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How to Improve Ford Ranger MPG

by Skip Shelton

The Ford Ranger is available in a variety of engine sizes and styles. The fuel economy ratings of the Ford Ranger is heavily dependent on the engine size, gear ratios, and equipped options, such as 4x4 or 4x2 styles. While the government publishes expected MPG ranges for given model years, the actual fuel economy is most dependent on individual driving habits, weather conditions, the state of maintenance and aftermarket additions.

MPG Enhancing Maintenance

Remove any unnecessary items from the cab and the of your Ford Ranger. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, for every 100 pounds you remove from the vehicle, your mileage can improve by as much as 2 percent.

Replace your Ford Ranger's standard fluids with quality synthetic replacements. Engine oil, transmission fluid, gear box and rear differential fluid should be replaced with fully synthetic fluids. Reduced friction in the drive train will result in less power required to accelerate and maintain speed.

Check tires to ensure they are inflated to maximum cold pressures. Tire pressures below maximum can reduce mileage by as much as 15 percent.

If your Ranger has more than 90,000 miles on its odometer, replace the spark plugs and fuel injectors. Spark plug gaps that are outside of specification will result in less efficient fuel combustion. Fuel injectors, even when clean, wear out. Worn injectors spray fuel irregularly, resulting in an inefficient burn, robbing the engine of power. Replacing worn fuel injectors and spark plugs can result in mileage improvements of up to 10 percent.

Driving Habit Changes

Reduce the frequency of aggressive acceleration and braking. Moderated acceleration, coasting to stops, driving within rated speed limits and limiting highway speeds to 55 mph reduce gas consumption.The U.S. Department of Energy suggests aggressive driving may reduce fuel economy by 5 to 33 percent.

Turn off your Ford Ranger instead of idling for long periods. Fuel consumed at idle significantly degrades total MPG. Fuel equating to as much as 1/2 mpg per tank of gas can be consumed within 5 minutes at idle.

If your Ranger is equipped with four wheel drive, avoid engaging the four-wheel drive, unless necessary. When the 4x4 gears are engaged to turn all four wheels, the engine consumes more fuel to accelerate and maintain speed.

Drive on the edges of the road when the road is wet. When your wheels are in the ruts of the road, the drag produced by the additional water can decrease mileage by as much as 2 percent.

Performance Improvements

Replace your air intake system with a Cold Air Intake system (CAI). A quality CAI system restricts and blocks engine heat from warming the intake air. Cold air is more dense than warm air. Cooler air entering the engine contains more oxygen than warm air allowing the engine to produce more energy from combusted fuel.

Remove exterior modifications that induce drag. Rain guards over windows, bug deflectors, ground effects and step-side rails all will increase the drag on the vehicle. Fuel consumption raises to overcome air resistance produced by these additions.

Replace the stock exhaust system. The stock exhaust system installed on your Ranger was installed by the manufacturer to balance cost with performance. Increasing the pipe size by 1/2 inch and replacing the stock muffler with a performance muffler can improve horsepower by up to 10 percent. Increased power output by the engine, combined with non-aggressive driving habits will increase the fuel economy of your truck.

Performance tune the Ranger's engine and transmission. On fuel injected engines, fuel air ratios, timing, fuel trims, idle speed, shift patterns, shift points and other engine and transmission optimizations can increase fuel mileage (and performance) by 10 percent or more. The OBDII port (found under the driver's side dash) can be accessed by professional tuners and hand-held devices to modify the Ford Ranger's on-board computer. Aftermarket hand-held devices such as DiabloSport, Hypertech and Superchips allow you to load a custom tune, make modifications, and restore the factory tune if desired.

Items you will need

About the Author

Skip Shelton has been writing since 2001, having authored and co-authored numerous articles for "Disclose Journal." He holds a Bachelor in Science in education and a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in management from Northwest Nazarene University. Shelton also operates a small automotive maintenance and part-replacement shop.

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