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What is MPG (miles per gallon)?

  • Combined, urban and extra-urban MPG
  • How does it affect my car?
  • Parkers explains the ins and outs

MPG (miles per gallon) is the prevalent measure of fuel economy in the UK. It is the number of miles a car can do on one gallon of fuel.

How do mpg fuel economy figures work?

Urban MPG is the number of miles a vehicle can do on a single imperial gallon of fuel in a city driving environment. Extra-urban MPG measures a vehicle’s efficiency on B-road/A-road/motorway driving environments. Combined MPG measures a vehicle’s efficiency using a combination of urban and extra-urban driving conditions. Find out more and how you can improve your fuel economy in our handy guide.

How important is your MPG figure? 

The more miles-per-gallon your car does, the less you’ll spend on fuel. Just remember that official claimed fuel economy figures are calculated in a test lab and won't be that representative of real-world motoring. This has become even more relevant after the VW emissions scandal of 2015.

How to work out MPG

To work out your car's MPG and find out how much fuel you use, you can use your car's odometer (the little dial on your dash that tells you how many miles you've driven) and set it to zero when you fill up with petrol, then work out with a bit of maths how many miles you go on a full tank. Alternatively, lots of website can help you work this out. 

Fuel consumption calculator

It is important when you are buying any sort of car to know exactly what you are letting yourself in for not just in terms of the ownership experience, but cost also. So, you do need to know how much fuel your car is likely to use and what it’ll mean in terms of your monthly costs. Budgeting may be laborious, but it is necessary.

To work out fuel costs, visit our sister brand Fleet News and use their Fuel Cost Calculator

What MPG is my car? 

When you buy your new car, the brochure and information from the dealer should give you the car's claimed MPG figure to tell you how much fuel you can expect to consume. However, remember that this claimed figure is likely to be much higher than real-life numbers. 

Looking for more jargon-busting motoring meanings? Head over to our Parkers Car Glossary page and take a look at our other definitions