Hypermiling and the art of increasing gas mileage

Hypermiling and how to increase your gas mileage

 

Hypermiling is quite simply the process of driving as efficiently as possible. It is about getting the maximum miles out of a tank of gas.

Before I get into the detail about how to save money by modifying the way you drive, I should note two important matters at the outset. The first is that the best way of using less gas is to drive your car less. Living close to work, riding your bike or using public transport are the best ways of lowering your gas bill.

The second is that the type of car you drive will largely determine how far you can go on a tank of gas. This does not mean that it is frugal to go out and buy an expensive new car because it’s more economical than your current car. Rarely will that be a good move.

It also means that the tips below are more important if you drive a gas-guzzler, not less. If you drive a gas inefficient car, then you stand to gain more by driving sensibly, but at some point you’ll be limited by your car, not the way you drive.

Some people suggest pretty crazy ideas in the search for miles per gallon, like tailgating and other dangerous ideas. It should be pretty obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: Staying safe is the most frugal way to drive, even if it costs a bit more in the short term. Avoiding hospitalization or long term injury is frugal. Getting home safely is more important than miles per gallon, so if you’re looking for ‘extreme hypermiling’ look somewhere else.

The best hypermiling techniques

I’ve done a fair bit of research into this, and hopefully I’ll save you scouting around a number of other sources – here are the best tips to increase your miles per gallon:

Invest in a fuel economy gauge

Normally I wouldn’t advocate buying a gadget to save money, but a fuel usage monitor is a good exception. They help you work out what is the most efficient highway cruising speed for your car, and it also provides feedback in real-time so you can drive as efficiently as possible.

Personally, I like ScanGauge monitors because they are relatively cheap and really well reviewed. If you follow the above link, you’ll see that this particular model has over 500 reviews at an average of 4.5 stars.

This one will work on almost all cars made after 1996, and will give you a ton of stats and averages that will help you tailor your driving to make sure it’s as efficient as possible. If you only follow this tip, you’ll probably accidentally discover the rest, just by trial and error.

Coast rather than using your brakes

If you have your foot on the accelerator right up until you have to brake to go around a corner, you are wasting precious momentum that you built up whilst accelerating. It is much more efficient to get off the gas far enough before a corner so you don’t have to brake. The more time you spend with your foot off the accelerator the better. This is one of the best hypermiling tips that you can employ.

The ultimate example is people who speed up very quickly between lights, even if they know it’s a red light coming up. Let the car coast as much as possible. It’s also good for saving your brake pads from unnecessary wear. Don’t take it to the extreme obviously, brake if you need to stay safe!

Remove unnecessary weight

The more weight you carry, the more gas you’re having to burn to travel the same distance. Remove any unnecessary weight in your car – if you’re storing something in your boot because you’re too lazy to take it out, do it now!

Remove roof racks

They ruin the aerodynamic performance of your car and cause a lot of drag.

Use kinetic energy to your advantage

This is similar to the hypermiling tip about coasting – where possible, try to maintain your momentum while driving. If you are driving over rolling hills, speed up slightly on the way down the hill to make use of the natural ‘free’ speed, and slow down as you near the peak of the hill.

Make sure tires are inflated

This can make a considerable difference to your rolling resistance. Make sure they are inflated to the factory recommendations at all times. It will also improve the life-span of your tires as well.

Use cruise control

Generally your car will be better then you are at regulating your speed. This will stop you creeping up in speed without realising it. Once you work out the optimum speed for cruising, set your car to that speed to make sure you sit at the best speed for as long as possible without deviation.

Roll up your windows

This reduces your drag and will help with your aerodynamic and hypermiling performance.

Optimize your route

Planning ahead can help you avoid unnecessary city driving, and to make sure you take the shortest route possible. Avoid idling at all costs, it’s a killer when it comes to fuel economy.

Turn off car if stationary for more than 30 seconds

Provided you have a very reliable car, it’s normally more efficient to turn your car off if you are going to be idling for more than 30 seconds.

Turn off AC

Some cars lose up to 10% efficiency by using air conditioning. If it’s not too hot, make sure it’s off, and just use your cars fans. Some people who live for hypermiling take things to an extreme use just the fans and carry a spray bottle of water to spray their face to keep cool. Personally, I just reduce my use of AC as much as possible.

Accelerate slowly

There is no need to speed up quickly, all it does it burn fuel unnecessarily. A decent guide is to try to only use the first inch of your accelerator where possible.

Think I’ve missed something? Let me know in the comments below. What are some of your hypermiling tips?

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Comments

Hypermiling and the art of increasing gas mileage — 1 Comment

  1. A comment on cruise control:

    With the cruise control on, your cars absolute first priority is to maintain speed above all other things. This means that it will rev the engine more than necessary on even the smallest of hills, and (on newer cars especially) possibly use the brakes going downhill, ruining the kinetic energy that going down hill with generate.

    When traveling 300 miles to my favorite recreational area, my car averages 37 MPG with cruise control off, and 31 with cruise control on. It is a 2013, and the 31 MPG is with me making sure to turn off cruise control on the big hills.

    This is just my personal experience, and cruise control will undoubtedly help maintain your optimal cruising speeds on very flat parts of your drive, so don’t forget to take advantage of it! Just make sure to use it sparingly.

    I just discovered this blog today and can’t wait to read more of it!

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