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How many miles per gallon should I be getting on a 2001 Nissan XTerra? Can installing a remote car starter affect the MPG? How do I calculate my car's MPG?

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Amy Mattinat, Owner and Author at Auto Craftsmen Ltd

Greetings Angela,

The EPA states that you can get about 15mpg in the city and 18mpg on the highway in a Nissan Xterra. But if you live in a winter location, expect the mileage to drop significantly in the winter.

Installing a remote car starter shouldn't affect the overall mpg, unless you leave it sitting in the driveway heating up for a long time. Then you are just wasting gas and it will affect the over all mpg.

The next time you fill up the tank, record the odometer reading and reset your trip gauge to zero. From then on, every time you fill the tank, divide the miles you traveled between fill-up by the quantity of gas you bought. This is your car’s miles per gallon or mpg.

Example: You traveled 300 miles and put in 10 gallons of gas. 300 divided by 10 = 30 mpg

Here are some fuel saving tips:

· Slow Down! According to the Car Care Council, there is an aerodynamic drag on your car that at 70 mph is double the drag then at 50 mph. slowing down can increase your mileage. Each mph driven over 60 will result in an additional 10 cents per gallon down the fuel tank.

· Drive kindly! Don’t be a tailgater or an impatient person that passes everyone. All that rapid acceleration and hard braking not only wastes gas, but is annoying and can be dangerous. This bad habit can lower your gas mileage by 33% on the highway and 5% in the city driving, which can result in 7 to 49 cents per gallon.

· Avoid excessive idling! You get zero miles per gallon when the car it just sitting there idling away, and it also burns more gas than restarting the engine, puts wear and tear on the engine and adds to toxic emissions.

· Minimize air conditioning! In city driving using the air conditioner in hot weather can increase your fuel consumption more than 20%. An efficient way to utilize the A/C is to use it to cool off the car, then turn it off and use the air vents to circulate the air. You can do this repeatedly if it gets stuffy and hot in the car. Sunroofs and tinted glass also help to keep the car cool.

· Travel Smart. Using a roof rack or a carrier gives you additional cargo space with smaller cars, however a loaded rack decreases fuel efficiency by 5%. If objects will fit in the trunk this will reduce wind resistance and increase fuel efficiency. But, make sure you empty out the trunk afterwards because carrying around unnecessary items that weigh over 100 pounds also reduces an automobile’s fuel efficiency by 1 to 2%.

· Remember to check your tires for proper inflation! If your tires are under inflated then it can cost a mile or two per gallon. By keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure, they will wear longer and can improve your gas mileage by about 3.3%. You should check your tire inflation pressure (including the spare) at least once a month and definitely before every long trip.

· Are you in alignment? When your car’s wheel are aligned this will reduce tire wear, give you better gas mileage, and improve the handling.

· One stop shopping! Plan your shopping so you can do all your errands in one day. Park the car in a central location and walk between destinations. Several short stop and go errands can use twice as much fuel than a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance.

· Check out your gas cap. According to the Car Care Council, about 17% of the vehicles on the roads have gas caps that are either damaged, loose or are missing altogether, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year.

· Is your air filter dirty? The air filter is easily accessible and simple to change. Replacing a dirty, clogged filter can improve your gas mileage by as much as 10%, which is a savings of about 15 cents per gallon.

· Give your car a day at the “car spa” approximately every 30,000 miles. Vehicles have 4, 6 or 8 sparkplugs that every 1,000 miles fire as many as 3 million times. This creates a lot of heat, electrical and chemical erosion. The worn out and dirty plugs need to be replaced on a regular basis. A well maintained, tuned-up car may improve gas mileage by about 4 %, which saves you fuel, and money and reduces long-term maintenance costs. There are also many sensors that help keep the engine running smoothly and efficiently. Replacing a failed oxygen sensor could improve your gas mileage as much as 40%.

· Know how to handle the gas pumps. When the gas pump turns off, don’t try to add a couple more splashes to even up the dollar amount. A lot of newer cars don’t have room for any more gas and anything else you put in will end up on the ground, plus in the warmer weather fuel can expand and cause an overflow.

Best of Luck,

Amy Mattinat

Patty Streeter,  at


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