economy and environmental window sticker from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, including passenger vehicles that meet the new fuel economy standards. With the FuelEconomy.gov tool released today, used vehicle sellers can provide potential buyers with comparable fuel economy information. Last year, over 40 million used cars were sold in the United States – roughly three times the number of new cars sold in 2012.

Used vehicles' information will also be available on FuelEconomy.gov in addition to annual fuel cost and petroleum use estimates. Individual fuel economy will vary for many reasons. Visit FuelEconomy.gov for personalization tools. Consumers can also view gas mileage estimates from other drivers with the same vehicle year model and configuration.

More information on the used vehicle tool is available at www.Fueleconomy.gov


Will dealers adopt this easy-to-implement consumer information program?

Washington, D.C. - Today car dealers across the nation are being given the opportunity to offer 40 million used car buyers critical, easy to understand fuel efficiency information about the cars for sale on their lots. Starting today dealers will be provided with a totally free online tool from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allowing them to easily create consumer-friendly labels that list the gas mileage and the CO2 emissions levels of used vehicles sold in the United States since 1984 (read the full announcement here).

"Providing gas mileage information to consumers will be a giant step forward in protecting American pocketbooks, addressing the nation's dependence on oil, and reducing pollution," said Jack Gillis, Consumer Federation of America's Director of Public Affairs and author of The Car Book.

Currently, seventy-five percent of car buyers in the market choose to purchase used vehicles. Because it is hard to find, very few have any idea of the fuel economy of the vehicles they are considering.

"Consumers who are in the dark about a vehicle's fuel economy are buying blind. They don't know how much they'll have to spend on gas until they've already made a significant purchase and a potentially costly mistake," said Gillis.

The new labeling tool is currently being offered to dealers as an optional resource, but that could change if dealers fail to adopt this easy-to-use consumer information program.

"Used car dealers are being given the chance to jump on one of the most important rating programs available. If they fail to provide their customers with this easy-to-access information, the Consumer Federation of America will push hard to mandate the labels on every used car," said Gillis.

A powerful tool for car buyers, the new labels will also motivate carmakers to move quickly to meet recent federal standards to increase the average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the U.S. to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg by the year 2025. Why? Dealers know that consumers these days are scrambling to buy higher mileage cars and they want the used models of their vehicles to maintain their value.

"Vehicle fuel efficiency is an increasingly critical factor for car buyers and, if the dealers take simple steps to inform buyers, American families will reward them with their dollars for the most fuel efficient used cars," said Gillis.

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