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Discussion Starter #1
I am rather curious about the which factors are used by the gauge to provide the average MPG reading.

Al, A.S.E. Master Auto Tech/L1
 

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According to the manual, it's "calculated by the total driving distance and fuel consumption since the last average fuel economy reset."

What other way would there be to calculate it?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Perhaps I didn't make myself clear; I would like to know which sensors contribute an input to the gauge's reading.
 

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That is a good question. Given that you can get that data from the OBD hookup I suspect it is an internal algorithm generated by the ECM based on fuel tank level, average MPH, air/fuel ratios, etc. I doubt it could be narrowed down to a sensor/sensors.
 

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Hi k3 and welcome to the Forum. Do you own a Kia Soul?

Your question is a good one & much talked about on the forum. From my research, I've concluded car makers don't necessarily make that answer crystal clear. At best, the MPG readout should be used as a "drivers guide" to gas consumption.

Edmunds has a good article on some testing they did. I think automakers go from sensor readings down to a basic algorythyms when coming up with a figure:

Gauges Come Standard — and Skew High
Fuel economy gauges, which show both average and current fuel economy, are standard equipment in 92 percent of 2011 vehicles, according to Edmunds data. By resetting the gauge when refueling, a driver sees what kind of fuel economy the vehicle delivers. Drivers can change their driving style and see if this improves fuel economy.

The individual inaccuracies in Edmunds testing were as high as 19 percent for the 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid and 16 percent for the diesel-powered 2010 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI. This means that the Escape was getting 5 mpg less than the gauge indicated, while the Jetta was getting 5.7 mpg less. The test also included a 2009 Mini Cooper, 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, 2010 Honda Insight, 2010 Toyota Prius, 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, 2010 GMC Terrain and 2010 BMW X5 xDrive 35d.

A 5.5 percent error in a car's estimated fuel usage might not seem like a big deal over a single tank of gas, but over the typical five-year period of car ownership, it adds up. Take a car that shows 25 mpg on its fuel economy gauge, but which actually is consuming 5.5 percent more. Extend that over five years of driving at 15,000 miles per year and you get 132 gallons of unreported fuel use. That represents a substantial amount of money.

If a driver uses the fuel economy meter as the basis for budgeting, he would plan for five-year fuel costs of $12,000 (assuming fuel stays at $4 per gallon). In reality, the figure would be $12,660. The discrepancy is even larger for vehicles that have worse average fuel economy. The driver of an SUV or pickup that averages 12.5 mpg according to its fuel economy gauge might budget $24,000 for fuel. The actual cost would be $25,320 — a difference of $1,320.

But since our testing discovered that some fuel economy gauges are far more optimistic than the 5.5 percent average, some scenarios are even worse. It's entirely possible that our hypothetical 25 mpg car could consume 500 more gallons than predicted by the gauge over the typical five-year ownership period. That's $2,000, assuming $4-per-gallon gas. A thirstier truck or SUV might consume 1,000 additional gallons, adding up to $4,000 over five years. And, of course, it would be even more if the price of gas rises during that period.

The Manufacturers' Responses
Edmunds contacted all the manufacturers with vehicles represented in the two tests and asked for an explanation for these consistently overly optimistic fuel economy readings. A Ford spokesman replied that it was too difficult to find the right engineer to respond to this question. BMW and Volkswagen did not respond to requests from Edmunds.

Roger Clark, senior manager of GM's energy center, explains that the fuel economy gauge makes a calculation by counting the number and duration of pulses made by the fuel injectors as they squirt gasoline into the combustion chambers of the engine. The onboard computer system divides the distance the car travels by this estimated fuel consumption.

Clark says the gauge is "dead nuts accurate" — if you consider all the variables at work during driving, including temperature, driving conditions and driving style. The biggest fluctuation occurs because ethanol, which is blended with gasoline in varying amounts, contains less energy.

"When you fill up, you are paying for a gallon of gas, but the energy in that gas varies significantly," Clark says. This means that while the car's computer assumes the gasoline is providing energy to drive a certain distance, the fuel might have less energy and not propel the car as far.

The 5.5 percent average variation in the vehicles Edmunds tested "seems like a perfectly reasonable range to me," says Paul Williamsen, national manager of the Lexus College, where his responsibilities include service training for Lexus staff, dealers and corporate personnel. "I can't imagine any reason that any automaker would want to make drivers think they can get better fuel economy than they were getting," Williamsen adds.

Honda spokesman Chris Martin wouldn't comment on the accuracy of Honda gauges, saying he needed to do more research to give a good answer. However, he defends fuel economy gauges in general, and says that people should use them as "a driving-efficiency tool, not a precise measurement of fuel economy."

The gauges make their point best when they utilize symbols rather than numbers, Martin says. Many new Honda models have gauges that display color changes to reflect how efficiently someone is driving. This method is more effective at helping drivers learn to drive efficiently than is other feedback that might require more attention to understand, he says.

Mini's gauges are "very accurate" because they use real-time information, says Mini Product Manager Vinnie Kung. However, he adds that inaccuracies can come from such factors as fuels and even fuel tanks, which expand during warm weather. For instance, Kung notes that in the summer a Mini might be able to hold 14 gallons of fuel in a tank whose labeled capacity is 13.2 gallons. In the winter, it might only hold 12.9 gallons. This variation affects a variety of readings, including mpg and the "distance to empty" reading that shows how much range is left.

Don't Rely on the Readings
Steve Mazor, chief auto engineer for the Auto Club of Southern California, has a different explanation for the consistently high readings for the fuel economy gauges. The gauge "assumes it is a perfectly operating vehicle — and it isn't." For example, he says fuel injectors can become clogged and not deliver as much fuel as the gauge assumes.

Mazor certainly doesn't see any conspiracy by automakers to mislead the public with consistently high numbers, but says of the gauges: "We tell people not to trust them except as a comparative tool." In other words, a driver could use the gauge to see differences produced by changing his or her driving style.

Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing for Edmunds.com, thinks there's a better way to express the variations in fuel economy. He believes that rather than consistently present a best-case mpg figure to drivers, the calculations that power the gauge readout should incorporate some of the variables noted by the experts above. That's better than presenting drivers with "figures that are never under and always over" the actual fuel economy, he says.

And despite protestations to the contrary, Dan Edmunds says there is an incentive for carmakers to present overly optimistic mpg feedback to their customers. "Because window sticker ratings and mpg advertising claims are hard to match in real life, fuel economy is one of those things that is often ranked 'below expectations' on owner feedback surveys like J.D. Power's Initial Quality Survey," he says.

Whatever the reason for their inaccuracies, it seems that fuel economy gauges should have this label: "Your actual mileage may vary." And Dan Edmunds recommends using a second source for recording fuel economy, such as joining Fuelly.com and logging every tank of gas to get a more accurate reading. But for the technologically challenged, he recommends a hands-on approach. "Grab a pen and paper, keep track of the data yourself and come up with your own numbers."

from Edmunds.com
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks GeoSoul, I rather suspected that injector pulse-width was a primary input.

Al, A.S.E. Master Auto Tech/L1
 

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No problem k3.

Question: do you think there is truly a way they could ever come up with a 100% accurate mpg display?

From what I read it sounds just about impossible, but I'm a lay person & don't begin to understand all the tech aspects.

Thanks.
 

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Don't know the sensor inputs either,but our 2 2012 Souls were very accurate. My 2012 Hyundai Accent and our 2014 Kia Sportage both read about 1.5 to 2.5 mpg better than actual. Currently own the Soul + and Sportage LX AWD.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
It would seem that the gauge's reading of "average mpg" is inferred from the output of several sensors --- please notice that I've used the term "inferred". A more direct reading would would be dependent on measuring the actual amount of gasoline feed to the injectors and no such measurement is required. Remember that engine management-controls serve the primary purpose of reducing emissions and meeting CAFE mileage standards. Apparently the manufacturers do not consider the direct reading of fuel flow to the engine as being necessary to achieve those two goals.

All that said, the gauge's reading do serve a definite purpose, signaling to the driver the negative or positive impact that his/her use of the accelerator pedal has on fuel economy.

Several decades ago I equipped my Volvo PV554 with a vacuum gauge whose readings played a similar role in helping me to become aware of the need to mind my use of the pedal.

Al, PA licensed emissions inspector
 

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I've found my AVERAGE ready is very accurate - but over many tankfuls, not necessary individual calculations. I tracked it over 29 fillups and the difference was 0.05L/100 km or 0.2 mpg US. I think the gauge is very accurate, its the pumps that fill can vary and cause most of the discrepancy.

k3eax - how about telling us what you drive by filling out your drive info so it shows up on the left each time you post.
(told you, you would get more activity on this forum :sneakiness:)
 

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No problem k3.

Question: do you think there is truly a way they could ever come up with a 100% accurate mpg display?

From what I read it sounds just about impossible, but I'm a lay person & don't begin to understand all the tech aspects.

Thanks.
Not really, because there's no way to come up with a 100 percent accurate speedometer. It will always read higher the more the tires wear. Also, I'm not aware of any sensor that accurately measures the actual fuel flow. As far as I know, that's calculated based on injector pulses.

On my Soul, the AVG MPG is always accurate to within +/- 1 MPG compared to measured and calculated MPG. I suspect that 1 MPG is actually less than the margin of difference between gas pump cut-offs, so I just call it accurate.
 

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I did not trust my 2012's gauge so I checked it for about 4 months each fill-up. Turned out it was very close to what the guage said. At least good enough for me. I have an old Scanguage in my 2001 Astro and one of its features is an instant fuel economy reading. The funny thing is that the reading on the overhead consul is slow to change and often stays the same for weeks. The instant one on the Scanguage changes all the time. No idea why.
 

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I did not trust my 2012's gauge so I checked it for about 4 months each fill-up. Turned out it was very close to what the guage said. At least good enough for me. I have an old Scanguage in my 2001 Astro and one of its features is an instant fuel economy reading. The funny thing is that the reading on the overhead consul is slow to change and often stays the same for weeks. The instant one on the Scanguage changes all the time. No idea why.
Why? That's easy..... because as the road surface changes, up and down, and as your foot pressure on the gas pedal changes, more or less pressure, your gas mileage will also change, second by second. If that info is not helping you become a better driver, then you're not using it correctly.

I've had my own Scan Gauge II now installed on two different cars, over a six year period, and I do believe that it has made me a better driver, at least a more conservative one.

Besides the MPG and MPH readings, you can set the Scan Gauge to display two more readings. I like to watch my engine temperature and Alternator output.

The Scan Gauge can also display any CEL (Check Engine Light) code and even reset it if you like. I feel like it's probably the best $159 I ever spent on my car(s).

Happy Motoring!
TechnoMage :cool:
 

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Why? That's easy..... because as the road surface changes, up and down, and as your foot pressure on the gas pedal changes, more or less pressure, your gas mileage will also change, second by second. If that info is not helping you become a better driver, then you're not using it correctly.

I've had my own Scan Gauge II now installed on two different cars, over a six year period, and I do believe that it has made me a better driver, at least a more conservative one.

Besides the MPG and MPH readings, you can set the Scan Gauge to display two more readings. I like to watch my engine temperature and Alternator output.

The Scan Gauge can also display any CEL (Check Engine Light) code and even reset it if you like. I feel like it's probably the best $159 I ever spent on my car(s).

Happy Motoring!
TechnoMage :cool:
I meant to say but did not do a good job, is to note the difference between what the overhead console said and what the Scan gauge said. Both, I assume using the same data. And yes, I really like the Scan gauge.
 
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