Hypermiling refers to a collection of driving techniques aimed at improving your car’s fuel efficiency by reducing the demands placed on the engine, ultimately increasing your gas mileage. Since it’s possible to improve fuel economy by 37% just by changing the way you drive hypermiling is gaining interest in light of high fuel costs. While some hypermiling methods are controversial and potentially dangerous, this article will focus on safer techniques that can still save you gas and money.
1. Drive as if you don’t have brakes - Stopping and starting destroys fuel economy. Increase the amount of distance between you and other vehicles; don’t race to red lights or traffic obstructions. Coast instead. On newer cars (Manual Transmission) if the car is in gear and your foot is off the accelerator, the injectors shut off completely, creating FREE mileage at the cost of some minor engine braking. Engaging the clutch and/or putting the car in neutral causes the car to idle, using up gas as opposed to using none ultimately decreasing you fuel economy.
2. Be gentle with the accelerator - When you slam down on the gas pedal, it pushes more fuel into the engine, making it run faster (and lowering the fuel economy and increasing your output of pollutants). Push the pedal down slowly, and lift it up as soon as you know you’re going to need to stop so that you can coast the rest of the way. You should never need to push down the pedal by more than an inch (2.5cm). Some cars are even being designed with pedals that “push back” when you’re accelerating too aggressively!
3. Avoid idling - Turning off the engine when you stop for more than one minute can improve fuel efficiency by 19%. In cold weather, letting your car idle to warm up reduces fuel economy and creates additional pollution; all you need to do is drive gently for 5-10 minutes, and if you’re following the previous two steps, you’re going to be driving gently all the way anyway.
4. Go slower up hills, and faster downhill - Going uphill slower allows you to use your momentum to help keep your car from using extra gas to get up the hill. If you plan for a hill by going faster you’ll get further up the hill before you need to use extra gas. While going downhill you can go faster using less gas, as such don’t lay off the pedal completely; use it until you’re going a little faster than normal. If you combine the two in areas with small hills you’ll see much higher gas mileage.
6. Minimize the engine load - Generally, it’s better for your fuel economy if you maintain a steady speed, which is why using cruise control and driving at or below the speed limit is an important part of hypermiling to increase your gas mileage. If you’re driving on a hill or any kind of varied terrain, however, you need to consider how much work the engine is doing. Sometimes, a steady speed means unsteady strain on your engine, which lowers fuel economy. Let’s say you’re approaching a hill. When you go up the hill, you should slow down, or else your engine will have to do extra work to maintain your previous speed. Practice with caution.
7. Park for ease of departure - Instead of searching for the perfect spot close to an entrance (which will involve stop and go driving, especially with pedestrians involved and other drivers pulling in or out of their spots) pull into a spot that’s further away from the entrance. Look for the parking spot with the highest elevation and park face-out so that when you start the car and the engine is cold (at the lowest efficiency) you can use gravity in your favor without having to spin your car around.
8. Check tires pressure regularly - If the tires are incorrectly inflated, then there will be excess drag, or not enough surface contact with the road. The car therefore suffers a drop in efficiency and will increase your gas mileage!
9. Reduce the junk in the trunk - The more weight you’re carrying, the more the engine and drive train have to work. Removing all of that unused junk in the trunk increases efficiency.
Happy Driving, Increased Gas Mileage & Savings!