Q. I believe I am in a “Catch 22” with my 2012 Hyundai Elantra. The company advertises the Elantra as getting 29 mpg. I complained of getting 16-18 miles per gallon with mine. Its analysis, however, indicated that it was getting only 15.3 mpg. According to the company, my car is operating as designed. At that mileage rate, I will be using 100 percent more gasoline -- about $7,000 over the life of the car at today’s gas prices. Hyundai has just finished its “final repair” and I have filed a Lemon Law complaint. I hope that you can help me.
SUSAN MILLER, Somerville
A. Having your car’s performance that much lower than what the window sticker suggests is certainly cause for concern. If you buy a car because it’s supposed to be fuel efficient, your expectations aren’t likely to be hovering around the 15 miles per gallon range.
Still, the Lemon Law is really intended for vehicles with mechanical defects, and at least a first blush, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
But Jim Trainor, a spokesman for Hyundai Motor America, said your fuel number is so far out of the norm that the company will send a “higher level field engineer” to check out the car.
“We’re happy to look at her car to make sure there’s nothing seriously wrong with it,” Trainor said. “This is not typical of the mileage that most drivers get with their Elantras.”
He said he drives an Elantra that performs far better and is sympathetic to your plight.
But Trainor also pointed out something that many consumers might not understand: the EPA miles per gallon estimates advertised on the windows of new cars aren’t based on actual driving. Someone who drives in Boston rush-hour traffic, for example, will typically fare far worse. As the the EPA’s fuel efficiency disclaimer notes, “Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.”
The question in this case is just how much worse than that estimate is acceptable? And what can – or should – Hyundai do about it? Stay tuned.
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About the author
Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs TheConsumerChronicle.com. He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at ConsumerNews@Aol.com