'04 V8 Explorer -- 8 MPG!? what am I missing?

Hi all -

I have an '04 Ford Explorer V8 (yes, yes, I thought I would be driving up to the mountains more often than city driving, well I was wrong) that is getting about 8 mpg per the digital reading for primarily city driving. Is this normal? It is almost paid off so I don’t want to trade in for a new car…Are there things I should do to improve the gas mileage on this or could there be something wrong? We do have the extended warranty from Ford and can take it in for repairs pretty easily. I have heard spark plugs, air filter, tires, etc. but I am not sure if it really needs all this and 8 mpg is the best I will ever get. I’d really love to hear if other Ford owners are getting better gas mileage and if so, what should I do to improve mine.

Thanks in advance!

Mom in Denver

If it’s shorter trips of mostly city driving, 8mpg is quite possible. Keep in mind the “city” driving that they use to get the EPA rating is usually driving at around 35-45 with semi-frequent stops. Really serious stop-and-go and gridlock will yield significantly worse mileage. Short trips also make it much worse, since your car uses much more gas while it’s warming up.

To know for sure, you could go on a fun roadtrip consisting of mostly highway mileage and see if it gets close to the EPA highway rating. Usually rural highway driving will yield more consistent fuel economy which should be close to the rating if there’s nothing wrong with your car. If you do get very poor mileage on this trip, we can start considering some mechanical issues. Also, don’t necessarilly trust the MPG computer-- measure it by reseting the trip odometer when you fill up and then dividing the miles per tank by gallons needed to refill.

Don’t trust that mileage indicator on the dashboard. I had a Ford Explorer last year as a job car and it did 18+ mpg highway (don’t expect anything better) but city figure was all over the map, according to the indicator.

You have to fill up, run the car till almost empty, then gas up at the SAME PUMP, and go to the first “click”. Divide the miles by the gallons purchased and you will have the ACTUAL mileage. Do this several times, and maybe one tankful on the highway, as mentioned, to get the “highway” mileage. If this is way off from the EPA, you may have a problem.

Four wheel drive SUVs do have significantly lower fuel mileage than an equivalent 2 wheel drive car, but you already know that.

Everything that GreasyJack and Docnick said. But also, the following:


We do have the extended warranty from Ford and can take it in for repairs pretty easily. I have heard spark plugs, air filter, tires, etc.[/i]

…made me wonder. Have these kinds of things been done according to the recommended maintenance schedules in your owner’s manual? If not, then they do contribute to gas mileage but should be done regardless of whether they will help the mpg or not. They are just a normal part of what ought to be done to take care of an automobile. And if they have been neglected, taking care of them will very likely make a difference.

Except in really weird cases of manufacturing defect, they are also not items covered by warranty.

you dont mention the mileage.

probably ready for a tune up.

but dont expect ford to do this for free. normal regular maintenance is NOT covered. this is up to YOU.

Thanks for the tips. I will check the mileage manually.

I have been doing the regular scheduled maintenance and recalls. However, I am not sure on the spark plugs. This is my 3rd Ford and I have learned that the extra $1K for the premium extended warranty upfront pays in the back end for repairs. I have had a few of issues with this car, ie transmission and battery - covered so far.

But I do need to replace the tires, any recommendations here? The car now has about 42k miles.

Thanks again for all the tips.

I would replace all 4 since it is an AWD vehicle. I’m surprised you already need new tires at 42K. Are they all season radials or winter/performance tires? Since it’s spring, I would get 4 all season radials with high wear ratings, such as Michelin X. They will likely last till you trade the car.

For winter this fall I would get 4 good WINTER tires on their own rims, such as Michelin X-ICE. They have fantasic traction in snow and on ice. Take them off the next spring and put the summer tires back on for maximum life.

Happy motoring!

“I would replace all 4 since it is an AWD vehicle”.

Where does the OP state the '04 V8 Explorer is AWD?

There are two models with AWD, one 2 wheel drive and 2 4x4s that year.

Your point of getting 4 new tires on at the same time IF an AWD vehicle is a valid one however.

Don’t put a lot of faith into that computer controlled digital readout. If your vehicle is really eating up gasoline that bad then the Check Engine Light will illuminate.

Yes, the air filter and plugs should be changed IMHO. You might also consider checking the tire pressure if this has never been done because one low tire will kill fuel mileage.
I’m a Ford owner (Lincoln Mark w/4.6 V-8 with 223,000 miles) and my car gets about 19 MPG in town. Maintain it right, drive it right, and there should not be a serious problem.


The V6 in your year/brand of vehicle is supposed to get 16 city. (Thats manufacturers estimate)

The stats I looked at don’t even specify the V8s mileage but I would venture a guess of about 12-13 mpg city.
Mpg changes with every different style of driving habit.
Everyone knows hardly anyone gets the mileage the manufacturer says it can. This is the real world out here.

You may want to get a ‘tuneup’ done.

The revised epa ratings are 13MPG city/18 highway. Your mileage is likely between the 8 mpg and 13mpg rating. First I would simply fill your tank full and reset your trip odometer and then run to near empty. Refill and divide the trip miles by gallons used to refill when pump stops(do not top). This will give you # to go from for MPG and verify your trip computer.

Trading most places will give you nothing for this as no one is buying used thirsty SUV’s except those looking for an absolute bargain and a need for them.

Friend has 04 explorer. Great looking and riding vehicle. Gets 12 mpg around town but only hauls himself and his skinny wife around. Also, the vehicle has only 17000 miles on it. He’s looking to dump it but nobody wants it except Carmax and he says he’s going to take a beating on it. It’s also a V8. He’s very easy on the pedal and no longer hard accelerates like he used to back when gas was half what it is. Maybe that will help.