| 5:16 AM EST

Do You Believe the Sticker Numbers?



Facebook Share Icon LinkedIn Share Icon Twitter Share Icon Share by EMail icon Print Icon

One thing that you may not know about Detroit is that the Detroit Salt Company has a salt mine 1,200 feet below the surface of the city.

The salt mine measures some 1,500 acres and there are more than 100 miles of underground roads.


I sometimes think about the Detroit Salt Company when reading the window stickers (a.k.a., monroneys) for the cars we have an opportunity to get into.

As in thinking about the numbers in the “Fuel Economy and Environment” box with a huge grain of salt.

Generally, the numbers are close. As in hand grenades and horseshoes.

Turns out that plenty of Americans don’t believe the stickers.

(I end up having the opportunity to drive many more cars than the average American, so consequently my disbelief is underscored by my own anecdotal experiences.)

“For years, we’ve heard that drivers question whether the fuel economy rating for their vehicle is accurate,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director, Automotive Engineering and Repair. AAA conducted the study showing the skepticism.

So, “In the interest of our members, AAA aimed to address this issue with a multi-phase testing series designed to uncover the real reasons behind fuel economy variations.”

Turns out that the sticker numbers are really pretty good. What’s more, based on an analysis of 37,000 records submitted to the EPA, which represent more than 8,400 vehicle make, model and year combinations, plenty of drivers seem to be getting miles per gallon runs better than those on the sticker.

As in those with diesels getting 20% better fuel economy than the EPA said and those with manual transmissions getting 17% higher fuel economy.

It does occur, however, that those who self-report their fuel economy are likely to be people who are really keen on their driving performance.

And that’s one factor, according to the AAA, which conducted its own real-world and dyno testing of vehicles to make a determination of the validity of the monroney numbers, that plays a role in what fuel economy is achieved.

Hard acceleration, heavy braking, idling, and environmental factors also play roles in MPGs.

It is interesting to note that minivan owners reported fuel economy equal to or lesser than the EPA numbers.