Kia Rondo Real World MPG



  • garnermikegarnermike Member Posts: 72
    I can understand your feelings, but I am a realist. My 2003 Monte Carlo, at 3400 lbs with a V6, used to top 30 mpg on the hwy. Your Aurora, with a V8 and at 3800 lbs probably got near to 28 on the hwy.

    My Rondo, I-4 LX, and at 3300 lbs, will push 28 mpg on the hwy.

    The Rondo, even with a V6, is probably a little underpowered for its weight. But the gas mileage difference is probably all about drag efficiency (or lack thereof) of the vehicle's profile as it cut through the air, and the tranny gearing. The drag of my Monte and your Aurora was much less that the Rondo's, for sure.

    I own a 2002 Firehawk, powered by a 345 hp LS1 V8. Next to a C-5 Corvette, it was the most "drag-less" design ever marketed by GM. That, plus a 6th gear overdrive, gives me 28 mpg on the hwy.

    Anyway, I love the functionality/versatility the Rondo gives me, and the ride, while not equal to some sedans, is much better/smoother/quieter than by 2006 Vibe, and my daughter's 2006 Civic.
  • e_net_ridere_net_rider Member Posts: 1,380
    Well, actually mine was the Classic weighing in well over 3900 lbs and with 20 gal of gas, probably well over 4000 lbs. But do not expect that milage over 80 and from 85 up it goes down hill fast. Sure would love a run in the Autobahn version, just once anyway.
    What I'm crying about is the milage with the I-4.
    Appreciate the input on Vibe and Civic. Don't like noisy cars since the Aurora.

    Drag could be a big factor. But can haul a 10 foot 2X on the inside (hidy hole in rear arm rest). And I guess I could put a roof rack on.
  • bobw3bobw3 Member Posts: 2,989
    Plus once you get a car going on the highway of any weight, it's pretty easy to get good MPG if it's aerodynamic, so don't try to compare the Rondo based on highway MPG but on average MPG compared to your other cars.
  • conwelpicconwelpic Member Posts: 600
    with over 4,000 km on my 2008 Rondo EX with the 2.4L, my mileage has ranged from a low of 26mpg to a high of 34mpg (imperial gallon).

    Regarding the aerodynamics, I have found that surprisingly, its not as prone to side winds as much as my previous vehicle which was 10" lower in height.
  • starzzguitarstarzzguitar Member Posts: 8
    I have a 2006 Sportage EX, 6 cylinder. Great vehicle. I get 18 mpg city average, and as high as 30 mpg on the highway going 70 mph with CRUISE CONTROL. I use cruise control as much as possible. I've also noticed that when I use the higher octane gas I get much better mpg than when using plain regular (87 octane). But generally I always use the cheap stuff because of the price. My wife wants the Rondo! She also loves to drive the Sportage because it's so fun to drive and the visibility is great all around. She has a Honda 2008 2 door coupe Accord! Go figure...
  • starzzguitarstarzzguitar Member Posts: 8
    Well my Sportage tells me my mpg average in the tripometer section, don't know if the Rondo does, but you have to zero out the mpg every once in a while to get your CURRENT mpg. I zero it out when I get on the freeway. Otherwise, you might think your mpg is bad because you just did a bunch of mixed city-highway driving and it's going to give you the average of both. The gas you use makes a big difference, also. And use your cruise control whenever possible!
  • bgwbgw Member Posts: 116
    I believe the only Rondo with a trip computer (including fuel economy readout) is the EX V6 Luxury model, which I have. Mine is a 2007, maybe more 2008 models have it.
    So far, I am getting about 24-25 mpg around town and up to 33 on the highway. That's in Canadian gallons (4.54 litres versus the smaller US gallon, 3.76 litres). That's with 2 adults and 2 kids, and when on the highway,we usually also have a full load of stuff. Of course, I also use cruise whenever I can.
  • starzzguitarstarzzguitar Member Posts: 8
    Well, that kind of mileage sounds good to me, Canadian or U.S.!
  • starzzguitarstarzzguitar Member Posts: 8
    Please, I know that the car is a KIA, but things are just not that weird. You are getting great gas mileage all the time, people are always trying to find something wrong. You've got a great vehicle, and the engine is NOT doing anything strange. Your gas tank theory is bizarre. This car is not that complicated. The tank is full or not. You cannot "force" more gas into the tank. I don't know how you are figuring out your mpg, but there are some factors that can make it vary: The quality of gas, city vs highway useage, and if you use cruise control when possible, and your driving habits. By the way, you will NEVER get 41 miles per gallon. Not even Kia will lay claim to that one. I have a Sportage 2006 EX V6 (loaded) and have not had ONE problem. I get about 18 city, 22-27 highway, and as high as 30 mpg on the highway with cruise. Also, did you know that the engine in the Rondo is the same one used in the the Dodge Avenger? Wild, eh?
  • garnermikegarnermike Member Posts: 72
    All I can say in reply is that I know how to calculate mpg and these were the figures I got on that trip. On one exit-to-exit expressway measurement, I got 41 mpg.

    Since posting that message, I've simply stopped filling the tank whenever the auto-off mechanism at the pump cuts off the filling. In mixed driving, I've been getting 19-28 mpg---pretty much how the car is now rated by EPA.

    I did have a spell where the mpg on 3 back-to-back tankfulls was on the low range (19-21), even though there was many hwy miles involved. I put a good fuel injector cleaner through much a full tank, and the mpg went right back, on the next mostly hwy miles tank, to 26 mpg.
  • sra1sra1 Member Posts: 20
    Rented a Rondo - LX V6 - from Enterprise over the weekend and got 22.356 mpg on it. City driving in Dallas suburb, but some on local freeway system.
  • hkstallionhkstallion Member Posts: 2
    I rented a Rondo V6 from national last week with 9k miles on it.
    I drove from RDU to charlotte, around charlotte for 3 days (avg 20-25 m per day)
    than back to RDU.
    I made it all the way back to greensboro on a single tank so i estimate around 400 miles on that tank going 80-90 on cruise.
    I filled up and reset the trip counter and headed back to RDU to return the car at 80-90 MPH on cruise.
    when i got to the airport exit i filled the tank one more time. it took 2 .0x gallons and the trip showed 81 miles.
    the gas guage said full, i ran it till it stopped.
    HOW DID I GET 41MPG???? that is crazy.
    could the gas tank be messed up and miss out on a full gallon?
  • garnermikegarnermike Member Posts: 72
    ...I too once recorded 41 mpg on my Rondo (2007, LX, I-4cyl) during an interstate stretch.

    Since the car really can't do that, and since I've never had it happen since, it's clear, to me at least, that I overfilled the tank and fill pipe on the 1st fill-up, ran the miles up, and then underfilled the tank.

    After 4 months of general driving, I range from 19-28 on the Rondo, only on rare occasions having it dip below 21 mpg. I'm getting used to calculating 23-25 mpg.
  • southernhivesouthernhive Member Posts: 15
    I-4 LX 3rd seat. I have over 25,000 miles on my Rondo. I range from 24-30 mpg in a mixture of city/urban driving. I estimate my average at 28 mpg.

    My tank fill-up fluctuates and it is hard to tell when the tank is really full. I try to always fill up using the same gas station the the same gas pump when possible. This is the only way I seem to fill the tank completely. I know that the tank is full when I get close to 80 miles before the needle moves from F position. I usually drive 400 - 450 miles per tank of gas.
  • crewzincrewzin Member Posts: 76
    I filled up the wife's EX V6 the other day and I wanted to get as much in as possible. I usually stop when the pump clicks off itself. When I do that the needle is usually right above the full mark, but this time I kept putting in more gas a little at a time and it kept clicking off but I kept on going. It took 1.4 gallons more than the first click off but it's a pain to stand there and keep pumping more each time it stopped.
  • garnermikegarnermike Member Posts: 72

    Consider yourself one of the lucky ones who owns an I-4 LX Rondo consistently getting that kinda of mileage!

    I once got 75 miles before the needle moved, and it was the time I recorded a spurious 41 mpg---a questionable measure that I've not repeated.
  • hopx4hopx4 Member Posts: 11
    That's great mileage! For the first 10 tanks of gas in my EX V6 I"m averaging 24.5 MPG. The range is from 21.9 to 27. My mileage is about 75% highway and its usually just me in the car. My commute is 42 miles each way and I do that in 45-50 minutes, so there are very few lights or stops. My highway miles are usually at 70-80 MPH.
  • southernhivesouthernhive Member Posts: 15
    I have a 72 mile commute each day on a two lane country road between towns. I travel 65 mph with most traffic travelling the same speed which means I keep the car on cruise control. I check my mileage everytime I fillup and the lowest was 23.5 mpg and the highest was 32 mpg, but I know both of those were not correct due to an inability to fill up the tank.
  • garnermikegarnermike Member Posts: 72
    After saying above that my wildly variable mpg calculation days may be behind me, it just happened again this week, over the same miles/driving course.

    Tank #1: 146 miles on 7.5 gal. = 19.5 mpg
    Subsequent Tank #2: 88.5 miles on 2.1 gal. = 42.1

    The tank I am working on now looks to be going back to the low side.....

    I'd understand some variability, but this great range is baffling. There's is no doubt in my mind that, on occasion, the gas tank allows a lot more, or a lot less, gas to be drawn in.
  • sra1sra1 Member Posts: 20
    If you are only filling up to the point the pump cuts off, one cause may be that pumps deliver at a different rate of flow and, depending on the capacity of the fuel filler pipe, it may cut off earlier at one pump than another. This would just be due to the fuel backing up in the pipe and tripping the gas nozzle prematurely.
  • vannervanner Member Posts: 47
    New 07 LX I4, first fill-up (put in an even 5 gal US before fill-up and that's added into the fill-up gals.) came out to 21.7 mpg. This is about 1/3 highway. 1/3 urban x-way, and 1/3 city streets, primarily 2 adults. No attempt to top-off, and we don't know just how "full" the dealer gave us on this initial tank. So this is only an indication.

    For the first 400-or-so miles, not at all "broken in", I see this as very good for this vehicle.

    Wife's car and she's extremely pleased that the mpg is SO much better than the '05 Sedona's 13 around town, 16 ave. Besides, she really LOVES this car! (She's yet to define a real "negative" and only a couple design "annoyances".)
  • vannervanner Member Posts: 47
    Second fill-up at 725 miles total.

    This tank ran 299.6 miles of 50% city streets and 50% urban x-way. Different station, same brand, but no effort to "top off".

    Took 12.7 U.S. gallons to fill for about 23.6 mpg.

    This, to me, is very good mileage for such a new vehicle.

    We have, however, discovered the first problem with the car. Right rear window no longer works. Fortunately, it no longer works in the "up" position! All others work, this one does not on either the driver's control or the local control. (Yes, the "lock" is off.) Power lock works fine, so the harness to the door is probably not the problem. My theory right now is a wiring connector to the motor came off, probably not completely connected in the first place. We will see what the service guys have to say about it and we'll report.

    Sweet car.
  • garnermikegarnermike Member Posts: 72
    Over 5000 miles and as the tankful calculations mount up, I am right at 24-25 US mpg level in my LX I-4 Rondo. Still get the wild swings (40+ or 18) on occasion. I've stopped trying to find out or explain why that happens.

    I do think that 24-25 mpg for a vehicle this heavy and roomy and a bit underpowered is just fine. Better than any minivan or SUV I can think of......

    And I enjoy driving the Rondo more and more each day.....
  • conwelpicconwelpic Member Posts: 600
    And I enjoy driving the Rondo more and more each day.....

    I totally agree with you, I find the same thing

    I am right at 24-25 US mpg level in my LX I-4

    I too find that my average daily driving is about this, which in my case is 29-30mpg CDN. I have just passed the 7,000km mark (over 4300 miles)

    Drives: 2008 Rondo EX, 2.4L, 5-seater
    Location: Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
  • sra1sra1 Member Posts: 20
    Road trip !!!


    Rented another LX V6 to go to a Texas Mile top speed race @ the Goliad (TX) industrial air park and got the following:

    346.9 Miles - 13.619 gallons of gas - $43.57 (Horrors) 5.85 Hours total travel time.

    Averaged 59.229 Mph for the above. Would have been better but took 1.3 hrs at a crawl to get through Austin, Tx. Don't think this helped the overall mileage at all !!!

    25.714 MPG !!!

    Next day managed to get the little devil up to 113 MPH on a TomTom GPS. So runs pretty well also.

    Return trip:

    341 miles - 5.20 hours = 65.577 mph avg.

    23.97 mpg

    (these may not be totally accurate as I filled the tank until the pump shut off each time and since it was @ different pumps it's possible/likely the tank wasn't full to the same extent each filling. Probably close enough for Govt. work however!!)
  • snapcracklepopsnapcracklepop Member Posts: 111
    "Next day managed to get the little devil up to 113 MPH on a TomTom GPS. So runs pretty well also."

    That is awesome. What model TomTom do you have? I use the ONE XL-S - really like that it tells me the MPH - I rely on it more than I do on my own car's speedometer.
    Sounds great.
  • sra1sra1 Member Posts: 20
    I've got a 910 TomTom. I've rented 6 Rondos now and have found that all of them read about 3 mph fast - up and down the range. What have you found ??
  • garnermikegarnermike Member Posts: 72 the 0.10-mile hwy delineators, the Rondo's odometer runs a perfect mile. Rough, I know, but it tells me that it's running pretty true.

    Question: might it be your TomTom, and not the Rondo?
  • sra1sra1 Member Posts: 20
    Well, first of all, the speedo and odometer aren't the same thing !! However, I have another GPS and I'll try it and see if it comes up with the same result.

    How close do you think the speedometer function is, and how are you checking it ??
  • garnermikegarnermike Member Posts: 72
    ...not the same thing, but their computations are directly connected w/in the electronic brain of the device.
    Again, as I pass hwy delineators, I can watch the tenths of a mile pass on the odometer. Align perfectly.
  • sra1sra1 Member Posts: 20
    well, on the above mentioned trip, the odometer and the GPS prediction of mileage were only about a mile off over the 346 miles or so. So, think the GPS is ok and I agree that the odometer is pretty accurate.

    Now, have you checked the speedometer for accuracy, and if so, how ?? ?? ??
  • garnermikegarnermike Member Posts: 72
    Nope. Didn't check it.
  • vannervanner Member Posts: 47
    Well, we made that first long highway trip with our '07 LX I-4, two-row. Louisville to Mobile via I-65, kicked around there some, and back. Two adults, a teen, a pre-teen and assorted and plenty luggage and gear. Probably real close to 800 pounds total. No crossbars this trip. Tires at recommended inflation. Cruise most of the time. Highway mostly 75 mph. (Of course, in the city, we did not have the luggage.) Started out with 1045 miles on the ODO, so still short of "breakin" probably.

    We had some really, REALLY violent weather on Friday the 4th. Drove through heavy to really heavy rain all day and strong gusty winds for a couple hours from Birmingham to Montgomery. (Tornado warnings and tornados on the ground between B-ham and Mont-g but we missed them.)

    Total 1548 miles with about 100 of that local "city" miles.

    We averaged 25.61 US mpg.

    Now, for me, that is very, very good! Our old Sedona V-6 NEVER got over 20 on such trips.

    An important note. At least I think it's important.

    My wife drove a tankful leg coming back up in fine weather, Tuesday. Northern Alabama and southern Tennessee hills. She sets the cruise for 70 because that's the law and she obeys the law. (Drives me nuts!) She also weaves in and out of lanes to get back in the right lane only to have to get over left to pass the trucks and campers, and that requires braking out of cruise a lot when trapped behind those trucks. Anyway, that leg we got 27 mpg. (I'll never hear the end of it!) So no doubt speed does play a role, maybe a big one up there at the threshold speeds. Maybe Kia engineers are awfully good at picking gear ratios for US style driving, at legal speeds at least? (Or there could be some law of laminar air flow or kinetic energy that says such a vehicle works better with the fat guy sleeping on the right side?)

    BTW, some strong, educated opinion here: For those considering a Rondo and caught between the V-6 or I-4, this I-4, heavily loaded, never downshifted even ONCE through those I-65 hills unless we made it do it for some reason (making it on from a ramp a couple times, and once with me driving to miss a loose wheel & tire that came off a trailer and crossed the median into our side!) and we never had the least bit of problem entering the highway off a ramp, even one I hate that comes on "uphill".

    All considered, we CHOSE the I-4, didn't get it because that's all they had. There were more V-6s than 4s available around here, and in fact we drove 85 miles to Lexington to buy ours just so we could get a 4-banger in the color we wanted. I feel we chose well for us, there's nothing at all lacking here. Power is adequate. For others with maybe 3-rows-full and more luggage, especially towing, you might make a different decision. I wouldn't turn down a V-6 if it's what a dealer has and you can make a deal, but don't shut out the I-4 if that's what you have to "settle for".
  • mechcadmechcad Member Posts: 3
    Hello All. I have been reading the posts here before and after we purchased our 07 Rondo EX-V6. We love the car except for the mpg. My wife drives 500 highway miles a week to work Monday-Friday (cruise at 72) and we rack up about another 300 on the weekend. (Central Illinois, very flat land) With almost 10k on the odometer it is only averaging between 21-22 mpg per tank. I could understand the sharp lows due to in town driving but this is the same average during the week with all highway miles.
    The crazy thing is; fill up in the morning, round trip to work 100 miles, fill up again on the way home at the same station on the same pump (fill until it clicks) and it averages about 30mpg. Fill up on Monday drive 300 miles fill up on Thursday morning tank full mpg is 21.
    1st time to the shop was at 3k for poor mpg. Recieved the statement "combination of winter blended fuel and not fully broke in until 5 to 6k miles" 2nd time into the shop was recietly with 9500 miles. Recieved statement "combination of winter blended fuel and not fully broke in until 10 to 12k miles". Any one have any ideas or thoughts. Possibly experiencing the same results? We seriously looked at the Mazda 5 before purchase, but the Rondo creature comforts won out. Now with fuel approaching $4 per gallon US, I am starting to think we picked the wrong horse.
  • garnermikegarnermike Member Posts: 72 mpg per tankful in my LX I-4 Rondo on occasion. Sometimes I can drive almost 70 miles before the needle budges from F; other times, barely 10 miles.

    As I've said before in this thread, am averaging, over 5500 miles, 24-25 mpg.

    I'm thinking that 21-22 mpg for the V-6 isn't too far from normal??

    Things/trends I have noticed:
    -mileage is worse when I gas up at a pump that conspicuously states ethanol added;
    -there's a big difference in my mpg between 68 mph vs 75 mpg; no surprise there, I guess, but I think it clearly reflects the weight and aerodynamics of the vehicle.
  • taximom5taximom5 Member Posts: 43
    I have noticed with every car I've had (either this Kia Rondo or Honda Accords and Civics) that the gas mileage is much better when I refill when the tank is down no more than 1/2 a tank.

    I don't know why, though. :confuse:
  • mechcadmechcad Member Posts: 3
    I've notice the swing on the gage too. Sometimes looks like you may get 100 miles on the first quarter tank other times just a sudden drop off.
    I think the most frustrating thing is that we traded off a minivan with a 3.4L V6 that was slightly getting better gas mileage 22-23. Include that with the weekly reference of my Elantra @29-32mpg and weekend 94 Toy pickup @ 19-20 with oversized off-road tires hauling dirt toys and other items.
  • hopx4hopx4 Member Posts: 11
    I have the same 07 EX V6 and am averaging 25-26 mpg confirmed by my Scan Guage (, since the US Rondo doesn't have real trip computer. I don't drive as much on as you on weekends, but have a similar commute to your wife - 42 mostly highway miles each way that takes me about 45 minutes; I drive 70-80 on the highway, can't use CC most of the time because of varying speeds/traffic, but also am rarely stopped by the few lights, and average about 56 mph over the trip. Throw in local trips to the gym, kids' sports, etc and I average about 500 miles a month. I'm not doing anything special to save gas; I use regular, don't drive 55, don't coast to lights, etc.
  • mechcadmechcad Member Posts: 3
    Hopx4, thanks for the info. The plot thickens. Possibly not enough in town stop and go driving. LOL. Daily commute is this. 2 blocks from our house. Stop sign. 10 straight miles rural road at 60mph. Stop sign. 1/2 mile of 40mph straight through town. Immediately on the interstate for 41 miles. 1/4 mile off the interstate and 3 quick turns later at work. Almost zero traffic in the mornings and light on the way home.
    Just a one more quick question what is the manufacturing date on your EX. Sticker located on the inside of the drivers door frame. Mine is 1/07. Thinking there may have been some manufacturing improvements (components/process) made during production run. Still wondering. :confuse:
    Thank you everyone for you feedback and polite comments.
  • hopx4hopx4 Member Posts: 11
    Sounds like a very similar commute to mine.

    My manufacturing date is 04/07.

    And I made a mistake on my last post - I drive about 500 miles per week, not per month.
  • cypresssaskcypresssask Member Posts: 2
    We are looking at possibly purchasing a Rondo but are concerned about mileage.

    It seems that everyone drives at maximum speed limits or higher. I need to get some idea of what someone driving at 100 kph (62.5 mph) gets. A bit of stop and go driving is expected as well.

    Can anyone help me?

  • garnermikegarnermike Member Posts: 72
    With an LX Rondo I-4, I've averaged 24-25 mpg (US) over 5800 miles. I do not drive exceptionally fast. On NC interstates, most of which have 70 mph limits, I'll typically do 68-72 mph.
    I have noticed that mileage improves noticeably on trips in which the higher speeds must be 65 mph or less (open rural roads).
    For what it's worth.........
  • bgwbgw Member Posts: 116
    I have an 07 EX V6 Luxury. I often make trips of 340 km one way (200 miles) with my wife, 2 kids and a load of luggage and stuff. The car currently has just under 11,000 kms (6,600 miles).
    At 115 km/h and continual use of cruise as much as I can, I am getting 32-33 mpg (Imperial). The last trip I made was with studded winter tires on (which are now off the car) and I still got 32 mpg.
    My trip is composed mostly of rolling hills, with quite a few steep inclines and declines for good measure. I suspect that if my trip was completely flat, like on the Prairies, then I could attain even better fuel economy.
    Around town, which is largely rural with few stop lights, I am getting 24-25 mpg (but I tend to do jackrabbit starts, which I gotta stop doing).
  • vannervanner Member Posts: 47

    '07 LX I-4, 2 row, just turned 3,000 miles, midwest US. Haven't done the first oil change yet. Next week.

    I just filled today at noon. 25.5 on the last tankfull: 533.0 miles, refilled 12.9 US gallons plus an even 8.0 gallons (US) the wife put in since the last fill. Total 20.9 gallons.

    This tankful was about 75% city with many stops, short trips to work and hustling kids around, shopping, etc. 25% urban expressways at around 50 mph average for that. Mostly two adult-sized people. Seldom cruise under these conditions, seldom AC with this weather. Probably no run longer than maybe 15 miles. Mostly the wife driving and she's pretty gentle with the throttle.

    Since you're asking, I'll opine this is VERY GOOD mpg for the car you get in a Rondo! I don't think there'd be a lot of difference with a V-6 - most reports indicate there isn't.

    Coming off an '05 Sedona that averaged 13-15 under these mixed conditions, we'd have been pleased with 21 city mix, and 26 highway. Needless to say, we're very pleased.

    (BTW: The fuel warning light had JUST come on about a quarter mile before I stopped for gas. 12.9 into a 15.8 gallon tank indicates to me our warning light on this car comes on with almost 3 gallons left. That's a generous warning.)

    We are really, REALLY in love with this car!
  • conwelpicconwelpic Member Posts: 600
    I am guessing from your name that perhaps you live out in Saskatchewan.

    I have the I4 and the vast majority of my driving is usually in the 60-80kmph range as I live out in the country. My commuting to work is in this range with the occasional run around the town where I work (40-50kmph)
    I have never done a true city fuel fill up or a true highway fill up, its always a mix. I have checked every single tank full since purchase and currently approaching 8,000kmph. The lowest is 25.8 mpg or 10.8/100kmph and the highest is 33.7 mpg or 8.4/100kmph. I would say my average for my general running around is 29mpg. I feel sure that if did a check on straight highway driving (like the 401) that I could exceed 35mpg. I purchase my vehicle at the end of October last year, so I have not had a summer run. I can usually get over 500 km before the low fuel light comes on.

    You did not state in your question whether you are considering a V6 or I4?

    Drive: 2008 Rondo EX, 5-seater, 2.4L
    Location: Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada

    (this info should be made available with every post automatically like on other forums - site host, lets get with it!)
  • vannervanner Member Posts: 47
    Maybe this article sheds some light on why some of our fill-ups seem crazy compared to others, and why we sometimes think we have errant fuel gauges:

    In case the article goes away, which they often do on Yahoo:

    Common glitch at pump adds to gas costs, also cheats station
    Saturday April 26, 10:19 am ET
    By Michael Gormley, Associated Press Writer
    Common glitch in gas pumps can give consumers less gas, can also cheat gas stations

    ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Angry about the price of gas? Just imagine paying for gas you don't get. Some alert consumers have noticed it over the years: A pump that seems to hesitate a second when the lever is squeezed. Anywhere from 2 to 6 cents tick off before the rush of gasoline starts. That's what happens with a common, hard to diagnose and mostly ignored problem with the "check valve," which is supposed to make sure gas flows at the same time the price meter starts.

    But even if your gas pump works, it can still be off as much as $5 for every fill up. Tests by local regulators allow a pump to charge as much as 6 cents more than the gas delivered in a five-gallon test.

    Don't blame the gas guys. Even consumer advocates say retailers may be losing as often as consumers and no one appears able to rig the meters. But the small "check valve" at the end of the multibillion dollar industry just wears out, and often goes unnoticed for months.

    Regulators' records show short staffing, particularly for financially struggling counties that try to inspect pumps every six months, but too often don't even meet the one-year requirement in states like New York.

    Federal standards require all gas pumps to start pumping gas as soon as the price meter starts, said Ken Butcher of the National Institute of Standards of Technology, part of the U.S. Commerce Department.

    Bob Wolfram knew something was wrong when the pump he used in Davenport, Iowa, showed he put two more gallons of gas into his tank than the tank holds.

    "I was low, but it wasn't negative," said Wolfram, a 54-year-old engineer.

    He reported it to a consumer Web site then took it to the government regulators, who acted promptly. But even then, the test showed the pump was only off a quart.

    "I just kind of said, `What will they do next?'" Wolfram said.

    Correcting the problem depends on alert, well-informed consumers like Wolfram. It also depends on honest retailers who choose to pass along reports to regulators who must confirm the problem before an authorized repair company is called to fix it.

    "There's one Mobil owner, he tells clerks that if there's a discrepancy within $5 to reimburse the customer," said C. Todd Godlewski, director of the Schenectady County Bureau of Weights and Measures in upstate New York, the agency that inspects pumps.

    "Yes, it can be that much," he said.

    A bad valve can also work against retailers, freezing the price gauge for an instant after gas starts. No one's sure who gets gored more, or how deeply.

    "Even one penny on the amount of petroleum pumped annually or weekly at a station would be several thousand gallons of fuel, and add that up," Godlewski said. "If you have a meter that is costing a customer, it adds up quite a bit."

    The problem compounds the aggravation of record high gas prices. On Tuesday, the national average hit a record $3.51 per gallon, according to a survey of stations by AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. That's nearly 66 cents higher than last year, and rising.

    "We'll hear complaints about this quite regularly, usually several each week," said Jason Toews, co-founder of the independent nationwide Web site that tracks prices and complaints.

    "It's mostly about the principle of it," he said. He said the problem usually only costs a consumer pennies per fill-up, but that's more than enough these days.

    Toews discounts the conspiracy theories that blame the problem on retailers or the oil industry. Most retailers, he said, wouldn't know how to alter the pumps to their benefit.

    A New York Comptroller's Office audit in 2000 found "many municipalities" statewide failed to inspect their pumps once a year as required (the best practice is two inspections every year) and that meters were corrected during testing, which could mask overcharging. Four years later, a follow-up audit found only partial resolution, partly because of too little staffing.

    Bob Renkes of the Petroleum Equipment Institute based in Tulsa, Okla., has heard about complaints, "mostly when gas prices are high." He said meters "get looser over time," which could make them malfunction and start to count pennies before fuel starts pumping.

    "I think our industry would love to replace anything that wears down," Renkes said. But the check valves aren't a high priority when the industry is dealing with issues such as preventing identity theft when swipe cards are used, static electricity discharges and the 5 percent of retailers whose old mechanical equipment can't register a price of $4 a gallon.

    State and local regulators doubt any but the most ambitious consumers would contact them in case of a problem, even though the phone numbers are on inspection stickers. More likely, consumers fume and wonder if they were cheated, or report it to the manager of the gas station or convenience store.

    "That's what's tough about this," said Jessica Chittenden, spokeswoman for New York's weights and measures office that oversees local inspectors. "The two cents or whatever would go to the retailer."

    Even when a report is made, and a local inspector is dispatched, the problem might not be fixed.

    Chittenden said a faulty valve would likely work sporadically: "It's very difficult to find it unless you are there every day several times a day."

    Godlewski, the upstate New York inspector, said he's found pumps off by as much as three times the 6-cent threshold. Because of it, his county this year is tracking pump problems and hopes to quantify it for the first time.

    "You ask yourself," he said, "`If nobody said anything ... and it's run like that for six months, how many were taken?'"
  • cypresssaskcypresssask Member Posts: 2
    Thanks for the info. Right now we drive a 2000 Suzuki Esteem with a 1.6l (getting between 40 and 45) so we are looking at quite a hit. That is why I would love to see the diesel engines that they use in Europe.

    My wife has limited use of her right hand and the Rondo is one of the few vehicles that she is going to be able to shift because it uses a gated shifter. We are also both over six feet with two kids 6'3" and 6'9" so we have been looking for a vehicle with better headroom. We haven't even test driven one yet but were totally impressed with the overall interior headroom, space and comfortable feel of the vehicle.

  • garnermikegarnermike Member Posts: 72
    In my 2007 Rondo LX, I-4 (with 6600 miles on the odometer), just finished a longish trip, 770 miles (round trip, Raleigh, NC - Gettysburg, PA), 95% of it hwy miles. Driving at mostly 68-75 mph. Two computed mpg tankfulls, got 25.6 mpg and 29.4 mpg, for an average of 27.5 mpg.

    No complaints.
  • hopx4hopx4 Member Posts: 11
    Over 7000 miles I've been averaging 25-26 mpg mainly on my 84 mile daily commute (42 each way); the commute is about 2/3s highway at 70-80 mph and I'm rarely stopped at lights or by traffic. Friday was my first chance to take the Rondo on an extended almost exclusively highway trip and I was curious to see the mpg. I averaged 25.2 doing about 80 mph for the first 100 miles, averaged about the same in stop and go traffic for the last 20 miles and obviously averaged 25.2 for that leg of the trip. I averaged about the same gas mileage on the return trip that was bumper-to-bumper traffic for the first 1/3, stop-and go for the middle 1/3 and averaging about 70 mph for the last 1/3. I had the heat on going up and AC coming back. My ScanGuage trip computer provided the mileage and confirms my tank fill-up calculations that have all been 23-27 mpg and an overall average close to 26.
  • garnermikegarnermike Member Posts: 72
    ....the I-4 generally gets only a tad better mpg than the V-6, with of course the V-6 having a tad more hp and pep. Based on what I'm hearing, whenever I buy another Rondo (and if the engines options remain the same), I'll make the actual purchasing decision based on color/availability--not engine. I could be happy with either slightly better mpg OR with slightly better pep. I just plain like the Rondo as a vehicle/model.
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