By Kelsey Mays on July 24, 2012
How is the EPA gas mileage on that new car's window sticker determined? It's a complex system, and federal regulators verify just 15% of the ratings, the Detroit Free Press reports. At its Michigan laboratories, the EPA checks between 150 and 300 of the 1,500 to 2,000 car models rated, including every drivetrain variant, the newspaper says. Automakers get 3% wriggle room — for example, EPA tests could render 30.2 mpg on a 31-mpg car — but above that, the EPA imposes penalties and requires the automaker to use the lab results. The penalties are substantial: up to $37,500 per vehicle per day, plus jail for anyone who falsified the report, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers told the newspaper. But the laboratory procedures, which comprise five drivers driving at temperatures from 20 to 95 degrees, are "literally hundreds of pages" long, an AAM spokeswoman told the Free Press.
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Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey