Of the 2,500 drivers surveyed by the car lease website, less than half said that false MPG claims would affect their purchase decision.

W

ith gas prices hovering close to four dollars a gallon, one would think that recent reports of automakers making false miles-per-gallon (MPG) claims would have a major impact on the attitudes of car shoppers. But according to research conducted by swapalease.com, that’s not the case.

Of the 2,500 drivers surveyed by the car leasing website, less than half (46.9%) said that false MPG claims would affect their purchase or lease decision.

“I was surprised that people weren’t more up in arms,” Scot Hall from Swapalease told us.

gas Gas prices climb, but do people care about MPG?

Hall had a few theories as to why this issue was met with such ambivalence. 

“Some of it may be due to different needs,” Hall said. “If you’re a family of seven, a car that gets good mileage–like the Toyota Prius, for example—isn’t going to do you any good.”

Hall also pointed out that even though people know they should be concerned about MPG, it may not be such a high a priority.

“If you ask somebody ‘Is MPG important?’ the automatic response is, ‘Yes,’” Hall said. “But if you’re shopping for a car and you’ve narrowed down your search to cars that all get within a certain MPG range, say 20–30, you’ll probably buy a car that gets lower mileage if it meets the rest of your criteria.”

Another possible factor is that drivers have altered their driving habits due to high gas prices. A previous Swapalease survey found that potential car leasers were opting for lower mileage leases—taking a 10,000 mile lease as opposed to a 15,000 one, for example—which would seem to indicate that people are driving less overall.

Of course, it could be that people are so cynical that they expect MPG claims to be inflated, and in a sense they’re right. It’s not that automakers routinely falsify MPG numbers, but those numbers are not based on normal driving. 

So while your car could reach its potential MPG numbers (or even exceed them) if you never speed, or accelerate quickly from a stop, or don’t use your air conditioning too much, or keep your tires properly inflated at all times, chances are, if you drive like us, your mileage may vary.