Car Sat for 2 1/2 years / gas mileage lower than should be


When my husband died, our second vehicle ended up sitting outside for almost three years. It was a 1995 Ford Taurus Wagon GL. Now that gas is high, and I no longer tow a trailer for our business, I want to get rid of my 4wd SUV and use this taurus.

I got it looked at repaired for a fairly small sum of money, and it seems to be running fine, and the local shop, which has a great rep, says its fine for a main vehicle.

However, despite a few minor problems, it has one major issue: It still only gets 11 miles to the gallon.

The shop says they changed the fuel filter, I ran the cleaners,the sparks are good, etc. They say they don’t know why the gas mileage is so low, and since Im a widow on disability, they hate to charge me for labor to look it over without a better idea of what the problem may be. My friends say it may get better as I drive it.

I am wondering, has anyone else had this issue, either low mileage on a taurus, or a car that sat? Is there a way to boost the mileage of my taurus to more than 11 miles a gallon?

I tried to sell it and my SUV both to get a used subaru station wagon with better MPG and 4wd, but can’t get enough money for them-- no one wants my two vehicles, and good 4wd stations wagons out here are prime.

I live in semi rural idaho, where mileage and 4wd are important.

The Taurus has over 150 k miles, and it is automatic. Its been tuned and cleaned. More info if you need it is available.

This car should get 25 or more on the highway.
Assuming your driving is not a lot of short hop/never fully warmed up engine type of driving, how are you determining this 11 MPG? Is it by the fill and check the trip meter method?

If the car is really getting mileage that bad then I would consider either a leaking fuel pressure regulator or possibly the ignition timing is retarded too much. You say it has been tuned but is it known if the distributor (assuming 3.0 V-6 here) has been dinked around with during this tuning process?
When checking and setting the timing on these cars it is critical that the SPOUT lead be disconnected. Failure to do so will throw the timing way off.

Another possibility could be a slipping transmission but I also have to assume this is not the case or it would be pretty noticeable?
Don’t get rid of this car for a Subaru. It’s as reliable and will get mileage just as good if things are right.

Another possibility: Some sort of critters, like mud dauber wasps , took up housekeeping in the tailpipe, restricting exhaust flow.

How much have you driven it since it was parked? If you haven’t been driving it much, you may still have some old stale gas in there that’s affecting the mileage.

I’ll also add to NYBo’s theory that critters can also take up residence in the intake tubing as well. I’ve seen a few cars where squirrels decided to store their nuts in the air-filter boxes.

Thank you all for your time. With suggestions, i can have these items looked at specifically.

I have been putting in a full tank of gas and using trip odometer. Book says its a 10 gallon tank, but when I filled it, it actually took a little over 11 gallons. Dividing the mileage by the gallons is how I determined the MPG.

Since getting it going, it has gone through three tankfuls of gas-- premium gas, with good quality additives from schucks. My mechanics told me the old gas should be done by now.

I do live in a small town, so I don’t hit highways often, but my friend drives a subaru wagon in the same environment and gets 24 MPG so even short hops seems that 11 MPG is a bit on the shy side. My mechanics also didn’t seem to believe me how low it was until I showed them the numbers.

I honestly don’t know exactly what has been done to the car. I took it to the shop, told them to make it road worthy, and they told me it was pretty much done. It wasn’t very expensive, in fact, it was cheaper to get this car running than to do a tune up on my chevy blazer! I told them to do the standard-- filters, check oil, plugs, etc.

The muffler is worn, but the muffler shop that inspected it told me that while it can stand to be replaced, its not urgent, and my mechanics told me that it would not cause that much of a reduced MPG. Since Im a widow on disability, I have been very cautious with lump outlays of money, but the gas is really adding up over the long term and I haven’t even been able to sellmy other car, a Blazer, to use the money towards getting this Ford really revamped.

There is not any indication I recognize of transmission or other major problems. Nor did the mechanic find any sign of such problems. I don’t know if they checked the timing, though I assume they checked the belts for wear and stuff. there is a musty smell in the car, that seems to be getting somewhat more noticible, but I attribute it to the warmer weather causing the smell to heat up.

There were several yellow jacket wasps in the door crevices and some leaves piled on top of the windshield and where the air intake is. I cleaned out as best I could, and the mechanics did not find it to be a problem when i asked. the mechanics did not seem to find any leaks, nor any obvious signs of animals within the mechanics itself. the A/C works fine, and there was obvious particulates coming out of the vents.

the mechanics I sent it to have the best rep of any mechanics in the area, and their prices have been pretty good for me and they seem legit. But I do feel at their mercy and kinda at a loss. But I can’t afford to pay the upfront costs at another shop.

I guess what I need to do is find someone in the local area good with cars, and see if they will barter with me for some car work.

And any suggestions for items to be looked at or OTc products are appreciated too. It gives me some place to start.

thank you very much for your time!

I would suspect the tank holds a lot more than 11 gallons, but that is not the problem. It may be related if you are not measuring accurately but it is not clear that that is a problem and the size of the tank should not make any difference anyway.

Does it seem to have normal power? How far have you driven it now? How far is your usual trip?