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Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV)

You’ve heard the catchwords your mileage may vary (YMMV) hundreds, if not thousands of times. YMMV began life as a small print (or quickly spoken) disclaimer, tacked onto the end of an automotive advertisement.

Perhaps William Safire could pin down the first usage of “your mileage may vary,” but it’s likely to have happened shortly after (or maybe when, but most likely not before) the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began testing the fuel efficiency of automobiles sold in the United States in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The subsequent popularization is a thing of legend.


YMMV … It’s obvious when you sit down and think about it.

One of our key points here at MPGomatic is that your mileage will vary, without a doubt. Caveat emptor … you need to beware and be aware … and drive like you care.

The EPA mileage estimates are merely estimates. A conscientious driver will be able to exceed those estimates in many situations, sometimes significantly. An unwitting driver will often fail to achieve the official numbers, sometimes dramatically.

It might be a contentious statement to some, but this is not a failure of engineering.

It is, in many cases, an operator’s error.

Your mileage may vary … depending on the conditions. One of the most important conditions is the ability of the driver to maximize the potential of the equation that is presented at any given moment. If we discount inclement weather, wind, altitude, traffic, inclines, quality of fuel, and temperature (among other things) from the equation, driver skill remains as the most important factor.

It all comes down to this … if you really care about getting the best mileage possible (out of whatever it is that you’re driving), you have to learn how to drive your vehicle in an efficient manner.

As MPGomatic tests cars, our stated goal is to meet and exceed the current EPA mileage estimates. We will not do this by driving at turtle-like speeds. We promise to stomp on the accelerator pedal when necessary. But we also promise to listen to what the vehicles are telling us and drive them accordingly. We intend to show (not prove) that the current EPA estimates are conservative for many vehicles.

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1 comment so far ↓

#1 Tina on 05.23.08 at 4:06 pm

Tell me more! This is great info, but tell me specifically how to drive more efficiently. Thanks.

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