Poor Gas Mileage on new FEH

Old 03-04-2005, 04:26 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
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Default Poor Gas Mileage on new FEH

I have had my Ford Escape Hybrid for one week. I like the way the car drives, but he average miles per gallon indicator and the miles travelled on a tank indicate that I am only getting 26mpg in the city, driving gingerly. I see some other users getting 32 to 34. Any recommendations? Does the gas mileage get better as the car is broken in?

Old 03-04-2005, 06:36 AM
Ridiculously Active Enthusiast
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 1,430

You will get better at achieving higher MPG figures as you learn to use the gauges and get the feel for the vehicle. One week is WAY WAY too early to be overly concerned... There are many helpful posts on this website that will aid your quest.

There are many reasons for cars not achieving max MPG in the colder months...

Car engines must warm up to a certain operating temp before they most efficiently use the fuel. Winter months and colder temps make that transition from cold start to most efficient take a little longer.

Also: new cars (and all the Escape Hybrids are "new" as of three months ago) have what is called a "break-in period" where the metal engine parts are still grinding against each other more rigidly, creating more friction, which also reduces efficiency. Over time, the "extra metal" shaves off and gets lubricated better (expecially if you use Synthetic Oil) and the friction is reduced, which affect MPG numbers.

Also: Hybrids use the "electric assist" much less before warmed up, and since the electric assist is key in MPG gains, the car must warm up before the use of the assist starts becoming most effective.

Also: Winter formula fuels used in most states hold less energy and this also hurts MPG.

Also: Generally speaking, colder weather in many areas means "rain, snow, or slush or ice" on the roads - these things add additional resistance which the tires must push out of the way to contact the road, so they hurt MPG in that way.

Also: Tire pressures also are lowered by the cold. Most people fail to properly inflate their tires all year, but ESPECIALLY in the winter when it is cold and you might have dirty tires and you just dont want to deal with spending time in the cold airing up a dirty tire. Low tire inflation can cause blowouts and adds quite a bit of rolling resistance.

Also: Additional idling uses fuel, and many people in cold climes are used to warming their car up in the morning. That is good practice to stay warm, but BAD for MPG numbers. While idling, your car is getting 0 miles to the gallon !!

Also: People who use the defroster in a Hybrid are many times using the A/C compressor to help reduce the humidity in the car and clear the fog. That is a MPG killer too.

See this science page for more explanation:


Old 03-04-2005, 06:51 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 3
Default MPG on New FEH

Dear Lars-ss,

Thanks for the quick reply. The concept of the friction in the engine may apply in my case, but the other issues would not, as I live in Sarasota, Florida, where it is 70 to 80 degrees right now.

I plan to put synthetic oil into the car, as I have will my past cars, so I hope that and the break-in makes a difference.

Matt Ross
Old 03-04-2005, 08:03 AM
Site Founder
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 4,623

Try checking the tire pressure. I think that may be one of the reasons why my mileage went from high 40's to low 40's lately. Or, maybe it's that I've been using the XM display instead of the Energy display since I got it, haha!
Old 03-05-2005, 01:49 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Yucca Valley, CA (Near Palm Springs)
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You will not get the EPA mileage in the city unless it is constant stop and go and low speed (a real-life city). I exceed EPA on the highway because my trips are 30-50 miles and like Jason says, I have learned to use a very light foot and play the car for all it's worth. My latest tank is best so far (33.92). I attribute it to a lighter passenger load, less city driving, warmer and dryer weather. After 6,000 miles my mileage is still increasing. Give it time and look for patterns where you get high mileage and try to repeat.
Old 03-05-2005, 02:21 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2005
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Default Appreciated

Dear Mike,

Thanks for the feedback. I am going to check tire pressure, change to synthetic oil, then give it some time and observe.

Old 03-05-2005, 05:36 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 307

Passed 5000 miles and kissed 30MPG this week...

Definitely the warmer weather is helping.
Old 03-21-2005, 04:07 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Dearborn, MI
Posts: 246

Several factors will have enormous impact on fuel economy. Driving habbits are only part of it. I have the 4x4 version -- which his rated about 3 mpg below the front-wheel drive version. No jack-rabbit starts and no hard breaking... I milk it.

I can get 33 in the city routinely and about 31 on the highway. But that's the mileage *after* the car is warmed up.

In cold weather it gets (as all cars do) very poor fuel economy. This is partly because the engine has to warm up, but it's also because the batteries neither charge or discharge much until they warm up as well.

Often the car will make just one brief trip per day (only a mile or two) -- hardly enough time for anything to warm up. When temps are well below freezing, the economy is (predictably) awful. I think the worst I ever got was about 23 mpg.

If I consolidate trips so that the car drives quite a number of miles after being warmed up, things are considerably better. It tends to average about 26-28 in cold weather -- again, this is based on MY driving patterns.

On heavy use days (the engine/battery cold for only a very small part of the day, but most driving was with a fully warmed up engine and battery) then it does extremely well. It also does extremely well in warm weather because the engine warms up in no time and the battery doesn't really need to warm up before it's usable.
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