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Thread: Ford retooling all its cars to run on regular unleaded

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Ford retooling all its cars to run on regular unleaded

    With per-gallon prices hovering around $4, customers are sensitive to every penny spent at the pump, and Ford Motor Company is leveraging technologies to help consumers avoid an even further hit to their wallets. Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles, including luxury models like the all-new 2009 Lincoln MKS, run - and run well - on regular unleaded gas, a true competitive advantage given today's skyrocketing fuel costs.

    By developing vehicles that deliver both fuel efficiency and performance using regular unleaded gasoline, customers can save as much as $200 annually at the pump filling up a Ford, Lincoln, or Mercury product rather than using expensive premium unleaded fuel as some other automakers require.

    Yet, recent figures from Kelley Blue Book show that the number of vehicles that either recommend or require premium fuel at an average of $0.20 or more per gallon has grown from 166 in 2002 to more than 280 today. Some luxury models on that list even warn owners they can seriously damage their engines if they consistently fill up with gas below 91 octane.

    No such disclaimers or fuel requirements apply to volume Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicles. Products excluding specialty performance vehicles such as the Ford Shelby GT500 can run on regular 87-octane gasoline - with great performance, said Stephen Russ, a technical leader with Ford Powertrain Operations. That includes products ranging from the 2009 Ford Mustang Bullitt to the Lincoln MKS.

    “Our vehicles, including our luxury products, will run normally on 87-octane regular fuel,” he adds. “Some customers may choose to use premium fuel to get additional horsepower, but our powertrains are designed so we don't have to require it.”

    The Lincoln MKS, equipped with the 3.7-liter V-6 and front-wheel drive, for example, delivers 275 hp and 274 lb-ft of torque on premium fuel. Fill up with regular unleaded, and the luxury sedan still delivers more than 270 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, along with maintaining 24 miles per gallon on the highway.

    Thanks to Ford's improved adaptive spark ignition system, Lincoln MKS owners that fill up with regular unleaded don't have to worry about the common engine knock and pinging often associated with using a lower-grade gas.

    This system can sense what type of fuel is being injected into the motor, and communicates the information to the powertrain control module (PCM), which adjusts the spark accordingly. “We have improved the algorithms and software so the vehicle's PCM is better able to figure out what fuel is being used and quickly adapt,” said Russ.

    In addition to software changes, the ignition system features two knock sensors rather than one to further improve performance. These two sensors detect the presence of uncontrolled burning in the chambers more accurately, so the control module can retard engine timing as needed to eliminate the potential for engine knock and pinging.

    Other vehicles that feature the improved two-sensor adaptive spark ignition system include the Mustang, equipped with the 4.6-liter V-8, Mustang Bullitt and the 2009 Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner equipped with the 3.0-liter V-6.

    Running on regular versus premium represents upwards of a $200-a-year savings in fuel costs for customers. Coupled with myriad other fuel-efficient technologies offered on Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles, such as Ford's new six-speed automatic transmissions, customers can save even more in fuel costs without having to sacrifice performance.

    For example, in addition to its six-speed transmission, the MKS features a two-speed fuel pump that alternates between two flow settings. During idle or under certain conditions such as cruising at highway speeds, the fuel pump runs on the low setting, requiring less energy to run the pump. The lower voltage results in less of a draw on the engine, improving fuel efficiency.

    MKS also features Aggressive Deceleration Fuel Shut-Off, a fuel-saving system that shuts off fuel flow to the injectors when the driver backs completely off the throttle with the vehicle in fifth or sixth gear, such as exiting onto a freeway off ramp.

  2. #2
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    Re: Ford retooling all its cars to run on regular unleaded

    This is a nice thing they do for their owners.

    However, dual knock sensors are pretty much required on engines that have two cylinder banks, such as a V configuration.

    And can even be found on some motors that have a single block casting, such as the Volkswagon VR-6 motors. (I had one sensor fail on mine, which put the car into limp-home mode)


    One of the things that Honda does is have the A/C compressor cycle on and off as needed. This not only saves gas by reducing the load on the engine, but also prevents freeze-up at the expansion valve.

    Chip H.


    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  3. #3
    MikeHalloran
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    Re: Ford retooling all its cars to run on regular unleaded

    Cycling the compressor is one of the oldest, simplest ways of modulating the a/c's refrigeration capacity, which considerably exceeds the car's steady state needs. Traditionally used with a simple orifice for expansion, and controlled by a pressure switch with controlled hysteresis.

    One other system of which I am aware uses a thermostatically controlled valve to throttle the gas flow to the compressor suction. The compressor runs continuously, but restricting the flow reduces the power demand, and the capacity. It has the virtue that you don't notice the compressor cycling, because the compressor doesn't cycle, even when the demand changes. The disadvantage is that the suction throttling valve, continuously in motion, eventually wears out and stops doing its job. Or it gets jammed by lint from the desiccant bag, also a common cause of orifice clogs.

    The cycling- compressor orifice tube system has only changed since the sixties in the sense that the car computer is in the switching loop, so the compressor can be turned off for better acceleration, and on for deceleration. This feature first appeared with a simple vacuum switch in the compressor loop, but it was noticeable because warm air would come out of the a/c on acceleration. The car computer is programmed to also reduce the a/c airflow while it turns off the compressor, so you might notice a reduction in airflow, but you won't notice a flow of _warm_ air. This modification was also noticeable until the computer got linear control of the fan speed, so it could modulate the air flow without steps, and achieve unobtrusive automatic temperature control.

    There are probably other ways to do the job, of which I am not aware, but cycling the compressor is not new.


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    Re: Ford retooling all its cars to run on regular unleaded

    I would rather have an engine that was designed to run on Premium, as it would likely develop more power and be able to take advantage of high octane gasoline. The cost difference between regular and premium today is laughable. $3.00 out of a $60.00 fill up hardly matters.

    I know. Its the stupid American public that is driving this thing. The product planners at Ford are jamming this idea down the engineers throats and the engineers are reprogramming the ECU's to retard the timing. The result will be an increase in fuel consumption. Of course, the wingnut salesman will be able to tell the buyer that the car runs on regular. Big deal.

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Ford retooling all its cars to run on regular unleaded

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
    I would rather have an engine that was designed to run on Premium, as it would likely develop more power and be able to take advantage of high octane gasoline. The cost difference between regular and premium today is laughable. $3.00 out of a $60.00 fill up hardly matters.

    I know. Its the stupid American public that is driving this thing. The product planners at Ford are jamming this idea down the engineers throats and the engineers are reprogramming the ECU's to retard the timing. The result will be an increase in fuel consumption. Of course, the wingnut salesman will be able to tell the buyer that the car runs on regular. Big deal.
    At least in my area, premium is about 20-30 cents more per gallon - so about $5-$6 extra to fill a20 gallon tank. Not a huge amount, I agree - but not trivial, either. If you fill up 4-5 times per month (typical) that would be $25-$30 extra per month; $300 or so extra per year.

    People are strapped; saving a few hundred bucks per year definitely matters ....


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    Re: Ford retooling all its cars to run on regular unleaded

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
    I would rather have an engine that was designed to run on Premium, as it would likely develop more power and be able to take advantage of high octane gasoline. The cost difference between regular and premium today is laughable. $3.00 out of a $60.00 fill up hardly matters.

    I know. Its the stupid American public that is driving this thing. The product planners at Ford are jamming this idea down the engineers throats and the engineers are reprogramming the ECU's to retard the timing. The result will be an increase in fuel consumption. Of course, the wingnut salesman will be able to tell the buyer that the car runs on regular. Big deal.
    At least in my area, premium is about 20-30 cents more per gallon - so about $5-$6 extra to fill a20 gallon tank. Not a huge amount, I agree - but not trivial, either. If you fill up 4-5 times per month (typical) that would be $25-$30 extra per month; $300 or so extra per year.

    People are strapped; saving a few hundred bucks per year definitely matters ....

    Yes, but the car will likely get poorer fuel economy, negating the savings from running on regular gas.

  7. #7
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Ford retooling all its cars to run on regular unleaded

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
    I would rather have an engine that was designed to run on Premium, as it would likely develop more power and be able to take advantage of high octane gasoline. The cost difference between regular and premium today is laughable. $3.00 out of a $60.00 fill up hardly matters.

    I know. Its the stupid American public that is driving this thing. The product planners at Ford are jamming this idea down the engineers throats and the engineers are reprogramming the ECU's to retard the timing. The result will be an increase in fuel consumption. Of course, the wingnut salesman will be able to tell the buyer that the car runs on regular. Big deal.
    At least in my area, premium is about 20-30 cents more per gallon - so about $5-$6 extra to fill a20 gallon tank. Not a huge amount, I agree - but not trivial, either. If you fill up 4-5 times per month (typical) that would be $25-$30 extra per month; $300 or so extra per year.

    People are strapped; saving a few hundred bucks per year definitely matters ....

    Yes, but the car will likely get poorer fuel economy, negating the savings from running on regular gas.
    Only if it was designed to burn premium and has been "detuned" by dialing back the ignition timing, etc.

    Otherwise, a given engine is most efficient burning the type of fuel for which it was designed. Putting premium into an engine built for regular (and regular into an engine built for premium) will not yield good results....

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