Calculator: Should You Buy a More Gas Efficient Car?

2010-01-24T00:10:05+00:00Shopping, Tools|

Want to know if it’s time to trade in your current gas guzzling car for a more fuel efficient car? The Should You Buy a More Gas Efficient Car? calculator goes the distance by letting you know when it’s time to trade in the SUV for something more like a hybrid. You may just be surprised with the results!

Use the “Should You Buy a More Gas Efficient Car?” calculator to determine:

  • The break even point of a new car, based on gas consumption.
  • The yearly gas use for each car.
  • The yearly gas cost for each car.

To use the “Should You Buy a More Gas Efficient Car?” Calculator:

  1. Open the Should You Buy a More Gas Efficient Car? calculator.
  2. Enter your Current Car information:
    • Under Monthly Driving, enter how far you drive on a monthly basis. From the drop-down list, select distance in Miles or km.
    • Under Gas Efficiency, enter the gas mileage for this vehicle. The Gas Mileage Calculator will help you figure this out.
    • Under Price of Gas, enter the price paid for gas. From the drop-down list, select price in $ per Gallon or $ per Litre.
    • Under Trade-in Price, enter the trade in value for your current vehicle.
  3. Enter your New Car information:
    • Under Gas Efficiency, enter the gas mileage for the new vehicle.
    • Under Car Price, enter the price for the new car (don’t forget taxes and stuff!).
  4. Click Calculate. The Results display.

Example Data:


Does it make sense for you to buy a more gas efficient car? Do the results surprise you?


  1. MoneyGrubbingLawyer August 11, 2008 at 5:17 am

    Great calculator, SquawkFox!

    According to the calculator, it would only be worthwhile to trade in my Legacy for a Prius if I plan to keep it for 24 years. Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to happen :).

    The one thing to keep in mind when using this calculator is that it fails to account for the non-financial reasons for switching to a more fuel efficient vehicle. If making the switch lets you sleep better at night knowing that you’re reducing your emissions, that can be worth taking a financial hit.

  2. Marci August 11, 2008 at 6:22 am

    It was NO surprise that it would not be cost efficient to trade in my car,an 8 yr old Forester, for better gas mileage.
    What was a surprise, was that it would take me 59.5 years to recoup the difference….. I had thought it closer to 20 years or so 🙂

    Nice calculator! Thanks!

  3. Marci August 11, 2008 at 6:27 am

    What was even funnier was when I ran my 34 yr old pickup truck, even at the highest price gas has been here, $4.39, it would take 103 years to make a difference! haha!

    Thanks again! Think I’ll just keep on with what I have, which
    is what I was going to do anyway!

    Do you see where Chev Tahoe’s are now coming in a hybrid version? Just heard that on the news this morning – they are out and available – but probably in high demand also!

  4. Kerry August 11, 2008 at 7:33 am

    @MoneyGrubbingLaw You are absolutely correct!

    @Marci I would say 59.5 years is a decent amount of time to break even. 🙂 My hope is more fuel efficient cars will come down in price…making this tool unnecessary. 🙂

  5. Marci August 11, 2008 at 8:22 am

    59.5 years is more time than I have left 🙂
    I only plan on sticking around 49 more 🙂
    My money, and me, will both run out of steam by age 103!
    (Or before)

    What is aggravating is that the technology for running on hydrogen has been available since the 60’s….. some big company has been covering it up all these years… I myself saw the car that ran on hydrogen…He ran all over our beach in it!

    If the hybrids remain over $20,000, they are just going to stay out of a lot of people’s reach.

    Some of us don’t have the luxury of being able to take such a large financial hit, (even for excellent reasons)especially those of us making under $20,000/year. Guess we all have to do what our pocketbook and our conscience dictates, even if they sometimes conflict 🙂
    I’m already sleeping just fine knowing that I am completely debt free – and that’s the way I have to stay if I intend to retire in 1-6 years from now.

  6. doctorS August 11, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    Great calculator. It is such a useful tool for such a practical situation that faces many people in the U.S. today. I myself thought about selling my car since I do not get great gas mileage. I am pushing a 2003 Mazda6 GTE to and from work for a commute of 45 miles per day. It is not too bad but after doing the math it does not make sense because I got such a good deal on my car before and have it 75% paid off. I am just learning to find ways to drive less and use public transportation on the weekends when I hit up the city. Great post!!

  7. d2cold August 11, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    neat. used a similar calculation on my own when gas spiked a few years back so no results don’t suprise much. One big item missed by the calculator is the maint. required by older vehicles? Not sure how to expense it, but it does have some bearing.

    currently to trade my VW ’01 (gas) jetta to a newer civic ’05ish would be 10+ yrs around $1.4/L. Hmmm


  8. hank August 12, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Doesn’t surprise me that much. I know that is a big tactic of car salesmen now to sell that point, but knowing that it just isn’t quite ready to push yet. It’s sexy, but not very frugal yet…

  9. Zombie Money August 17, 2008 at 10:40 am

    I’ve read a lot on this issue also. Seems like many people are running out and buying new cars to save money on gas but unless they keep it for a long time it doesn’t add up. Maybe its the immediate results mindset.

  10. Llama Money August 25, 2008 at 7:16 am

    Something else to consider is this – if you’re going to make a change to a more fuel efficient car, going from 18 to 20 MPG isn’t going to matter a whole lot. On the other hand, if someone dumps their 12 MPG truck that they drive to and from work, and go extreme and get, say, a Civic Hybrid that gets 45-50 MPG… then the payoff can be very real, and much faster than you might think. Plus, folks who drive a lot will see a payoff much faster.

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