For many truck aficionados, buying a used truck is a great option. It lowers the payments, and in many cases, this can be accomplished without having to purchase a lower-quality vehicle.
But there are compromises involved, and one of them usually involves gas mileage. The simple fact is that used vehicles of any kind tend to get less mileage, so the EPA mileage figures that are listed when you buy a new vehicle no longer apply.
There are a host of other issues involved, however, so let’s do a breakdown. What follows is an overview and analysis of all things about used truck mileage, along with some recommendations for how to account for it when you go to purchase and maintain your vehicle.
Mileage Basics for a Used Truck
The first factor in determining the mileage for a used truck is the type of truck you’ll be considering or buying. Is it a full-size truck? A mid-size? A sport truck?
Each of these different types will produce different mileage ranges. Full-size used pickups, for instance, will generally quote a mileage number of 20-25 miles per gallon, and you can expect that number to be 10-20 percent lower than the quoted EPA mileage figures for a new version of that same make and model.
For a smaller used truck, the numbers go up accordingly. At the other end of the mileage spectrum, many used sport pickups will get 30+ miles per gallon, which is good for any vehicle, used or otherwise.
But size is just the first criteria for a used truck when it comes to determining a good mileage number. There are several others, so let’s keep going and exploring what they are and how they play into mileage.
How Age Affects Used Truck Mileage
The bad news in this category is that there’s usually no avoiding the negative effect of aging on a used truck’s gas mileage. The reason for this is simple—the efficiency and power of the truck slowly begin to decline the minute you drive it off the lot.
So what’s to blame? The biggest culprit is worn or faulty engine components, and there’s little you can do about that.
But the good news is that some experts don’t believe age affects fuel efficiency. This issue has been debated for decades, but there are mitigating circumstances in the form of other factors that tend to affect used truck mileage.
Other Mileage-Related Issues in Used Truck Performance
Many used truck owners and buyers are surprised when they learn how many controllable factors hurt the mileage of their vehicles, turning a good number into a lower milage figure that can be quite costly.
The biggest is speeding. If you do a lot of highway driving in your used sport truck, for instance, that 30+ mpg number that made you fall in love with the vehicle will start to steadily decline if you drive at 70-80 mph instead of 50 mph.
Tire pressure is another, smaller issue that nonetheless makes a difference. There is a 0.04 percent drop in mileage for each psi drop in pressure, so it pays to keep your tires properly inflated.
Frequent idling hurts, too. If you run a lot of errands in your used truck, for instance, your mileage number will go down, so try to consolidate them to keep that number wherever you want it to be.
Air conditioning has a significant impact, too. It can cut mileage by over 25 percent if you’re constantly blasting the AC, but the flip side of this double-edged sword is that driving with the windows open hurts mileage as well because it makes your used truck less aerodynamic.
The last factor we’ll cover here is routine maintenance, and the edict here is both simple and basic—do it, and you’ll continue to get good gas mileage in your used truck. Don’t do it, and you’ll see a drop-off.
Frequently Asked Questions
For most trucks (and vehicles in general), fuel efficiency peaks somewhere around 55 mph. So next time you’re on the open road, keep your speed in check and you just might see a boost in your gas mileage. This is in fact why in many older vehicles, you will find that the 55 mile per hour portion of the speedometer is larger than the other numbers, as this was considered the ideal speed for the best mileage.
Premium gas contains a higher concentration of octane, which helps to improve engine performance. As a result, premium gas can lead to slightly better gas mileage. However, the difference is usually only a few cents per gallon, and it may not be worth the extra cost for most drivers. Ultimately, the best way to improve gas mileage is to keep your car in good condition and practice fuel-efficient driving habits. So while premium gas might give you a slight edge in terms of mileage, it’s not the magic solution to high fuel costs.
There’s no magic number when it comes to good gas mileage, but generally speaking, anything over 30mpg is considered good. Of course, this varies depending on the type of vehicle you’re driving. A small economy car is going to get better gas mileage than a large SUV, for example. But no matter what kind of car you’re driving, there are ways to improve your gas mileage. By following some simple tips like keeping your tires inflated and avoiding excessive idling, you can help stretch your gas budget a little further. So next time you’re at the pump, take a moment to calculate your mpg. If you’re getting good gas mileage, give yourself a pat on the back. If not, there’s always room
So what’s the takeaway from all this? The first question you need to ask is how important a good gas mileage number is in terms of the way you use your used truck?
If it’s a high priority, do your due diligence when it comes to the type of used truck you buy, consider each of the factors covered above and try to alter any bad habits that may be hurting your mileage.
If it’s not, you can ignore some of these things, but keep in mind that you’re doing this at your peril. There’s money to be saved just by doing the basics, so unless you have money to burn, literally and figuratively, it pays to focus more on milage-related issues in your used truck.