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2007 Ford Focus with horrible mileage

9 months ago we bought this car used with 4000 miles (previously leased by a woman who drove only for errands around town). We have been watching the mileage and are getting at best 24 mpg combined city/highway. On a highway trip to Florida from Buffalo we got only got 27 mpg.This seems outrageously low! The 2000 Focus with 118,000 and manual transmission we turned in to buy this was still getting over 30 mpg. The Ford service manager thought the problem might be that the tires are oversized (Pirelli Four Seasons P205/50R 16). He also put an additive in the gas tank, which was ineffective.

Any suggestions?

(1) Oversize tires will make your speedometer and odometer read low, so you would seem to be driving fewer miles per tank. Exactly how much would depend on the exact size difference, which I don’t know. You could go on a highway drive and count off some measured miles and compare it to your odometer.

(2) That car is rated 23/31 by the EPA, and 4-speed automatics generally have poorer mileage than 5-speed standards.

(3) How often did the proverbial little old lady of this story change the oil? It should be done every 5000 miles or every 6 months, whichever is less. Taking lots of short trips loads the oil with contaminants. You can burn them off by taking occasional highway trips to really heat up the engine, or you can change the oil. If she never changed the oil you could have premature engine wear.

Thank you for a quick response. I will check my odometer on the highway, since the oil was changed at purchase and 6 months later. Focuslady

You may be changing the oil correctly but what about the previous owner?

True . I just googled the EPA rating for 2007 Ford Focus and got 27/37 from Autoblog Green. There’s a discrepancy!

If that car went only 4K miles in its first several years then it should have been maintained according to a “severe” service schedule (lots of short trips). Personally, I’d rather buy a 4 yr old car with 40K on it than a 4 yr old car with 4K on it.

Anyway, it probably wasn’t maintained on a “severe” schedule and I would be tempted to do a full round of maintenance - at least inspections, if not replacements of spark plugs & wires, filters, etc. Occasional short trip driving is hell on a car.

I’d especially service the cooling system, including a new thermostat and a check of the coolant temp sensor. Malfunctions here will kill fuel economy like almost nothing else.


The government changed their method to make it more realistic, and the web site has the new-method numbers for older cars as well. (See this note on autoblog as well.)

You get 27 vs an expected 31 for your automatic, that’s a 13% loss. You probably would have noticed if your odometer was off by 13%, but if your tires are 6% wrong then the other 6% could be normal variation (31 is an average, some will be lower and some will be higher). Or it still could be engine damage, and there’s really nothing you can do about that.

I’d like to know what the real experts here think about an engine with 4000 miles in 3 years that maybe never had an oil change.

Check for a dragging brake.
Cruise on the highway for a few miles, then coast down and stop using the brakes as little as possible.
Feel the wheels. If one is hotter than the others that one’s probably dragging.

Get the wheel alignment checked, and of course tire pressure.

Thanks. I’ve copied these suggestions and will take them to my service manager (at my dealer) and see about the full round of maintenance. They may have access as well to the maintenance schedule of the lessee, but I’ll bet this very low mileage is the culprit. I usually drive a car into the ground but it may be time for a trade-in.

We have been watching the mileage and are getting at best 24 mpg

If you are watching an onboard meter that indicates the current MPG, please remember that they are generally not very accurate. To find out how accurate it is with you driving, you need to compare a few tank fulls and comparing the built in monitor and the pen and paper results.

I can think of a few things, an oil change, an air filter change, proper tire pressure. A tune up.

In my experience, the new government ratings are far too pessimistic. The owner reports section of is currently down, but from what I remember, owners of the current Focus are reporting something around 32-33 mpg combined. 24 combined and 27 highway is far too low - something isn’t right, an I doubt its just the oversized tires.

If you have the SES model, then the tires are the correct size. Even if you have an S or SE model the stock tire size a 195/60/R15 which almost the same size as the P205/50/R16’s the difference in diameter is about 0.1 inch. As the others have mentioned if this is the automatic, it’s rated for 23 city and 31 highway, 26 MPG combined. 24 MPG combined is in the ballpark, as is 27 MPG on the highway, especially when you factor in things like A/C usage and perhaps driving at real-world highway speeds.

I doubt there is anything wrong with your car.