Finances & Money

An expensive gadget to monitor gas mileage

Just this morning (how very long ago), I wrote about the mental affects of a gas mileage computer in your car.

One of my frequent commentors, Samerwriter, commented that he uses a device that plugs into his car’s ODBII port and gives him real-time data about his gas mileage.

He has written a detailed, but personalized review of the product, called ScanGauge, at his site.

Now, the product is about $165, but if you have multiple vehicles, or just like gadgets and efficiency, you may be interested in the product. It’s a bit too pricey for me though. Since our Malibu is the only one of our 3 cars with the gas mileage readout, I’ll just stick with checking my MPGs at each refill.

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Clever Dude


  • It definitely is pricey, but one nice feature of the scangauge is that it gives other diagnostic information about your car.

    For example, my “Check Engine Light” has been coming on frequently on my new car over the winter. Normally I’d panic and take my car in to the dealer right away, but the Scangauge reads out the code, which I can look up on the internet, and see that this code really isn’t a particularly big problem.

    But despite that, my real use is to play with it as a gadget. On long drives, I can do experiments to see how my mileage is affected by rolling the windows down, turning off the AC, that kind of thing.

    For example I know that if I put my bike on top of my car, my mileage drops from ~25.5mpg to ~23mpg.

  • Our VW Passat had the real-time mileage readout, which was great. Sometimes it would show 70mpg and others 8mpg. It was a bit too distracting, but it was nice for testing. The Malibu only has the cummulative mpg.

  • sounds like a waste too…

    as for the person who found out that when they put the bike on their car, that it took down the mpg’s….with any added weight, it will take it down, also when you have something that disrupts the air flow of the car, it will cut it down also.

    please send me 165 dollars for providing this crucial information 🙂

  • This is actually a problem for me. I’ve rented a Malibu that had the digital gas mileage readout and I’m in love with it.

    I’m looking for a new car and this might unfairly influence my judgment. 🙂

  • GasDandy is an easy-to-use tool that tracks a vehicle’s mileage and maintenance information, providing data that can be used for both business and personal purposes. By making these figures readily available, the program also gives the consumer the opportunity to save money and to proactively identify problems that can shorten the life of their vehicle(s). Download a free trial version of GasDandy today at

  • I studied internal combustion engines while pursuing an engineering degree and 5 decades later I am still passionate about engines. I’ve worked for many of the top car companies and at many levels.

    Over the years the gas mileage issue has come up a lot. When people ask me how to get better mileage, my response is always the same: “Don’t buy automatic transmissions and, whenever possible, drive as if you had no brakes”

    The latter is especially important. Every time you step on the brakes you are turning kinetic energy (the car moving) into heat by friction (that’s how brakes work)

    It took the heat from burning gasoline to get you moving. Every time you brake, you are converting the energy once again. When you wish to move again, you must burn more gas.

    Practically speaking, it’s not possible to drive without using your brakes sometimes. However, if you anticipate your turns and places where you are likely to have to slow down, you will intuitively drive more slowly. The improvement in your gas mileage can be startling.

    Check your tire pressures frequently and run them a few pounds over the factory recommendations (you’ll likely find the pressures on a label inside the driver door jam.) The sidewalls will flex less, the handling will improve some and your mileage will improve too.

  • @Art, thanks for the detailed comment! Surprisingly, I also practice the “drive as if you had no brakes” mantra, which is definitely easier with a manual transmission (I have an auto truck). I told my wife recently that if you’re braking while going uphill, either the person in front of you did something stupid or you’re driving too fast.

    I will argue (lightly) against your recommendation to never drive an automatic. That was certainly true in the past, but now auto makers are producing automatic transmissions that are almost as efficient as their manual counterparts. And some people are just incapable of driving a manual; it takes all their concentration and coordination just to drive down a straight road.

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