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Hypermiling: tips to boost your miles per gallon (mpg)

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August 20, 2013 · 983 Views


Four-dollar-a-gallon gas seems here to stay and five dollars may not be too far off. It is definitely time to start thinking about efficiency and your miles per gallon (MPG) for the sake of both your pocket book and for the environment. Oil prices are once again on the rise (this time because of mid-east unrest) and there is potential for prices to continue climbing. This means that drivers who rarely spent more than $35 to fill up their tanks in the past are suddenly watching the dial on the gas pump continue past $40 in many parts of the country. While drivers have little control over the price of oil or gasoline, they do have a great deal of control over how many miles per gallon they can squeeze out of their car.

What is Hypermiling?

Hypermiling is a collection of techniques made famous by Wayne Gerdes, founder of the movement and developer of the techniques. These techniques help drivers exceed, or even far exceed, the MPG ratings that the manufacturer claims on their vehicle. So, for example, if your family car is rated for, say, 19 MPG on the highway, these hypermiling techniques could boost that figure to 30 MPG or even higher. It seems like a great way to get substantially more mileage out of a tank of gas with little effort and no additional cost.

Most of the techniques are easy to do and seem like common sense. Other techniques border on dangerous and are only practiced by the more adventurous hypermilers. Indeed, police authorities in some areas are becoming aware of some of the more extreme techniques (shutting of the engine when going downhill, for example) and informing drivers that these practices are illegal and dangerous.

Hypermiling Techniques to Boost MPG:

  • Drive the speed limit. This alone will increase fuel economy for all drivers. Once a typical passenger car exceeds 65mph, half of the fuel expended is used to fight wind resistance
  • Brake less. Avoid use of your breaks except when necessary – don’t ride your brakes. This is just common sense, anytime you apply your brakes, you are reducing your car’s momentum and canceling some of the energy your you’ve already expended to get the car moving. Some hypermilers take this to an extreme and coast through stop signs and even traffic signals to avoid coming to a complete stop. This is illegal and dangerous and not recommended by the groups that promote hypermiling.
  • Check Tire pressure. Low tire pressure, while great for traction, is lousy for maximizing your MPG. If your tires are rated for 44psi (pounds per square inch) than you should maintain that pressure. Some hypermilers even suggest one or two psi higher than the suggested pressure.
  • Plan your route. Are you taking the optimal route to get to your destination? This is not necessarily the shortest. You MPG is affected by stop-and-go traffic and the need to constantly accelerate and decelerate. A good route will be a balance of distance and traffic flow.
  • Accelerate gently. A car’s engine will use less fuel during a more gentle acceleration than when sharply accelerated. There are times when safety calls for rapid acceleration: swerving to avoid an accident or merging into the flow of traffic. Most of the time a slower and surer acceleration works fine and will boost your car’s MPG.

Some hypermilers do employ extreme techniques such as shutting off their engines to coast downhill or while at a traffic light or driving very closely behind a big truck to draft in the truck’s wake. These techniques are very dangerous and are not recommended. Most steering wheels lock when the engine is turned off. In addition, with the engine off, power steering and power braking are generally not available. These techniques are dangerous and are not necessary for you to boost your MPG.

Hypermiling techniques are at least a partial solution to the incredible increase in the cost of fuel. These techniques are behaviors that most drivers can learn and get accustomed to very quickly. As the price of fuel inexorably climbs and climbs, more drivers will likely begin to turn to the hypermiling style of driving to keep a little more of their hard-earned money for themselves. Try it now let us know how much money you’re saving!

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