The Modest Odometer

So it sits there, glaring back at us, pleading with us to explore it, understand it and get some use from it. We, on the other hand, ignore it and move on with our daily lives. “It” is the vehicle odometer figure which we, on most occasions, routinely ignore. For the most part ignoring the many seemingly random figures it presents is normal. However occasionally there is something to be learned from the figures under our nose. So what can they offer? This week we set out to find out more.

So what can you learn from the figures

Fuel consumption

This is possibly the most important piece of information any odometer can offer. While many will know the manufacturers estimate of their vehicles litres per 100km many more will not know their own personal figure. Using the odometer figure, the litres in the tank figure and a simple formula ((Litres used X 100) / km travelled = Litres per 100km) you should be able to work this out.

Cheapest routes

When choosing a route for a long drive a few things need to be considered. Will there be service stations? Which route is the shortest? And last but not least; which route option is the cheapest? Experienced drivers will know that the quickest is not always the shortest and seasoned drivers will know that the quickest is not always the cheapest. For these type of problems a tripmeter should tell you the kilometres covered, however if your vehicle does not offer accurate fuel usage you will struggle with the figures for shorter trips.

Servicing schedule

This is possibly the easiest information to gather from your odometer. For new vehicle buyers the information on time between vehicle services is very simple. Most vehicle manufacturers will use a “every 10,000km or 6 months, whatever comes first” type approach. This is relatively simple as you just need to watch your odometer or calendar to find out when you need to get the vehicle serviced. For those who buy a used vehicle the thing to remember is that the vehicle may have had an inconsistent service record. In these cases you need to base your next service on the odometer reading of the previous service.

The other uses for fleet managers and Novated Lease holders

For this group odometer readings have additional implications. For the fleet managers conscious of fuel usage and trip times odometer readings are a critical part of a fuel and logistics management policy. Additionally kilometres covered can have implications for vehicle related taxes such as Fringe Benefit Tax. Fringe Benefit Tax (or FBT) is also very important for those with novated leases, especially considering the changes which have occurred in the area in the past 2 years.

Find out more

Find out more


Knowing your fuel consumption number can save you money in the short run and can add an additional game to an otherwise boring drive. Add to this the fact that the odometer reading can help you schedule services and you have a very useful number indeed. In newer vehicles the information is even more helpful as figures for the exact fuel consumption are becoming increasingly easy to use. These figures can be much more precise than working out the numbers by estimating the fuel used. With all this in mind its very likely that in the years to come these figures will become even more prominent.

Do you know your personal fuel economy figure?

Do you have even more odometer usages?

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