Improving the gas mileage on 1999 Nissan Pathfinder

My 1999 .5 SE Pathfinder is in excellent shape & problem free. Extra’s, front camera/Wth voice record. Satellite radio with stock system still working great& remote start with alarm system. Body in great shape no dents & well matained and never left me stranded!!! At any time.spare tire never used.4 wheel drive works best in deep snow. My question? What would cause not so great gas mileage?12 around town & 18 on highway. How could I improve it. Also what’s it worth now? Thanks.

It is a rather large, heavy SUV and you are getting about the mileage these things get. The EPA rating is 17 city /19 highway but in my experience the EPA city figures are usually a bit high because they don’t consider sitting in traffic with little movement with the AC running or on cold days. Both hurt MPG’s. The largest change you can make to improve mileage is you the driver. Do and internet search “hypermiling techniques” to learn how.

As for mechanical changes - synthetic oil, and gear oil both help. Low rolling resistance tires run at 3-5 psi higher than Nissan recommends. Having the alignment set to the lowest amount of toe-in within specification. All will help but don’t expect more than about 1 mpg improvement.

As for value… it is nearly 20 years old. Sites like or can calculate the value used cars but one of this age depends far more on condition and desirability than anything else.

If you really want to save money on gas, trade it in for something smaller. It doesn’t make sense to carry a 160 pound person(average) in a 2 ton vehicule.

Replace the thermostat if it’s over 10 years old.

That’ll save you GAS…but won’t save you MONEY.

I owned a 98…pretty much the same as yours. the best I could do is 21 highway. That was done on long highway trips. Around town I averaged about 18/19.

The only realistic thing you can do is drive better. If you’re an aggressive driver then stop. This is the worse thing for gas mileage.

As for “hypermiling techniques” - may save you some gas…but may also get you killed. People who drive like that around here get run off the road. The techniques recommended in hybermilling is stupid and can even be dangerous (ex: “Drive without brakes” - EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND JUST PLAIN STUPID).

Thanks for your reply and will try all your thoughts. Thanks DC.

Thanks, will try your input. I have not done that in more than 10 years so it’s do. Thanks. DC.

Thanks for your input. I’ll consider doing that when my pathfinder needs to go ? I appreciate your input. DC.

as many other things, people tend to “overdo it”, but quite a few techniques listed there are reasonable

#1. keeping the distance to the car in front of you is generally considered to be a good idea, is it not?

I see way too many drivers who tailgate and then push their brakes on 2-3 second duty-cycle: they definitely burn way more gas than needed

I float in the traffic next to them, not giving them enough distance to jump in front of me, but still not having to use brakes most of the time, so I’m definitely saving gas to compare to these guys, but not anyhow put myself or people around in any danger. Looking “through” the car in front of you also helps a lot. Driving stick-shift anywhere in the past gives a nice sense of perspective in this regard :slight_smile:

commuting alongside a busy a 3-lane local highway, I often see familiar cars trying to gain that extra second and then I still see them around, jumping lanes as I exit it 12 miles down the road :slight_smile:

#2. planning your trajectory and trying to minimize braking is also not a bad idea (“try not to use brakes” is not a good description for it, it’s more like “picture it in your head you try not to…”)

I see a lot of drivers to follow the guy in the front of them, watching turn signal going on and still not changing lane for a smooth sail, even if road is empty, then getting back to acceleration

not every time, but most of the times I plan for the situation down the road for up to a minute ahead: you can plainly see people who are about to exit or about to change lane or simply a “lame duck” driver slowing down the flow, you can plan ahead and to make it seamlessly-smooth flow, not a last-second reaction when you hit brakes

#3. Coasting to a stop is not a bad idea either, if not taken into an extreme, where it becomes an annoyance to other drivers

#4. Rabbit-timing is fun, but is indeed a dangerous technique, so I use it only when road is relatively clear and I see not other drives who will take this as an opportunity to cut in the front of me, so this is a relatively rare “opportunistic thing”, not for rush hours

#5. One additional technique, quite counter-intuitive to some people: I get to my cruising speed quite fast, but not full-throttle: it allows engine to get through acceleration period faster and in higher %% of horse-power utilization, resulting in better overall efficiency, obviously it can be done only if you are the #1 on that traffic light

As an example of using vs. not using these simple things: my wife and I drove in one go from DC to Boston and back few days after that, local highways, not a busy I-95, so it was no traffic to skew results too much.
I’ve reset MPG counter on the car before every trip. My result on her Sentra: 40.5 MPG, her result: 36 MPG. I drive faster from the start, I drive slightly faster than a flow in general, but I’m instinctively trying to predict and plan for minimal speed change, she gets into all and every slow-goer in front of her, then brakes, then speeds up and passes, then goes back into right lane. I have 12.5% lead on MPG.
No drivers or animals were hurt when performing this particular test :slight_smile:

Yeah, but don’t go overboard on this. Some hypermilers will accelerate super-slowly which causes problems behind them, or they’ll coast down long hills and end up grossly over the speed limit, or roll through stop signs so they don’t have to waste energy stopping and starting again, or one of my favorites, they’ll turn the car off on long downhill straights so they can move without using any fuel.

These techniques will increase your mpg, but they are also incredibly stupid from a safety standpoint and should not be done.


my coworker, originally from Colorado, was telling a story where he would do exactly this on his old Beetle, as he would be able to get to his high school driving only downhill… getting back involved using some gas :slight_smile:

agree on the rest of @shadowfax points: one should not make squeezing every possible drop of MPG into a religion

I see you have remote start. One thing is to not warm up the engine by idling. Start it and get going, gently, within a few seconds (30 at the most, in subzero F temps.)

When it’s time for new tires, pay attention to the ratings for rolling resistance. There can be a MPG, maybe more, based on that factor alone.

Don’t carry around stuff you don’t need; if there’s a roof rack remove it if you can, or set its crossbars to their optimum position. The rack base on my 2007 Town and Country has little triangles to show the best position of crossbars.

Ironically depending on the age of the VW, this might have been almost OK, as not all old bugs had power brakes, and if I recall cars older than the late 60’s didn’t have steering column locks either.

Thanks for your input. Sounds like good advice and will try. Thanks again DC.

Thanks for your input. And good advice. Very helpful. DC.

Keeping distance is good…but these hypermillers tend to do it in THE LEFT LANE.

Minimize braking is one thing…but that’s not what the hypermilliners recommend. They recommend no braking Thus you just take your foot off the gas and glide down the road going slower and slower. Saving you gas, but dangerous and extremely inconsiderate for everyone else around you.

Good for you. But that’s not everyone of the hipermillers.

I’ve seen these jerks driving like this in and around Boston during rush hour. It’s dangerous and they are just down right being jerks. Practice the technique when no one is else on the road.

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The EPA figures for your vehicle are 14 MPG city and 17 MPG highway.

12 MPG around town and 18 MPG highway are easily in the ballpark as to what you can reasonably expect to get. There’s likely nothing wrong with your vehicle, and not much you can do with it to improve it’s fuel economy.


I agree with this completely.

Seems like a lot of folks currently driving large, heavy vehicles think that buying a smaller vehicle to drive some of the time will somehow save them both money and gas. Except in rare situations, you can only have one or the other.

Back when gas was approaching $3-4/gal here, I knew a guy who did a lot of driving with his Scion tC car. One day he decided he “had to buy” a motorcycle to ride instead of running the car up and down the road, so he could save on gas. Well, that was fine… but now he had to finance, insure, and maintain another vehicle. And give up the ability to carry his kids around on the motorcycle.

I knew another person who was driving an SUV back and forth to work, pretty long commute. She decided to buy a Prius, which was financed in addition to her SUV, to drive during the week to save on gas. Again… if you have to take on another payment, debt, etc. to “save on gas”… you’re paying more money, actually to spend less on gas. If you sit down and do the math, and be honest… you’re generally better off just keeping the land yacht that you have, really.

Rant over. Thanks.


no short trips
dont go out to taco bell for lunch
only go to work and than home
or, combine trips.
stop at grocery store on way home. or bank. or liquor store
short trips are a killer
and drive slower

We have a 2003 4Runner in excellent condition and a 2017 Sienna. Neither vehicle gets outstanding mileage, but I don’t concern myself with the mileage. Gasoline is a rather small portion in the total ownership of a vehicle. For us, the comfort and utility of a vehicle is more important than gasoline mileage. We like sitting up high. When my wife was working, she was a university administrator. When classes were cancelled because of, the office staff still had to report to work. My wife, as a professional administrator didn’t have to go in, but she believed if her underlings had to report to work, she should be there as well. She even was able with the 4Runner to get through heavy snow and get some of her staff to work so they wouldn’t lose day’s pay.
I’ve served my sentence in a Rambler, a Ford Maverick and a Ford Tempo when I thought gas mileage was important. I now don’t put a premium on gas mileage.
Driving habits make a big difference. When my son was a teen aged driver, we had a Ford Aerostar van. He got better mileage than I could. He was, and still is a.steady driver. It makes a difference.