How Do I Increase Fuel Mileage on Ford Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The Ford car is in many ways a dinosaur; its huge displacement made Ford car big power, but it also made Ford car biggest of big-block engines an absolute pig at the pumps. However, there is some favorable news Ford car those who want to have their Ford car big-block and drive it, too. The Ford car was designed from the outset to provide massive low-end torque (as opposed to high-end horsepower) Ford car large truck and car applications, which does give it some potential as a gas saver when built to that end. However, you will have to start with a completely disassembled engine and build it up from scratch.

Under The Hood:

 How Do I Increase Fuel Mileage on a Ford 460 Motor?

Building the Short Block

Purchase a set of slightly dished high-compression pistons--you want pistons whose compression rate will be between 9.5-to-1 and 10.5-to-1. The high-compression pistons will increase both horsepower and torque across the board without any real penalty in fuel consumption, albeit at the expense of a requirement for high-octane fuel. The dished piston will help to reduce "squish" velocity in the combustion chamber, giving the mixture more time to burn and express its power at low rpm.

Have the tops of the pistons coated with ceramic thermal coating. This coating will help to reduce thermal transfer into the engine's oil and the cooling system, keeping the heat energy inside the combustion chamber where it can do some good.

Port and polish the cylinder heads' exhaust passages to help used gases and heat escape. Use a die grinder to eliminate the casting ridges around the valve seats both inside the valve "pocket" (the area behind the valve) and on the combustion chamber roof. The intake porting will help to keep the fuel droplets suspended in the air for efficient burning, and the exhaust porting will remove hot waste gases quicker.

Coat the tops of the combustion chambers, the insides of the intake ports and the insides of the exhaust ports with the same ceramic coating you used on the piston tops. This unorthodox technique will go a long way toward keeping heat where it belongs: out of the cooling system and in the combustion chambers and exhaust where it can make power and enhance exhaust gas velocity, respectively.

Install an intake manifold with long runners designed to enhance low-end torque. The optimal solution for fuel economy would be electronic fuel injection and a tubular-style fabricated manifold, but that may prove prohibitively expensive. You could retrofit a throttle body and fuel injection system designed for a 1980s 454 Chevrolet truck, but it would obviously require some fabrication on your part. Installing a manifold with long runners is a logical approach, considering the complexity of your options.

Install a set of long-tube, full-race headers and a high-voltage ignition system with a multiple-spark ignition box and modern-design spark plugs. You might also want to consider using a set of roller-tip rocker arms (to reduce internal engine friction), an electric cooling fan and an electric water pump to reduce parasitic drag.

Items you will need

  • Full set of standard and metric sockets and wrenches

  • torque wrench

  • Full set of screwdrivers

  • Dial calipers and clearance measuring tools

  • Piston ring files

  • Standard and dead-blow hammers

  • Allen-head wrenches

  • Assembly lube

  • Petroleum jelly

  • Die grinder and porting kit

 How to Improve Gas Mileage on an F250 5.4 Engine

Replace the air filter with the high-flow air filter. The air filter is on top of the 5.4-liter engine. Release the retaining clamps and pull the filter carrier out. The new air filter fits into the stock carrier. Insert the new air filter and slide the carrier back into the housing. Press the clamps back into place.

Remove the air intake that sits on top of the engine. The air intake is the large, plastic housing that says "5.4L" on top. Use a socket wrench to remove the three bolts that hold this into place and a screwdriver to loosen the clamps that hold the intake hose to the intake housing. You will be able to see the coil packs for the spark plugs, which are black cylinders. You will see eight total.

Remove the retaining screw holding the coil pack in place, and wiggle the coil pack free of the spark plug. Insert the spark plug socket and socket wrench into the hole beneath the coil pack to loosen the plug. Twist the plug counterclockwise to remove it. You will need to use a combination of extensions and swivel-arms to reach the plug.

Attach the new spark plug to the spark plug socket and insert the socket into the spark plug hole. Twist the plug clockwise to tighten it down. Reattach the coil pack and retaining screw.

Repeat Steps 3 and 4 for each spark plug. Work one plug at a time so that you do not mix up the plug wires.

Reinstall the intake housing and hoses in the reverse of their removal.

Take the vehicle to a muffler shop to be fitted with wider exhaust pipe and a high-flow muffler. Widening the exhaust pipe and muffler allows for smoother release of exhaust gases and lower consumption of fuel. The costs are slightly elevated compared to air filter and spark plug replacements.

Items you will need

  • Quad-head platinum or iridium spark plugs

  • High-flow air filter

  • Screwdriver

  • Socket wrench

  • Spark plug socket

  • Socket wrench extension

  • Socket wrench swivel arm

 How to Improve the Fuel Mileage of a Ford 6.4 Diesel Engine

Park the truck on a flat surface and place wood blocks behind the back wheels and in front of the front wheels. As you do the inspection of the braking system, each tire will be raised, one at a time with a floor jack. Lift the vehicle high enough off the ground to place a jack stand under the frame then lower the weight of the truck back onto the jack stand.

Remove each wheel and tire from the truck. Spin the disc brake rotors or drum brakes to check for rubbing. Eliminate brake friction by adjusting or replacing worn brake pads. Secure the tire and wheel assembly back onto the axle and tighten. Finish checking the brakes by raising the car off the last jack stand and lowering the vehicle to the ground.

Exchange old oil for new in the engine and transmission when specified. Inspect and replace wires and/or cables that become damaged with age. Finally, replace a dirty paper air filter with a performance filter from KNN to increase airflow to the intake. A tune up like this is a proactive measure to improve the fuel mileage of a Ford 6.4 diesel engine.

Avoid extended idling. Idling burns more fuel than starting the engine once you pass the 60 second mark. Turn the motor off if you expect to idle for longer than 60 seconds. Limit the time for warming and cooling the engine prior to driving. Eliminate five minutes of idling a week to gain a mile for every gallon.

Drive in the overdrive gear on the highway. The gear ratio improves gas mileage unless you begin driving too fast. Do not exceed 65 MPH. Driving for extended periods on highways can improve fuel economy if you are able to maintain the same, constant speed. Setting the cruise control can help maintain a constant speed; but if you are driving in changing elevations, it is recommended not to drive with the cruise control on.

Inflate all tires equally and maintain the air pressure as recommended by the data listed on the sidewall of each tire. Over-inflated and under-inflated tires rob your vehicle of mileage. The number one reason for lost fuel economy in any vehicle is improper air pressure in the tires.

Anticipate stops and starts when driving. Rapid acceleration and hard braking burn more fuel than is necessary. Driving at the best engine RPM will increase mileage by burning the fuel more completely, resulting in more miles per gallon. Recognize the behavior of the engine under your direction and how tiny adjustments can result in tremendous fuel economy.

Items you will need

  • Wood blocks

  • Air pressure gauge

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stand

  • Lug wrench

  • Flashlight

 How to Improve the Mileage on a Ford 4.6

Slow down and drive the speed limit. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, going faster than 60 mph usually marks the point when gas mileage begins to decrease. Utilize the cruise control on highways to help you maintain speed limits and improve gas mileage.

Reduce the weight. Your 4.6 L Ford may have a large trunk or truck bed, but by reducing the weight you can improve gas mileage.

Keep your car in good repair and keep up with Ford‘s maintenance schedule. For example, Ford recommends that owners of a 2009, 4.6 L, 6 cylinder Crown Victoria replace the fuel filter and air filter every 30,000 miles and spark plugs every 90,000 miles. Also, keep your tires properly inflated (as marked on the tire) and fix any issues you car may be experiencing such as leaking oil as soon as possible.

Turn off your engine rather than idling for long periods of time. For example, turn off the engine while waiting for a passenger who is inside a store shopping or while you load your car for a trip. Larger engines like the 4.6 L Fords use more gas this way than smaller cars.

Drive moderately, not aggressively. Lift up on the gas pedal when you see a red light or stop sign rather than speeding up to come to a quick stop. Speed up gently rather than flooring it. Speed up to 60 mph in 15 seconds instead of in 10 seconds, for example. Avoid following cars too closely. You’ll have to slow and stop at their pace rather than setting your own. Also, if you leave distance between you and the next car, you’ll step on the brakes less and therefore accelerate less.

 How to Improve the Fuel Mileage on a Ford Escape

Check tire pressure with a digital tire pressure gauge every time you get gas. Low tire pressure is the leading cause of poor fuel economy and also reduces tire service life. Examine your Escape's VIN tag, located inside the driver’s door frame, to find the proper tire pressure settings; do not go by what the tire manufacturer says on the tire sidewall.

Inflate tires to the proper setting using compressed air. Either purchase a portable air compressor from a hardware store or swing by a gas station and use theirs for a small fee. Check the tire pressure with a digital gauge when done. Do not use the old slide style gauge as they’re seldom accurate in the beginning and lose accuracy the older they get.

Change the oil and oil filter every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, regardless of what the oil manufacturer tells you. Use a 5w-30 semi-synthetic oil and a professional grade oil filter for best results all year round.

Replace the Escape's fuel filter every 15,000 miles or less. A plugged or restricted fuel filter can adversely affect your fuel economy. While the fuel filter is often the most overlooked filter, in some ways, it’s the most necessary.

Replace your Escape's spark plugs every 100,000 miles. The fuel mileage and engine performance loss are almost imperceptible as spark plugs wear down, but you’re likely to notice a difference once you install new ones.

Items you will need

  • Digital tire pressure gauge

  • Compressed air supply

 How to Improve the Gas Mileage on a 351 Ford Engine

Consider the vehicle you are driving. Examine your car or truck for any items that are not being used and can be removed. If you have ski racks on the top of your car that you never use, take them off.

Clean and change your fuel filter at least every 30,000 miles. Keeping the fuel lines clean will help your 351 engine process the fuel more efficiently and keep you from having to refill as often.

Stop taxing your 351 engine unnecessarily. This means do not speed up and slow down if you don't need to. Do not exceed the speed limit just to get caught behind a slow moving vehicle.

Do not exceed 55 mph if you can avoid it. Your 351 engine will consume more gas if you drive over 70 mph.

Use the correct motor oil. The 1970s model of the 351 calls for 10w30 in the winter and in the summer. Depending on the year of your 351 engine, the combination will vary. Check the owner's manual to be sure. The right motor oil can save your gas.

Change your air filter at least every 50,000 miles. Keeping the air flow in your engine clean can help the engine run smoothly and decrease the amount of work the engine must do.

Check the condition of your spark plugs every six months for any signs of corrosion. If you notice that the spark plugs are corroded or rusty, change them immediately. Since your spark plugs are what ignited the fuel to keep the engine running, they must be running efficiently to moderate your fuel consumption.

Keep the tires properly inflated. Check the inside label on the door of your vehicle for the recommended amount of air pressure.

Keep the windows closed. Doing this will decrease the amount of air drag on your vehicle which lowers the fuel needed to move your car or truck.

 How to Improve Gas Mileage on Ford F-150

Buy a high-performance air filter which will help increase horsepower and acceleration. The K&N filter has a 1 million mile warranty and you will never have to buy another air filter. You can take it out and clean it very simply (every 50,000 miles, or more often for better air movement).

Accelerate smoothly and anticipate red lights and take your foot off the gas ahead of time. Turn engine off when in lines at drive-thru or the bank to avoid idling the engine unnecessarily.

Try purchasing a higher-octane fuel. You may make up for the cost difference at the pump by better performance and add a little to your mpg.

Make sure tires are inflated properly to specifications, and have your alignment checked. Check the front tires especially for wear and this will immediately tell you there is an aligment problem. If so it is likely that you will need new tires and a realignment at the same time. This will definitely improve your gas mileage.

Also try installing an Air Charger/Air Intake kit.

Items you will need

  • Tire guage

  • Air filter

 How to Improve the Gas Mileage on a 2.9 Ford Ranger

Maintain your Ranger regularly. Change the oil about every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Replace your regular oil with a good synthetic to reduce friction and improve the engine's efficiency.

Uninstall any aftermarket accessories including tires and wheels that are larger than stock, toolboxes, roll bars, additional external lighting such as cab lights, skid plates and lift kits. All of these can reduce your gas mileage.

Obey the speed limit. Whenever you drive your Ranger beyond 60 mph, you decrease its fuel economy. Every 5 mph over 60 equates to an additional 24 cents per gallon of gas.

Remove any excess cargo from the bed or cab before you head out, as the extra weight will translate to less gas mileage.

 How to Improve Gas Mileage of a Ford Explorer

Change your driving style. Accelerating slower and using your brakes less is the best way to improve gas mileage. Rather than accelerating and breaking hard at a stop light, anticipate the stop in advance and take your foot off the gas pedal to slow to a stop. Slowly press down on the gas pedal to accelerate. When driving on the freeway, use the cruise control on 60 to 70 mph.

Stay current on all required maintenance. Always change your oil on time and make sure other fluids are at the necessary level. Ford has a Fuel Saver Package at their dealership that includes an oil and filter change, top off for all fluids, tire air pressure check, tire rotation, brake system check and hose check.

Remove excess weight from your Explorer. Although the Explorer is a rugged SUV, you should remove extra weight from the inside and sport equipment racks from the roof of the vehicle. Racks on top of the Explorer make the vehicle less aerodynamic. Extra weight makes the engine work harder to propel an already large SUV.

Avoid driving during rush hour when traffic is slow. During rush hour, cars have to idle on the freeway and engage in a stop-and-go driving style. This type of driving reduces mileage, because it is similar to city driving and the Explorer is using gas but not traveling far.

Items you will need

  • Vehicle maintenance

 How to Increase My Mileage in a Ford Excursion

Slow down on the road. For every mile per hour you travel over 60, you burn more gas than at lower speeds. Because of its weight and dimensions, it takes a large amount of energy to push an Excursion through the air at increased highway speeds. This, in turn, burns gas at a higher rate.

Avoid aggressive driving. Accelerate slowly and use your brakes wisely. Hammering your gas pedal or slamming on your brakes is a good way to decrease your gas mileage.

Remove all unnecessary cargo from your Ford Excursion. These vehicles have extensive storage space, but you need to use it only when you must. Hauling extra weight will only cause the vehicle to use more gasoline. Consider removing any external add-ons that are aesthetic-only in nature, things such as grille guards, unused towing hitches, oversized mirrors and running boards or step bars.

Use the cruise control feature. This will help you keep the speed of your Excursion steady, avoiding the rapid acceleration that burns gas. Turn the cruise control off, however, if you're driving on hilly or mountainous terrain.

Avoid idling your Ford Excursion for excessive periods of time. It will actually save you money and gas if you turn the SUV off if you expect to be stopped for more than a few minutes, then start it when you're ready to move.

Perform regular maintenance on your Excursion. Making sure that your engine is running smoothly is important to maintaining good gas mileage. When you change your regular engine oil, replace it with a good synthetic as this will allow your engine to run more efficiently. Also check your tires regularly to ensure that they are fully inflated. Replace your air filter and install a performance air intake. Because the engine is so large on your Ford Excursion, it needs a hefty supply of clean air to keep it running at its best.

 How to Improve Mileage With a Ford 6-Liter Power Stroke Engine

Change the oil and filter regularly with a high quality filter, such as a Motorcraft, Wix or Napa Gold Line. Make sure to use 15w40 detergent oil that is approved for 6.0L engines. The scheduled maintenance guide calls for an oil change every 5,000 miles or 200 engine hours if the truck is operated in severe duty conditions. Using the truck in a metropolitan area, a dusty area, making frequent short trips, driving in stop and go traffic and towing all fall under severe duty criteria. Chances are, if you drive a truck in the United States or Europe, you fall into the severe duty category. Dirty oil can sludge up fuel injectors, preventing them from operating at full efficiency and robbing you of fuel economy.

Replace the fuel filters every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. A plugged fuel filter can also lead to injector damage and poor fuel efficiency.

Replace the air filter as often as necessary. Trucks operating on dusty construction sites or farms may need new air filters as often as every 100 miles, depending on the amount of idle time in dusty conditions. You can test the air filter by taking it out and dropping it on the ground, intake end down, from 12 inches in the air. If any dirt at all is displaced onto the ground, replace the filter.

Pour a bottle of Cetane booster into every other tank of fuel when you fill the truck up with diesel. Cetane is to diesel fuel what octane is to gasoline. The engine is designed to run on a Cetane rating of at least 40. Unfortunately, many fuel stations get away with selling Cetane that fails to meet that rating. Cetane booster will ensure you reach the desired rating. You can purchase Motorcraft Cetane Booster through your local Ford dealer or purchase the Stanadyne brand at most truck stops.

Set your tire pressure every two weeks. Use a digital gauge to check the tire pressure. The tires should be set to the pressure printed on the VIN sticker located inside the driver's side door frame. Do not rely on the number printed on the tire, unless you have tremendously large, oversized tires with a lift kit or other suspension modifications. Of course, the lift kit and suspension modifications will rob the engine of fuel economy, so bear that in mind as well.

Items you will need

  • 15w40 detergent oil

  • Oil filter

  • Fuel filter kit

  • Air filter

  • Motorcraft or Stanadyne Cetane Booster

  • Digital air pressure gauge

 How to Improve Mileage for a Ford 4.9L

Avoid aggressive acceleration and unnecessary speeding. Doing so can cause your truck to use significantly more fuel. Driving aggressively can also compromise both your safety and the safety of others on the road. Try observing the speed limit and accelerating in a sensible manner instead.

Remove any excess weight from your truck. The unnecessary weight will add extra stress to the truck's engine and driving components, causing greater consumption of fuel and negatively affecting your gas mileage.

Avoid any extended idling. When your truck idles for any extended period of time, the amount of gas you get out of every gallon drops to zero. This has a significant negative effect on your mileage. Instead, try turning your engine off when stopped for more than a few minutes.

Take your truck to an authorized mechanic to have the engine and other driving components checked over and tuned. Improper tuning can reduce your gas mileage and cause the engine to wear out at an accelerated rate.

Change your truck's oil regularly. Factory recommendations for the 4.9-liter engine are to use engine oil with a viscosity grade of 10W-30. Certified synthetic engine oil can also be used. You should consult a mechanic when servicing a truck of higher mileage as the grade of oil required may change.

Avoid accelerating when driving uphill. Your truck will already have to use more gas to overcome the forces of gravity. Accelerating uphill will cause your truck to use significantly more fuel. Instead, try to accelerate to your desired speed before reaching the hill.

Inflate your tires to their proper specification as instructed by the truck's owner's manual. Over- and under-inflated tires can have a negative effect on your truck's gas mileage and can be a serious hazard when driving at high speeds.

Avoid opening your truck's windows when driving on the highway. The drag produced at high speeds causes the truck to use more fuel to maintain a certain speed, reducing your truck's gas mileage.

 How to Improve the Gas Mileage on My Ford Edge

Eliminate excess weight you might be carrying in your vehicle. If you are unnecessarily toting items in the trunk or on the back seat, you are adding to the pounds your SUV is transporting. The heavier your vehicle, the harder your engine is working. When your engine is struggling to operate at an efficient pace because of excess weight, your gas mileage decreases.

Adjust your driving style to reduce the strain on your engine. Heavy acceleration requires thrusts of energy from the engine and wastes gas. When pulling away from stops, accelerate gently and gradually. Keep your speed moderate and consistent to increase fuel efficiency. Plan your stops, allowing your vehicle to slow down so you don't brake with excessive force. The harder your engine works, the more gas it wastes.

Change your oil at every 3,000 miles. Old oil becomes sticky and thick and eventually disappears, leaving your engine's components to rub against each other. This grind causes stress that requires more fuel for hard work and ultimately destroys the motor's parts. Oil changes increase the life of your engine and improve fuel efficiency.

Keep windows rolled up, and use the air-conditioner in moderation. Open windows create drag and reduce fuel efficiency. Air-conditioning also uses more gas, so stay comfortable without overdoing it.

 How to Improve Gas Mileage in a Ford Bronco

Get an oil change at least every 3,000 miles. Ford has a fuel saver maintenance plan where you can get an oil change with synthetic oil, top off of all fluids, and an inspection of the brake system, tires, air and cabin filter, battery, belts and hoses. Maintaining your Bronco is one of the best ways to improve fuel economy. A dirty air filter and old oil are two problems that can contribute to a decrease in miles per gallon. Click on the link "Ford Fuel Saver Maintenance Coupon" under "References" for a coupon for this maintenance service.

Stay current on all other maintenance. The last Ford Bronco was made in 1996, so most Broncos are due for major repairs, including new spark plugs and fuel injectors. Click on the link "Ford Maintenance Schedule" under "Resources" to find out when your Bronco is due for maintenance. You can either enter the year and model of your Bronco or the VIN number.

Remove extra weight from the Bronco if you do not need it. Extra weight will force the engine to use more power to propel the car.

Check your tire pressure once a month or before long trips. Deflated tires take more power to rotate, so keeping your tires filled to their recommended level will help maintain fuel economy.

Alter your driving style by accelerating slowing and not driving at high speeds. Do not drive over 65 to 70 miles per hour on the freeway, and slowly press on the gas pedal when starting from a stop. Trying to drive as smoothly as possible will help improve your miles per gallon, because the engine does not need to work as hard.

 How to Increase the Fuel Mileage of a 4.0 Liter Ford Ranger

Replace the air filter with a high-flow, lifetime air filter. The air filter housing, located on the front, passenger-side of the engine compartment, opens by releasing the four retaining clamps on the left and right sides. Lift the housing cover up and remove the old air filter. The high-flow filter is the same size and shape as the original. Insert the new filter and replace the housing cap. Press the four retaining clamps into place.

Pull the spark plug wire off of the first spark plug and position it to the side. Insert the spark plug socket and socket wrench into the spark plug hole until the socket grasps the spark plug. Rotate the plug counterclockwise to remove. Insert the new plug into the socket and press the plug into place. Twist the plug clockwise to tighten it. Press the spark plug wire onto the spark plug until you feel it click into place. Repeat for the remaining plugs. Work on one plug at a time to avoid mixing up the spark plug wires.

Take the vehicle to a muffler shop to have the stock exhaust pipe and muffler replaced with a larger, high-flow system. The costs of the system are slightly elevated compared to air filter and spark plug changes. Replacing the stock exhaust pipe will allow the vehicle to release exhaust gases easier creating a lower consumption of fuel. The muffler shop can also replace the stock exhaust manifold with a high-flow model for a substantial cost.

Items you will need

  • Split-platinum or iridium plugs

  • High-flow air filter

  • Socket wrench

  • Spark plug socket

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.