This article on Hypermiling is sponsored by uShip, a global leader in shipping vehicles at the best value and efficiency for you.
Since the year 2000, when fuel prices began to increase significantly, “hypermiling” has become a popular means of increasing fuel mileage for many drivers. In a nutshell, hypermiling refers to several driving techniques that will allow you to get the highest mileage possible out of your vehicle, no matter what type of vehicle you own.
This sounds great and, in fact, it is for the most part. But some of these practices are illegal in some jurisdictions because they are unsafe—tailgating large vehicles, for example. Before we begin our discussion of hypermiling, keep this in mind: It’s worth changing your driving habits in an effort to increase your vehicle’s fuel mileage, but it’s never worth it to put yourself or other people on the road in danger. You can use a few simple techniques like those we’ll cover in this article—and you might even become an avid hypermiler if you want to go above and beyond these basic techniques—but remember to find out about legal restrictions in your area beforehand, and always keep your safety and the safety of other drivers as your top priority.
Having said all that, let’s talk about a few changes you can make in your driving habits that will result in increased fuel mileage:
- Accelerate smoothly and stop slowly. “Peeling out” when the light turns green and slamming on the brake at a stop sign is not only dangerous, it wastes fuel. Generally speaking, the best way to get high fuel mileage is to reduce the number of quick stops and accelerations and to increase the amount of cruising time. Anticipate what’s coming. If you see a red light in the distance but know that it will change to green soon, slow down far in advance of the intersection to allow the light time to change before you get there. And remember that if you drive too fast, you’ll end up braking more frequently and more rapidly, which leads us to the next point.
- Maintain efficient speeds. “Efficient” will vary depending on the type of vehicle you drive. Generally speaking, driving at an efficient speed means cruising at minimal throttle, without stopping, with your transmission in high gear. The exact speed will vary with each vehicle, but usually it’s a little above 35 mph. If possible, avoid rush-hour, stop-and-go traffic situations. Find alternative routes that will allow you to cruise at a more efficient speed. And don’t be a speed demon. Think of it this way: the harder you press the gas pedal, the more gas you’re using.
- Coast whenever possible. Coasting involves allowing the vehicle to move along smoothly without stepping on the gas and with the car still in gear. (Don’t coast in neutral—you won’t be able to put the car in gear quickly enough to react to a traffic situation if you need to.) Say you’re approaching a hill, traveling at an efficient speed. Make the most out of the gravity involved in going down the other side of the hill by slowing down and taking your foot off the gas just before you reach the crest of the hill, then coast (WITH the car in gear) down the other side.
- Use cruise control. Although it’s not always practical in heavy traffic, it’s a great way to save on fuel when you’re on the open road. It’s also an easy way to regulate your speed (remember, the harder you press on the gas pedal, the more fuel you’ll use per mile).
- Unweight your vehicle. This may sound obvious, but it’s true: The more your car weighs, the more energy it takes (and fuel) to get it to move forward. Remove all unnecessary items from the trunk and backseat. Store only what you absolutely need.
- Maintain your vehicle. Have your oil changed on a regular basis. Check your tire pressure frequently, and make sure your tires are balanced. A well-maintained vehicle will always have better fuel mileage than one that’s poorly maintained.
When you think about it, hypermiling is really just common-sense driving. It’s driving in a safe, efficient manner. And once you get into it, you might really start to enjoy it and think of it as a little bit of a challenge and, ultimately, a rewarding way to drive. Remember the last time somebody tailgated you, then sped up to pass you only to be stopped by a red light at the next corner? As a hypermiler, imagine how good it will feel to coast up to that driver in the next lane at the same red light a minute or so later, knowing all along that he’ll be making many more trips to the gas station than you will.
[Eco Pro photo from our 2013 BMW 335i first drive review]
Adam Brandon is a blogger for Leonard’s Garage & Service Center, located in Austin, Texas, specializing in auto repair and motorcycle repair. RawAutos appreciates his helpful hypermiling tips and tricks.