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Issues: Gas gauge stuck; Inaccurate mpg; Inaccurate "miles remaining until empty"

Discussion in '2001-2005 Explorer Sport Trac' started by kls490, June 5, 2017.

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    1. kls490

      kls490 New Member

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      City, State:
      Williamsburg, Virginia
      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      2002 Explorer Eddie Bauer
      Good afternoon everyone,

      I should first mention that I'm an elderly, largely-housebound, disabled 'Nam' vet, and have no real 'technical-understanding' of mechanical things like most other forum members here do. Short-term memory gets worse by the day now as well, unfortunately. Please...bear with me while I try to explain things as best I can.

      I have a little odd set of concurrent issues that seem to have begun about 10 days ago after the last gas fill-up (regular unleaded @ the same 7-11 store I always buy gas at once a month). After the fill-up, the gas gauge needle went up to FULL as expected. The Message Center on the right side of the dashboard displayed it was 'computing gas mileage' (or something like that).

      Once finished, it said I had 290 miles remaining until reaching 'empty'. I checked the MPG reading (by pressing that [INFO] button on the dash about 2 or 3 times to where it shows this information). It said the MPG was 13.8.
      (FWIW, the 'trip' odometer and 'total mileage' odometer are functioning normally & there are no warning lights seen on the dash either).

      [ISSUE # 1]

      The gas gauge pointer on the left side of the dashboard remains at full, despite having driven just over 90 miles since the fill-up. (What driving I can do, is typically about 70% - around town / 30% - interstate).

      [ISSUE # 2]

      The "Message Center" on the right side of the dash does not display the usual "computing mileage" message like it typically does any time I start the Explorer up to go somewhere, or after a gas fill-up. It just shows the remaining miles until 'empty'. (Normally, It will take 5 minutes or so before it actually displays how many miles I have left before reaching 'empty').

      However, since the fill-up mentioned in the 2nd paragraph when it said I had 290 miles left until 'empty', the miles remaining has (as expected) continued to decrease, and now shows I have something like 208 miles remaining. (This is after having driven about 40 miles round-trip this morning on the interstate to another town & the remaining miles were in-town).

      After arriving at my destination, I checked the MPG (by pressing that [INFO] button 2 - 3 times like I did before), it showed 25.1. Upon returning home, the MPG reading was 21.3. (This Explorer has NEVER shown a reading THAT good. The BEST reading I've ever seen has been 17.8 MPG). I strongly-suspect the MPG reading is inaccurate.

      My questions for the community:

      1. What could be the most-likely cause for the issues described?

      2. Would a computer diagnostic be effective in determining what the problem is?

      Thank you for your time and any enlightenment! :wave:
       
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    3. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      Firstly, thank you for your service.

      I don't own anything newer than a 2001, however the fuel gauge not going down from FULL is most likely due to a stuck/broken fuel level sending unit, which is typically part of the fuel pump assembly inside the fuel tank. To replace the fuel pump assembly requires the tank to be dropped. Not a huge job, but perhaps beyond your capabilities. The information on the remaining fuel level is probably used by the ECU in conjunction with fuel consumption as measured by the ECU as it modulates the fuel injectors. It seems reasonable to assume that if the ECU believes the fuel level in the tank is not going down the ECU's ability to give accurate fuel consumption would be effected.

      If it were me, I would check to make sure the wiring going to the fuel pump assembly is intact (no reason to assume it isn't) and then replace the assembly w/pump with a new one. Odds are pretty good that will solve all your issues.

      BTW: You posted your questions in the Sport Trac sub-forum, but your info suggests you have a 2002 Eddie Bauer 4-door Explorer. The solution would be the same regardless, though some here have hacked a hole in the floor under the rear seat to gain access to the fuel pump assembly (which frankly seems like more work than dropping the tank to me).
       
      Last edited: June 6, 2017
    4. kls490

      kls490 New Member

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      Hi koda2000,

      Thank you very much for getting back with me and the "military service thank you" notation!

      Although, as I'd mentioned...I'm not really 'technically-knowledgeable' when it comes to the "workings", so-to-speak, of this Explorer, the info you provided certainly gives me a starting point as to where to begin.

      I did notice this morning when I went to the grocery store, that the Message Center was now showing 289 miles until 'empty', instead of the 206 miles reading I reported in my initial post it displayed after returning home. (Gas gauge still stuck at FULL though).

      Given what you said, it sounds like there's a good probability the repair shop folks will need to drop the fuel tank to replace the fuel pump assembly, etc. Since I've never encountered this type problem/repair before, I'm guessing the costs involved would likely run in the $600.00 - 900.00 range. (I'll have to 'save-up' for this one).

      ** BTW, which Forum here would be the most appropriate to post in for any future inquiries (about this 2002 Explorer Eddie Bauer Series I have)?


      Again...my thanks for posting back with the information you provided - - I really appreciate it!

      Cheers! :thumbsup:
       
      Last edited: June 6, 2017
    5. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      Unfortunately you are probably correct in that a shop's price for this repair will probably be in the $600-$900 range.
       
    6. kls490

      kls490 New Member

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      Much obliged for the follow-up info on the approximate costs involved too, koda2000!
       
    7. sr139fox

      sr139fox Active Member

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      I would go old school and manual check my mileage just to verify the computer was inaccurate. Then trouble shoot from what the findings are. Dave p.
       
    8. kls490

      kls490 New Member

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      I appreciate the suggestion, Dave!

      May give that a try as well, to see what I come up with.

      [UPDATE: 07/03/2017]: The problem has apparently resolved itself without my having done anything. Can't explain it...just glad it's back to normal again. I did check the gas mileage, the 'manual way' and the results I get are nearly identical to what the Message Center is displaying.

      Cheers!
       
      Last edited: July 3, 2017
    9. petegraz

      petegraz New Member

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      City, State:
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      I've been having similar issues with my 2005 Sport Trac. The fuel gauge is all over the place no matter how much gas I have in the tank. Pulled the tank and tried a new fuel pump/sending unit. Same problem. I've been looking for other things that might be the culprit and saw that a grounding issue or instrument panel could be the issue. Any ideas or tests that I could do. Appreciate the help.
       

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