Hypermiling to Save Gas and Reduce Expenses

by Tyler on Feb 3, 2012

Here lately I’ve been obsessed with lowering my gas costs. That obsession has taken the form of honing my skills in hypermiling, and generally becoming more aware of how I drive.

If you aren’t familiar with the term hypermiling, I’ll provide a very basic definition. Hypermiling is essentially a collection of driving techniques used to squeeze every last drop of miles per gallon out of your current vehicle.

Hypermiling can be dangerous when taken to the extreme. Some people tailgate too closely in an effort to improve aerodynamics.

You often see this with a car following dangerously close behind a large 18-wheeler.

The idea is a 18-wheeler pushed the air in front of it and around the side and end, and you get swept up in its wake enjoying reduced wind resistance. My take:  too risky.

Not all hypermiling techniques involve taking huge risks. In fact, some practices will actually improve safety. Here are a few examples:

Do not take off when the light turn green, and try not to slam on the brakes if you see a red light in front of you.

Basically, try to smooth out your driving habits. Slow, methodical starts, and long, smooth braking. When I see a red light far off in the distance, I’ve adopted the habit of taking my foot off the gas and coasting, then applying gentle braking if I need to come to a full stop. Chances are the light turns green before I have to idle.

Thou shall not idle. It used to be said that you shouldn’t turn a car off and back on because it used just as much gas to idle as it did to restart your car.

Not so these days. If you find yourself having to idle for longer than a typical red light takes to turn green, shut the car off.

Avoid going over 60-65mph. There are some places in the country where going 65 will get you run over!

However, if you increase your speend dramatically from 60mph you typically see reduced fuel efficiency.

Take down unused cargo foof racks and store in garage. Unless you are planning to frequently strap things to the top of your car, it probably makes sense to store these racks when not in use.

They decrease significantly your car’s aerodynamics by increasing drag and decreasing fuel efficiency.

Coordinate errands so you reduce the number of outings. Try to limit the number of trips you have to make by consolidating errands.

Plan ahead to shop for groceries, pick up prescriptions and dry cleaning in one trip rather than making three.

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