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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — With gas prices high and families still tight on money, there may be no more damaging description of a new car today than to call it a gas guzzler. But finding truly fuel-efficient models can be difficult when most companies try to market their cars that way. Now, the government is stepping in to help consumers sort through these claims.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation released a new set of fuel-economy labels that highlight crucial information about each vehicle’s gas usage, greenhouse gas emissions and potential savings in fuel costs compared to the average new vehicle.

In the past, these labels, which are displayed on car windows in the dealer’s lot, have focused primarily on statistics about how many miles per gallon each car gets, but as the two government agencies noted in their announcement, the new labels represent the “most dramatic overhaul” of the labeling system in the program’s 30-year history.

“Today’s car buyers want the best possible information about which cars on the lot offer the greatest fuel economy and the best environmental performance,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “The new labels provide comprehensive information to American car buyers, helping them make a choice that will save money at the gas pump and prevent pollution in the air we breathe.”

For starters, the labels provide an estimate of the annual fuel costs for each car, based on the assumption that one drives an average of 15,000 miles a year and gas costs $3.70 per gallon. Moreover, the label displays the potential savings for each car by comparing the fuel efficiency to the average vehicle, which the agencies say gets 22 mpg. This way, consumers on a car lot can fully assess the costs of actually using the vehicle rather than just judging a car by the sticker price.

Consumers who are particularly concerned about the impact their car has on the environment will also find useful information about smog and greenhouse gas emissions on the label, rating vehicles on a scale of 1 to 10 with the higher numbers representing lower emissions. This way drivers can not only guarantee their new purchase will help their wallet, but the environment as well.

The agencies have even customized the labels for some of the newer types of vehicles on the market like electric cars. For them, the labels include information on the time it takes to charge the batteries and how many miles the vehicle can be driven when fully charged.

Impressively, the agencies have also built QR codes into the labels so that anyone with a smartphone can scan it on the lot and get additional information about the vehicles instantly.

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