In the U.S. we’re quickly approaching the 4th of July, which conveniently falls on a Friday this year, making for a wonderful 3-day weekend. Along with millions of other Americans we’ll be celebrating Independence Day by hitting the road, driving to New York from our home base in Washington, D.C.
Because gas is now at $4.21/gallon, I’m especially eager to do whatever I can to improve my gas mileage for the drive up to New York (we’re driving instead of $1 busing because we’re taking our dog). So, I spent (way too much) time perusing my way around the internet, reading every article I could find on the subject of “hypermiling.”
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Wikipedia says:
“Hypermilers are drivers who exceed the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated fuel efficiency on their vehicles by modifying their driving habits. The term ‘hypermiler’ originated from hybrid vehicle driving clubs and Wayne Gerdes [who coined the term hypermile] in particular. As people began comparing fuel efficiency, they noticed that by using certain driving techniques, they could greatly improve their mileage. “
I read hundreds of hypermiling tips and tricks and have compiled my favorite articles. In total, there are well over 450 tips below about how to improve your car’s gas mileage and fuel efficiency. You will see that many of these tips say essentially the same thing and some hypermiling tricks definitely don’t seem safe. Ironically, some of the fuel efficiency tips contradict one another. I think my favorite tip is about wearing an “ice vest” in order to keep cool to avoid using your AC!
Since we’re not hardcore enough for ice vests at Go Green Travel Green, here are the fuel efficiency tips that we’ll actually be using when we drive to New York this weekend:
Go Green Travel Green’s Easy (and Safe) Hypermiling Tips
- Roll Up Your Windows
- Inflate Your Tires (to the proper psi according to the manual, or just slightly more; too much more and you can be asking for trouble)
- Don’t Brake If You Don’t Have To
- Leave Room in Front of Your Car (to allow for braking slowly)
- Use Cruise Control (almost all the time)
- Don’t Accelerate (too quickly)
- Multitask and Plan Your Route (make sure your route is efficient and you’re not backtracking)
- Empty the Trunk
- Drive Less
- Avoid Drive-Throughs (lots of idling in a drive-through)
- Drive Shoeless (to have a better feel of the accelerator/brakes; if your windows are up and your air conditioning is off this will also help keep you cool!)
- Use Overdrive
- Drive the Speed Limit (or even a little slower on the highway)
- Watch the Crosswalk Signs (to know if the light is going to change soon)
photo credit: Burning Image
13 Hypermiling Tips at Bargainist How to Save Gas with Hypermiling
5. Try drafting behind. When traveling on a highway or Interstate, use tractor trailers to help you along by following them from a safe distance. The truck will take the brunt of the wind force, allowing your vehicle to use less fuel.
14 Hypermiling Tips which tell you Whether or Not They’re Worth the Risk and Hassle
Some hyper-milers overinflate their tires by 15-20 pounds. I have heard that this can be dangerous (blow-outs) and lead to uneven tire wear, but some of them, “consider it safe because most of my driving is around town and under 50 miles per hour.” They say, putting less rubber on the road gives them an edge in beating the EPA’s rating by decreasing rolling resistance.
- Not worth it – but definitely inflate them to the maximum rated PSI
Pay attention to wind conditions
Certain cars will be more susceptible to this than others, but some have found that fuel mileage is significantly impacted by favorable wind conditions. “On long highway rides, having a tailwind has made a big difference in my fuel economy.” If you know it’s a windy day and you don’t have to take that trip, then don’t.”
- Not worth it – If I have to wait around for the wind, I might as well get a sailboat
Place cardboard over the radiator
One guy I read about does this and says that a cold engine reduces fuel-efficiency. He uses Office Depot’s silver-colored cardboard to warm up the engine faster. He covers his radiator with cardboard to block the wind, thus retaining heat and keeping the engine running at a warmer temperature. Knowing that this could cause his engine to overheat, he says, “I’ll take off the piece of cardboard if I know that I’ll be driving a long distance, say 100 miles, but it’s fine for my daily commute.”
- Not worth it – what if you forget about it and your engine overheats?Drive without A/C and keep windows closed
In the testing that Edmunds did, they concluded that there is, “no measureable difference,” when choosing windows or A/C. However, if you choose neither, there is quite a difference. So now you can save gas by sweating
- Maybe Worth it – if you look at it as a free sauna
Minimize brake usage
I always hate to have to come to a, “full and complete stop,” at a stop sign, but it is the law. Many hypermilers treat stop signs as though they are yield signs – and slowly glide through. They also are constantly planning and anticipating for what’s ahead; thus minimizing use of their brakes. And of course some of the down-right dangerous (dare I say irresponsible) hypermilers tailgate or take corners at speeds that aren’t truly safe, all in the hopes of never having to touch their brakes.
- Worth it in moderation – but breaking the law and putting others in danger isn’t cool
According to Wayne Gerdes, winner of the 2006 Hybridfest MPG Challenge, “Park at the highest spot in the parking lot and face out.” This technique allows you to exit by rolling forward in neutral without turning on the engine, thereby saving gas. The technique does away with the backing up and braking required by nose-in parking, while also reducing the time the engine runs.”
- Worth it
10 Hypermiling Tips at MSNBC’s Ten fuel-saving tips from a hypermiler
An interview with Wayne Gerdes, who came up with the term hypermiling:
Gerdes came up with the neologism during that extraordinary 100-plus mpg summer. “I live and die for this stuff,” says Gerdes, who works at a nuclear power plant which, he points out, provides energy without emitting carbon dioxide. He’ll go to almost any length to emit as little CO2 as possible himself and help others to do the same.
10+ Hypermiling Tips in the comments section of a Huffington Post article
Also, as long as I’m not blocking other traffic, I coast to stops, let speed degrade on hills, try to restrict acceleration to downhills.
10 Hypermiling Tips in Popular Mechanics Quick Fuel Efficiency Tips to Beat the Gas Crunch
3. Always Stay Alert on the Road
4. Drive Like You’re on a Bike
13 Hypermiling Tips at My Money Blog Hypermiling- Optimize Your Driving for Higher Fuel Economy
If you went from say a combined city/highway 22 mpg based on your previous habits to 30 mpg (a 36% increase), and you drove 12,000 miles per year with gas at $3.70/gallon, this would save you $538 over a year. Worth it? Your decision.
5+ Hypermiling Tips on CBS Video: Double Your Gas Mileage By “Hypermiling”
11 Hypermiling Tips in this “Fact or Fiction” from Chicago Tribune
FICTION: Use a do-it-yourself fuel additive
FICTION: Install a fuel-saving device Probably not. Popular Mechanics tested a variety of them, from vortex generators and water injectors to magnets, ionizers and atomizers, and not one worked. Some, the magazine warned, could actually come apart and damage the engine.
10 Hypermiling Tips in Car and Driver’s Stingiest Sippers: The 10 Most Fuel-Efficient Vehicles in the U.S.
9 Hypermiling Tips in Epistolary’s Hypermiling Advice
Empty the car of junk. Every extra pound in the trunk costs you money to haul around town for no good reason. Keep the spare tire and jack.
8 Hypermiling Tips in Wisebread’s Maximize Your Car’s Efficiency With ‘Hypermiling’
10 Hypermiling Tips in Green Upgrader’s 10 Easy Hypermile Tricks That Save You Gas
3. Idling is Negative MPG
I often thought it took more gas to start the engine than to let it idle. Baloney. Turn the car off if you will be stopped for a few minutes.
4. Make Your Ride Sleek
Take off the roof rack or bike rack; it’s costing you 5% from your MPG. If you use it on the weekend, put it on during the weekend. Check out Ecomodder.com for some more aerodynamic tricks to make your ride less of a drag.
7. Slow Down, but Not Too Slow
Driving 70mph instead of 55mph can cost 17% loss in fuel economy.
10 Hypermiling Tips in Get More Than 40 Miles Per Gallon Without a Hybrid
20+ Hypermiling Tips and loads of good anecdotes in this Mother Jones article This Guy Can Get 59 MPG in a Plain Old Accord. Beat That, Punk.
“Buckle up tight, because this is the death turn,” says Wayne. Death turn? We’re moving at 50 mph. Wayne turns off the engine. He’s bearing down on the exit, and as he turns the wheel sharply to the right, the tires squeal—which is what happens when you take a 25 mph turn going 50. Cathy, Terry’s wife, who is sitting next to me in the backseat, grabs my leg. I grab the door handle. As we come out of the 270-degree turn, Cathy says, “I hope you have upholstery cleaner.”
10+ Hypermiling Tips including “Safety First” in USA Today’s 100 mpg? For ‘hypermilers,’ that sounds about right
Turning the engine off while coasting can, in some cars, leave the driver without power steering or brakes and allow the possibility that the steering wheel will lock up. Drivers can endanger themselves and others if they go too slow for the pace of traffic.
How about that urge to “draft” trucks — follow close behind for less wind resistance — on the interstate?
“There’s another term for that. We call it tailgating,” Sundstrom deadpans.
105 Hypermiling Tips in 105 Hypermiling / Ecodriving Tips at Ecomodder
3) Attend a driving clinic
Hybrid owners groups are popping up in cities around the world – and non-hybrid owners are often welcome to attend regular meetings. Fuel efficient driving techniques are commonly discussed, and clinics are sometimes offered by experienced members.
16) Time your gas station trips
Plan to refuel your car during off-peak times to avoid lines and excessive idling.
32) Traffic light timing – ‘stale’ green
When approaching an intersection with a green light you can watch the pedestrian signal crossing light to help determine when it will turn yellow.
62) Parking tactics: gravity assist
Slopes can be useful in manoeuvering into a parking place. One which I regularly back into (it can’t be driven through) has a small slope across from it. I kill the engine approaching the slope, and engine-off coast backwards into the spot.
Gravity can be a hindrance in parking as well. Avoid driving down into a parking “hole” which you must drive out of later. Even if you EOC into the hole, you’ll face a net efficiency loss when you drive your cold vehicle up and out later.
86) Cycle the A/C if you have to use it
If you have to use the air conditioner, set the air flow to recirculate and manually turn the A/C on and off as needed. For greater efficiency, switch it on when under light engine loads or deceleration fuel cut off and off when under moderate/heavy loads. (Note: some newer vehicles do this automatically.)
88) Use a beaded seat cover
They work surprisingly well as an alternative to (or defer the use of) air conditioning, by letting air flow behind & beneath you. They keep you from sticking to your seat, and your clothes from sticking to you.
Other non-A/C options include ice vests and DIY ice water A/C units.
105) Listen to slower music
Leave the speed metal at home. Fast paced music can make a driver more impatient, more agressive and likely to speed. At the same time, slower paced music is more relaxing and tends to promote a more sensible driving style while also reducing stress.
5+ Hypermiling Tips and 1 Conclusion (Buy Diseal) in Jalopnik’s Hypermiling the 2007 Honda Civic 2.2 i-CTDi and 2007 Audi Q7 4.2 TDI
100 Hypermiling Tips in EcoTrekker’s 100 Driving and Car Tips and Resources
These articles are full of great hypermiling tips, which will teach you how to save yourself from driving to the gas station every week.
- Drive Further — on less gas!: This simple guide provides tips for everyday drivers, “even if you don’t go to the crazy lengths” of obsessed hypermilers.
- Jesus Would Drive a Stick Shift: This article details the pros and cons of driving a car with a manual transmission. Find out if it really is better for the environment.
- Save Money on Gas the Way the Pros Do: The Hybrid Car Review offers tips and links for maximizing mileage and saving money at the pump.
- Hypermiling: Quest for Ultimate Fuel Economy: This article from Edmunds.com explores creative hypermiling techniques, like babying the brakes and placing cardboard over the radiator.
- This Guy Can Get 59 MPG in a Plain Old Accord. Beat That, Punk: This article chronicles the experiences of legendary hypermiler Wayne Gerdes.
- Get 50 mpg — in your own car: It is possible to get great gas mileage in your current car. Learn how with the ideas presented in this article from MSN Money.
- “Hypermiling” the law enforcement way: Forget about life threatening hypermiling techniques. This article offers advice on safe, legal methods any driver can practice.
- How to Surge and Coast your way to better gas mileage: Find out how you can save gas money by hypermiling even if you have to drive in a major American city.
- Hypermilers: Common sense or insanity?: The Environmental Economics Blog considers whether or not hypermilers are a little too obsessed with saving gas.
- Slow and Steady: Hypermiler drivers make every drop of gas count: This article unveils the subculture of extreme hypermilers. Get tips and learn about other drivers’ experiences that could improve your car’s fuel economy.
- Hypermiling your fuel economy — The greenest extreme sport cars: Discover the newest, most extreme trends in hypermiling, racing, and driving accessories.
- Hypermiling: How I’m Fighting the Fuel War: This article explores how raising our cars’ mpg would cause us to “use that much less gas, save that much more money, be less addicted to foreign oil, and contribute to a greener planet.”
- Beating the EPA — The Whys and How to Hypermile: This article, pulled from the CleanMPG Forums, dissects traditional EPA estimates and makes a clever argument for hypermiling, based on graphs, statistics and testimonials.
- 73 mpg? Try to top that!: Follow the story of one Chicago hypermiler who aims to achieve the “best mileage ever.”
These blogs publish articles about fuel efficiency and hypermiling. Check them out for more information on increasing your vehicle’s MPG.
- Environmental Economics: Tim Haab and John Whitehead often discuss the effects that cars have on the environment.
- Foursprung: Foursprung “is the ultimate car gadgets blog,” but it sometimes includes posts about hypermiling.
- Blog It Out Your Pie Hole: This blog covers a wide range of topics, including the economy, oil and gas, and hypermiling.
- Autoblog Green: Catch up on what’s new in the world of environmentally conscious cars. Articles range from market news to upcoming events.
- Green Car: This blog covers what’s new in the hybrid car industry, new car reviews, and more.
- Green Car Advisor: The Green Car Advisor on Edmunds.com discusses “news and commentary on environmental automotive trends and technologies.” Recent articles include “White House Plans Own CAFE Plan If Congress Won’t Act” and “Fuel Economy, Greenhouse Gases Making News, But No Talk of Fuel Tax Hike.”
- Green-Car-Guide.com: Paul Clarke’s blog considers the effects of cars on our environment.
- Go Hybrid Blog: Still not convinced? Read the posts on this blog to find out why driving a hybrid car is better on your wallet and the environment.
- Bike Commute Tips Blog: If you can, leave your car at home and get around town on a bike. This blog shares tips on how to do it safely and quickly.
- Save Gas: This blog features stories about car news and shares tips for increasing gas mileage.
- Energy Conservation Awareness Blog: If you’re a hypermiler because you’re concerned about the environment, check out this blog to find more great tips for preserving our planet.
- Save Gas MPG Blog: Join others in the discussion about gas prices, mpg, and other hypermiling topics.
- Daily Fuel Economy Tip: Recent articles include: “The Top 10 Ways to Reduce Your Gasoline Consumption” and “What’s Going to Replace Gasoline?”
- Live Green Blog: Access great tips for living a green lifestyle; including hypermiling and remaining conscious of your car’s fuel efficiency.
50+ Hypermiling Tips at the CleanMPG Forum Beating the EPA – The Why’s and how to Hypermile
1 Hypermiling Tip: Buy a ScanGauge to monitor MPGs and Fuel Consumption
1 Hypermiling Tip about Traffic Waves” in Traffic “Experiments” and a Cure for Waves and Jams
It was dusk, the headlights were on, and I was going down a long hill to the bridges. I had a view of miles of highway behind me. In the neighboring lane I could see maybe five of the traffic stop-waves. But in the lane behind me, for miles, TOTALLY UNIFORM DISTRIBUTION. I hadn’t realized it, but by driving at the average speed of the traffic around me, my car had been “eating” the traffic waves. Everyone ahead of me was caught in the stop/go cycle, while everyone behind me was forced to go at a nice smooth 35MPH or so. My single tiny car had erased miles and miles of stop-and-go traffic. Just one single “lubricant atom” had a profound effect on the turbulent particle flow within the entire miles of “tube.”
Some people hypermile to save money. Others do it to nurture their competitive spirits. We do it to reduce our carbon footprint. Whatever your reason for hypermiling, please don’t be stupid. Tailing a truck on the highway or intentionally over-inflating your tires can be deadly. Follow our top (safe) tips and happy hypermiling!