Under the hood: Gas mileage less than expected

Posted4/1/2012 5:26 AM

Q. I bought a 2010 Elantra GLS in August 2010. Long before I hit 5,000 miles, I mentioned that the gas mileage was less than I expected. I can't remember what it was at the time, but they suggested I check the mileage again after it was "broken in."

Well, I've got more than 14,000 miles now so I checked. I'm getting less than 22 miles per gallon. The sticker estimates 26 mpg city, 34 highway. The recent mpg check I did was a combination of city and highway driving.

I'm retired, so there's no daily commute. I drive at a consistent speed (sometimes 2 to 5 mph above the limit), no jack rabbit starts, no hard braking. I am extremely disappointed in this car and am wondering if I have any recourse.

Can they make an adjustment to give me better mileage without making the fuel mixture too lean? How should I approach the dealer? I traded my 2002 Corolla which I bought in the fall of 2001 for this car. My old Corolla gave me about 37 mpg. Wish I'd stuck with Toyota!

A. Thanks for reading the column and thanks for your question. I am sorry your car is not working out like you hoped and I don't have an easy answer for you on this one. I have read some reviews on your car and the fuel economy is what most people loved about the car.

My advice would be to check all the basics like the air pressure in the tires and be sure you are not carrying any extra weight in the trunk. Fill the car up with a "top tier fuel" and document the mileage and date. After using half to three-quarters of a tank of fuel, fill it up again and document the mileage. After doing the math, if you still are seeing mileage below the advertised mileage, I would ask your service department to see if they can figure out what's going on.

If they still brush you off you may have to call Hyundai customer relations. When you go in to the service department bring your documentation along with the gas receipt so they know you are not just guessing at your mileage but you have actually calculated it. Good luck to you and I hope you get this sorted out.

Fuel Mileage Tip of the week: Another simple and inexpensive item you can check is the air filter.

There have been some recent studies that indicate a dirty air filter will not negatively affect fuel economy. The theory is that the computer will adjust the mixture to compensate for the loss of air flow.

As performance is affected by the reduced air flow, it stands to reason more gas will be consumed trying to maintain the same performance levels. My advice is to keep a clean air filter in your car.

• Douglas Automotive is at 312 S. Hager Ave., Barrington, (847) 381-0454, and 123 Virginia Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 356-0440. For information, visit douglasautomotive.com. Send questions to underthehood@dailyherald.com.

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