Some of you may already know what this is, but I hadn’t heard about it until a couple of years ago. There are a few different definitions out there, but Google’s got the one that I think is the most succinct:
The practice of making adjustments to a vehicle or using driving techniques that will maximize the vehicle’s fuel economy.
This hits on the two main facets of hypermiling: altering the vehicle for better fuel economy, and altering your driving style to achieve the same effect. In this article, we will discuss the latter. I’ll probably make a “Hypermiling 102” for the vehicular alteration portion, as I imagine it’s much more in-depth.
This is Volkswagen’s XL1. It gets 260 mpg. No, YOU shut up.
So basically, this is kind of like the blind spot thing: we drive day-in and day-out without realizing there’s a different way to do it. As with many things in life, there’s no “one size fits all” hypermiling handbook – it varies from person to person, and from vehicle to vehicle.
Here’s pretty much everything I could find. I would suggest picking your favorites, or the ones that seem most easy to form a habit around, and get used to making those small changes first. Then incorporate some more, seeing how they work with you and your vehicle. Some of them may not work, or may seem like more trouble than they’re worth, but at the end of the day, an attitude of driving to save gas is the first step in getting more bang for your buck.
EASY ON THE PEDALS.
It doesn’t matter how quickly your car can go from zero to sixty. The more you ease into acceleration, the better fuel economy you get (as much as 33% at highway speeds and 5% around town).
AVOID UNNECESSARY IDLING.
With modern fuel-injection engines, idling for seven seconds takes up as much gas as starting it up cold. Thus, most hypermilers completely turn off their vehicles at red lights. It may not seem like much savings, but it adds up over time.
PULSE AND GLIDE.
This works best in hybrid cars, but you can do it in lighter vehicles. We are trained to think “to go forward, hit the gas,” therefore 100% of the time we spend moving forward, we also spend compressing the gas pedal. The idea here is that you accelerate to 5-10 mph over your desired speed, and then coast until it drops to around 5 under, then repeat. This reduces the percentage of drive time that you spend actually pressing down on the pedal, thus reducing the amount of gas your vehicle draws from its tank.
This is going to be the hardest one for most people, I imagine. The EPA shows that traveling at speeds in excess of 60 mph increases aerodynamic drag (wind resistance) and mechanical friction, which reduces fuel economy. A lot.
SHORT TRIPS IN COLD WEATHER.
Your engine takes a while to heat up and reach peak performance levels, where you can really milk it for fuel efficiency. In cold weather, it obviously takes longer to do this. If you take several short trips in cold weather, your engine will always be working harder just to get warmed up. And letting your car idle to warm up does not help your fuel economy–it actually uses more fuel. So if you have several short trips to make in cold weather, start with your farthest destination, and make the other stops on your way back home. That way the engine will take less time to warm up with each stop.
PARK FAR AWAY.
This one’s a no-brainer. Getting as close as you can to the “front and center” spot in a parking lot involves a lot of stop-and-go situations (especially in crowded lots), as well as putting you further from the road (usually). If you park far away, you cover less ground overall, reducing your mileage.
LIGHTEN THE LOAD.
Another no-brainer. The heavier the vehicle, the more gas the engine needs to haul it around. This means don’t always have your bike on the bike rack on the back. Don’t carry your canoe everywhere. Be wary of carting herds of passengers around town. Y’know that box of junk sitting in your trunk? Yeah, take it out.
TURN OFF THE A/C.
I know there are some places where A/C is non-negotiable. I live in one of them. But just know that operating the air conditioner on its maximum setting can reduce MPG by roughly 5-30% compared to not using it. If you’re really serious about saving gas, get a battery-powered fan and keep ice packs in a cooler.
gravity is your friend.
If you’re driving on hilly or mountainous terrain, you’re going to expend more gas going uphill than normal. Balance this out by taking your foot off the pedal while going downhill. Some people say to zoom downhill to use your inertia to make going uphill easier on the engine. Try out both and see which works better for your vehicle.
DISABLE CERTAIN DRIVING FEATURES.
I’m talking mainly about 4-wheel drive and cruise control. Engaging four wheels instead of two makes the engine work twice as hard, while cruise control basically doesn’t do any of the things listed above, so it’s kind of (read: definitely) counterproductive.
MAINTAIN YOUR VEHICLE.
It will just run better if you get your regularly scheduled oil changes, use fuel injector cleaners, and just generally keep up with the maintenance on your car. My mechanic sister-in-law says “everyone wants a go-kart,” and it’s kind of true – keep up with maintaining your vehicle and you will be rewarded with the highest performance possible (without modding it).
DON’T USE YOUR CAR!
This one actually came from hypermiler.co.uk. The best way to save your gas is to avoid using it. Invest in a bike, or even a scooter for local errands and trips around town.
So there you have it. Most of those came straight from the mouth of Wayne Gerdes over at CleanMPG.com. Y’know, the dude who invented hypermiling. Like I said, you can actually modify your car for more aerodynamic efficiency and engine performance, but those hacks are much, much more in-depth and risky, so they will have to get their own article if there’s a demand for it.
In the meantime, happy trails, NeverNoobs.
If you are driving at a speed of anywhere from 0 to 40 MPH, it is generally recommended you do not use your air conditioner. Instead, put your windows down. The drag on the car will be negligible, and you’ll be able to keep cool. Using the air conditioner unnecessarily will use gas.
If you are driving at speeds greater than 40 MPH, it is more fuel efficient to roll up the windows and turn on the air conditioning. The rolled-down windows create a drag on the car and create a situation similar to driving into a head-wind. This will cause the car to use more gas than is used when you roll the windows up and keep cool with the air conditioner.
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