Poor economy - Mercury

I am driving a ?99 Mercury Marquis.

Since gas is $4 I have noticed that the car shifts down on a slight hill or at a gentle press on the accelerator and the gas mileage on the computer will decrease, for example, from 17 down to 12 when the tranny shifts down. The engine speed seems to stay in the moderate range.

So I called Ford first the locdal dealer, then costomer service in Detroit] to ask if there was alternate software to control the tranny. I told them many cars offer three selection ranges - power, normal, economy, and this changes the set points for shifting.

The response I got from Ford was flat out nothing. Like they had never even considered the idea. “Our cars are designed to meet the CAFE requirements”.

And that was it.

I am appalled. Any thoughts on this?

Harry Leffmann

6323 n Charles St…

Baltimore Md… 21212

410 377 0160

Do you really expect any car company to develop new software for a vehicle that is almost 10 years old? And, where would the controls to select the various power ranges be mounted? Do you also expect a car company to develop new controls for 10 year old vehicles?

Car companies worldwide are so caught up in trying to wring the best possible mileage out of their next models that they are not going to devote precious resources to new controls and new software for 10 year-old vehicles. And, the US car companies are struggling just to stay solvent at this point. Do you think that it is realistic to expect them to try to get you to keep your present car longer? They would be in a far better financial position if you bought a new car, and for that very reason, there is no reason for them to reinvent your 10 year old car.

You might not like this reality, but it is still necessary to deal with the realities of the marketplace and the plight of the car makers.

Chances are it’s programmed from the factory to be as conservative as possible. All that his happening is the transmission is downshifting; it’s supposed to do that. If you want have total control over what gear your car stays in, you need a car with a manual transmission. Or one with one of those manu-matic/shiftronic transmissions. You can get a piggyback controller for the transmission’s computer, but it’ll just make it shift more aggressively. Also keep in mind that you fuel economy is directly proportionate to the position of the gas pedal. Even if you don’t downshift and you are still on the gas. Guess what? Your mileage will decrease by the same and sometimes even more. Honestly if I were a tech and someone came to me complaining that their car was downshifting whilst traveling uphill. I would think that someone was putting me on.

First off, the MPG gauges are not accurate to the second (or all that accurate in general). Secondly, Ford has done a pretty good job optimizing their transmission for fuel economy because, well, they were designed to meet CAFE requirements-- there was a strong financial incentive for them to design the transmission for optimum economy. In cars with “multi-mode” transmissions, usually the economy mode will be closest to a normal transmission, with the “sport” or “power” mode having more aggressive shift points.

In the example of the hill, the reason why your MPG went down wasn’t because the transmission downshifted, it’s because you’re going up a hill and it takes more energy to go up the hill! If the transmission didn’t downshift, you’d lose momentum and would end up lugging your way over the hill and that would be much worse for your gas mileage than going over the hill in a lower gear. So the MPG gauge shows an instant drop in fuel mileage when you downshift, but you have to consider the total fuel usage for climbing the grade, which will be the same or higher if you stay in the high gear.

Really to drive for maximum economy, you need to drive in such a way that the transmission doesn’t regularly need to downshift-- it’s not the downshifting that’s hurting the economy, it’s accelerating hard and driving fast up hills.

On a side note, someone should really take his personal info off his post. Otherwise I’m gonna sign him up for all kinds of things, and maybe even prank call him. Just kidding. But it should be removed.

If you’re using the Instant MPG feature on a dashboard display then you should ignore that feature. The Economy MPG feature is more real world but not the Instant one.

There’s nothing wrong with my Lincoln Mark (4.6), it gets 27 on the road, 19 in town, and I can drop the Instant MPG feature down to 2 MPG on acceleration.

If your car is suffering the Check Engine Light will illuminate and/or there will be codes set.
Ford has done nothing wrong here.