A collection of the most frequently asked questions on vehicle fuel consumption and emissions.
How are fuel consumption ratings determined?
Vehicle manufacturers test their own vehicles using standardized testing and analytical procedures to generate the fuel consumption ratings that appear in the fuel consumption ratings search tool and on the EnerGuide label affixed to new light-duty vehicles sold in Canada.
This controlled method of fuel consumption testing, including the use of standardized fuels, test cycles and calculations, is used instead of on-road driving to ensure that all vehicles are tested under identical conditions and that the results are consistent and repeatable.
Why is the actual fuel consumption of my vehicle greater than its EnerGuide fuel consumption ratings?
The published ratings show the fuel consumption that may be achieved with a properly maintained vehicle driven with fuel efficiency in mind.
The ratings provide a reliable comparison of the fuel consumption of different vehicles. However, it is impossible for a laboratory test to simulate all conditions that drivers may experience. Your vehicle’s fuel consumption will vary from the published ratings, depending on how, where and when you drive.
The following factors will affect the fuel consumption of your vehicle:
- How you accelerate
- How fast you drive
- The age and condition of your vehicle
- Temperature and weather
- Traffic and road conditions
- Using air conditioning and other powered accessories
- Using all-wheel and four-wheel drive
Also, there may be fuel consumption differences in the same make and model because of small variations in vehicle manufacturing. And some vehicles do not get their best fuel consumption until they have been driven for about 6,000 to 10,000 km.
The published ratings are a useful tool for comparing vehicles before you buy. But keep in mind that they’re based on standard tests and may not accurately predict the fuel consumption you will get on the road.
What do I do if I am dissatisfied with my vehicle’s fuel consumption?
If you are unhappy with your vehicle's fuel consumption even after taking into account the factors noted above that can influence its fuel use, let your dealership know of your concerns. It’s recommended that you create a log book to track and document your fuel usage. Contact the dealer and/or manufacturer in writing concerning your fuel consumption observations in order to allow them to check the vehicle for computer and sensor error codes or any other problems, and to work to resolve your issues. Use the log book to validate your vehicle’s fuel consumption performance with the dealership and manufacturer.
Why can’t I find the fuel consumption ratings of large pickup trucks and vans?
Vehicle manufacturers are not required to submit fuel consumption data for the following:
- sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and passenger vans with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 4,536 kg (10,000 lb.) – GVWR is the weight of the vehicle plus maximum carrying capacity (passengers and cargo)
- other vehicles with a GVWR of more than 3,856 kg (8,500 lb.) or a curb weight of more than 2,722 kg (6,000 lb.) – curb weight is the weight of the vehicle without passengers and cargo
Vehicles that exceed these limits are not tested, so their fuel consumption is not available in the fuel consumption ratings search tool or on the EnerGuide label for vehicles.
Why do the fuel consumption ratings of some vehicles in Canada differ from those of the same vehicles in the U.S.?
Although the same testing procedure is used, fuel consumption ratings in Canada can differ slightly from ratings in the U.S. for the following reasons:
- the U.S. ratings reflect U.S sales adjustment factors
- in some cases, different configurations of the same vehicle models are sold in the two countries
Also, if you are comparing mpg ratings, keep in mind that U.S. fuel economy ratings are reported in miles per U.S. gallon, whereas fuel economy figures in Canada are listed in miles per imperial gallon. The imperial gallon is 20% larger than the U.S. gallon.
How do I convert litres per 100 kilometres (L/100 km) into miles per gallon?
To convert between L/100 km and mpg (imperial), use the following formulas:
- mpg (imperial) = 282.48 ÷ L/100 km
- L/100 km = 282.48 ÷ mpg (imperial)
Note: 4.546 L = 1 imperial gallon = 1.2 U.S. gallons
To convert between L/100 km and mpg (U.S.), use the following formulas:
- mpg (U.S.) = 235.21 ÷ L/100 km
- L/100 km = 235.21 ÷ mpg (U.S.)
Note: 3.785 litres = 1 U.S. gallon
What can I do to reduce my fuel costs?
Once you have chosen the most fuel-efficient vehicle for your everyday needs, you can optimize your vehicle’s efficiency and reduce your vehicle’s impact on the environment by following these tips.
Adopt fuel-efficient driving techniques to reduce your fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 25%.
Don’t idle unnecessarily: If you are going to be stopped for more than 60 seconds – when parked – turn the engine off.
Use air conditioning sparingly: Due to the extra load on the engine, air conditioning can increase your vehicle’s fuel consumption by 20%. Roll down your windows when city driving, or use your vehicle’s flow-through ventilation on the highway.
Lighten your load: Roof and bicycle racks decrease your vehicle’s aerodynamics and heavy items in your trunk add weight, causing your vehicle to burn more fuel. Take only what you need.
Make one long trip instead of several short ones: Separate trips of less than 5 km do not allow a cold engine to reach its peak operating temperature, resulting in increased fuel consumption and emissions. Combine trips into one outing to save time, fuel and money.
Follow your vehicle’s recommended maintenance schedule: A poorly maintained vehicle may consume more fuel. Poor maintenance adversely affects performance, may result in higher levels of emissions and often leads to expensive repairs and lower resale value.
Measure the inflation level of your tires once a month, preferably when they are cold. Operating a vehicle with the tires under-inflated by just 56 kilopascals (8 pounds per square inch) can reduce the life of the tires by more than 10,000 km and increase the vehicle’s fuel consumption by up to 4%. To find your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure, look for the vehicle information placard affixed to your vehicle, or check your owner’s manual.
Are there any federal government incentives for fuel-efficient vehicles or disincentives for fuel-inefficient vehicles?
There are no federal incentives for the purchase of cars or light trucks. However, some provinces offer rebate and incentive programs for the purchase or lease of highly fuel-efficient vehicles; please contact your provincial government for more information.
Information on the Government of Canada’s Excise Tax (Green Levy) on Fuel-Inefficient Vehicles is available on the Canada Revenue Agency website.
How can burning one litre of gasoline, weighing less than 1 kg, produce 2.3 kg of CO2?
The additional weight comes from the oxygen (in the air) that combines with the carbon (in the gasoline) during combustion to produce the carbon dioxide (CO2).
Gasoline is a hydrocarbon fuel (i.e. one that is made up of hydrogen and carbon) that is very rich in carbon. One litre of gasoline, weighing about 0.75 kg, contains about 0.64 kg of carbon.
During combustion, gasoline burns in the presence of oxygen which it gets from air drawn into the engine. Each carbon atom in the fuel combines with two oxygen atoms from the air to produce CO2 (the other primary by-product of combustion is H2O – water). The oxygen component of CO2 weighs about 2.7 times more than the carbon content. Thus, the complete combustion of one litre of typical gasoline containing about 0.64 kg of carbon produces approximately 2.3 kg of CO2.