No, this was not from trailering, but after going up an eight-percent grade at the 50-mph
Motoring right along at perhaps a wee bit above the speed limit (oh, c’mon, everybody does it), we started to notice that the proclaimed “miles to empty” on the dash and the mileage posted on the road signs didn’t quite count down at the same rate. Any hopes of reaching the cheap fuel in Kingman, Arizona, were dashed, no pun intended. Still, the thought of being able to go some 400-plus miles on a single tank while towing was a notable plus, and for us the main reason for towing with a half-ton in the first place.
It didn’t take too many more miles before we had to face the fact that our chances of even getting to Needles before running out of fuel were slim. Having already slowed down to nearly the legal speed for vehicles pulling trailers (a measly 55 mph) in an effort to conserve whatever little fuel was still left, according to both the fuel gauge and the lying SOB “miles-to-empty” meter, the truckers and maybe even the occasional bicyclist or road grader gleefully passed us. It sure looked like walking was in our near future, and on a freeway that’s boring even at 100 mph.
When filling up at a previously unknown to us gas station just west of Needles, most likely the proprietor felt sorry for us—he even commented on the large size of the F-150’s gas tank. For whatever reason, he charged us “only” $3.89 per gallon even though the signs clearly stated the price was $3.99. Luckily, the tank wasn’t completely empty and required only 34.235 gallons out of a nominal 36, saving us some money. We’d later have access to $2.41 gas, but under the circumstances, we were simply glad we didn’t have to walk anywhere, carrying a gas can we didn’t have and which most likely couldn’t have used in the newfangled Ford filler neck, anyway.
Traveling With a Suspicious Mind
Our focus had now largely changed from figuring out gizmos and features to getting a grasp of how many fuel stops we’d have to plan for. While we’d done this trip once before with a half-ton pickup and accomplished the trip in 12 hours, with three fuel stops, that time we weren’t pulling a parachute in the form of an enclosed trailer. Obviously, the trailer had a huge impact on the fuel economy of the F-150, probably much more so than the extra 5000 pounds of towed weight, especially at the speeds we were trying to maintain. So, while the dash claimed an average of 13.9 mpg, reality pegged it at a rather dismal 9.87.