Maximize Your Car's Efficiency With 'Hypermiling'
By now you have probably heard of hypermiling and the 50-90 mpg exploits of Wayne Gerdes . If you haven't, hypermiling is a set of techniques and practices that seek to maximize a vehicle's fuel efficiency through careful and calculated driving.
What this means to the average motorist is that you must alternate between driving like my grandmother and bracing against the g-forces as you take turns and exit ramps at 50 miles per hour. Of course, this is the extreme example of what hypermiling is and can achieve. The truth of the matter is that a few simple practices can dramatically improve your car's efficiency.
Here are a few things we all could learn from hypermiling:
Keep a record of your gas millage. By using your odometer to track miles per tank, you can develop a sense of your car's consumption over time and adjust accordingly.
Take note of your own driving habits. The fundamental principle of hypermiling is to use all of your car's energy to generate forward momentum. By leaving ample space between yourself and the car in front of you, there is enough time to coast to a stop and avoid stepping on the brakes.
Avoid standing still with the engine running. Traffic lights are the biggest cause of this. If you see a red light in front of you, take your foot off the gas and let your car coast up to it. Sitting in traffic should also be avoided. Though a very advanced technique, hypermilers practice riding the "waves and jams" caused by congestion to minimize time accelerating, decelerating, and sitting stopped.
Accelerate gradually, over a greater distance. The longer your take to achieve a speed, the less fuel it will require to get there. In many cars, using cruise control to slowly approach the desired speed will help regulate accelerations.
If you have tried these basics you may be ready to take a shot at the big efficiency numbers. For this, you will need more advanced hypermiling techniques which, while controversial , may help eek a few more miles out of every gallon. These include:
- Over inflating your tires, which reduces the amount of rubber on the road, and thus, reduces the resistance on you car. However, because it can also lead to a loss of control, uneven tire wear, and blowouts, it is not for the hypermiling neophyte.
- Riding the white line keeps your car out of puddles and grooves in the road made by other drivers, both of which increase drag and decrease efficiency.
- Rolling up the windows and turning off the air conditioning maximizes your car's wind resistance. A bottle of ice water on a hot day can make this more manageable.
- Finally, by keeping up with regular maintenance and stripping your car of unnecessary weight, like roof racks and miscellaneous odds and ends collected in the trunk, you can help keep your car at its engineered efficiency years after it has left the factory.
Hypermiling may not be for everyone, but if you are planning a road trip or have a long daily commute these techniques can drastically improve your cars efficiency. Besides that, they add a fun new challenge to driving that can save you money.
For more information on hypermiling, its history, and even more advanced techniques, check out the sites below: