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Spring 2012 - Vol. 6, No. 2

Travis Credit Union - Home

Rising gas prices have car buyers saying...
I want my MPG!

With gas prices expected to continue to rise this spring, some analysts are predicting an all-time high for a gallon of gas this summer. If you're thinking of buying a new vehicle, putting fuel economy near or at the top of your shopping list is a smart move. By calculating a vehicle's fuel efficiency with your projected use, you'll get a better idea about the monthly operating costs of your new car, and whether a change in car make or model may be needed to keep your vehicle expenses in line.

Check out the window sticker
If you're browsing new cars at a dealership, you can find a vehicle's fuel economy, calculated in miles per gallon (MPG), in the EPA section of a window sticker. This sticker shows the vehicle's MPG for city driving, highway driving and a combination of both. The numbers for city and highway driving will be printed in large numbers.

According to, few new vehicles really get the listed highway MPG rating. That's because that number is based on factors such as an open road, perfect driving conditions and driving at a certain speed. But most of us get stuck in traffic and drive in all sorts of weather and temperatures. And we may not always drive at the posted speed limit.

With this in mind, it is recommended that you use the combined MPG rating to calculate your fuel economy. You'll find it in smaller print, near the bottom of the sticker. Starting with 2013 models, a new fuel economy label will make the combined MPG number more prominent. This new sticker will also include annual fuel cost estimates and greenhouse gas ratings.

Research online
If you want to learn more about fuel economy, you can visit the U.S. Department of Energy's Web site, There you can compare the fuel economy of various cars (old and new), learn how to calculate your own MPG, read up on why fuel economy is important and learn about electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. You'll also find gas mileage tips, fuel cost calculators and top ten lists of the best and worst fuel-efficient vehicles.

The Energy Department also publishes the annual Fuel Economy Guide to help car buyers choose the most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets their needs. Most vehicles are covered here, and it's a handy publication to have when car shopping, especially if you haven't yet decided on a make or model.

You can also research vehicles through our Credit Union Direct Lending (CUDL) AutoSMART page, where you can buy, sell or research new vehicles. Other good resources are and the car manufacturers' Web sites.

Get pre-approved
If you've done your research and are ready to buy, now is the time to get pre-approved for a TCU auto loan so you can negotiate with confidence! Simply stop by a branch, apply online or give us a call at (707) 449-4000 or (800) 877-8328.

Here's a definition of the three fuel economy estimates:

  • "City" estimate
    represents urban driving in which a vehicle is started in the morning (after being parked all night) and driven in stop-and-go traffic.

  • "Highway" estimate
    represents a mixture of rural and interstate highway driving in a warmed-up vehicle, typical of longer trips in free-flowing traffic.

  • "Combined" estimate
    represents a combination of city driving (55%) and highway driving (45%).

Travis Credit Union members have access to free, confidential advice from professional financial counselors through our BALANCE Financial Fitness Program. These individuals can help you understand and improve your credit report. Call BALANCE toll free (888) 456-2227, Monday through Thursday, 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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