What Causes the Ford Ranger to Have Poor Gas Mileage?

by Gregory Hamel

Trucks and 4X4's Have Poor Gas Mileage

The Ford Ranger is a small-sized pickup truck that Ford Motor Company began to produce in 1983. While the Ranger is smaller than a full-sized truck, it carries certain characteristics of a truck that tend to inhibit fuel economy. For one, bed and tail gate of pickup trucks are optimized for storage and hauling loads at the cost of increased wind resistance, especially at higher speeds. Therefore, a Ford Ranger hard top is likely to get somewhat better gas mileage than a pickup. Also, cars with four-wheel drive have lower gas mileage than those with two-wheel drive. Since trucks are often used for their all-terrain and load-bearing ability, many prefer the 4X4 version of the Ranger. All but the earliest Rangers use V6 engines, which provide the additional power that trucks need to haul their heavier mass and loads at the cost of fuel economy.

Failure to Maintain a Vehicle can Harm Gas Mileage

While the Ford Ranger will normally get poor gas mileage compared to a normal sedan, it should perform better than larger trucks produced around the same time, as long as it is maintained properly. The first thing to check is the air filter: a clogged air filter can drastically reduce fuel economy, and Rangers may tend to get things caught in the filter more than other vehicles. Old spark plugs and plug wires can also reduce fuel economy. As with any vehicle, keeping tires inflated to their maximum recommended level will improve gas mileage. Any modifications made to the exhaust system of the Ranger will likely reduce fuel economy, as will any leaks in the system. Taking a car into a mechanic for a tune-up can get pricey, but the cost can often be made up in increased performance.

Vehicle Size and Power Compromise Fuel Economy

In general, as a vehicle model is updated over time, the size of the vehicle and power of the engine are increased to make it more attractive than previous models. More massive trucks with larger engines will use more fuel, so even though engines have become more efficient over time, the tendency to upgrade to bigger engines dampens any increases in efficiency. Still, the 2009 model of the Ford Ranger has been tested by the EPA to get 21 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the freeway, which is a considerable improvement over earlier models. As increasing focus is placed on gas prices, cars makers are likely to focus more on increasing fuel economy than power and performance.

About the Author

Gregory Hamel has been a writer since September 2008 and has also authored three novels. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from St. Olaf College. Hamel maintains a blog focused on massive open online courses and computer programming.