cheap gas / fuel shortage / hypermiling / Life / price of gas / road rage / road trip / saving gas / saving money

Hypermiling or “How to Save Gas by Changing Your Driving Habits”

I saw a news bit last week on hypermiling and got to thinking. Is it possible to save money/gas by using these techniques? A lot of people that are hypermiling are driving hybrid vehicles, but a lot are driving old fashioned gas guzzlers, too. Hypermilers are drivers that exceed EPA estimated fuel efficiency on their vehicles by modifying their driving habits. There are hypermiler forums and groups all over the U.S.

Here are the basics, which appear to be no-brainers after you think about it.

Maintain your vehicle. Tire pressure, balance and wheel alignment are key factors. Keep the tires inflated to the maximum recommended air pressure as noted on the tire. Under-inflated tires cause lower fuel efficiency. Keep your engine tuned. (I am already doing this.)

Empty out the junk in your car. All of that extra weight (dog food, case of water, laundry detergent, bag of books for donation, etc.) makes your vehicle heavier and heavier means lower gas mileage. (Another good reason to go on a diet. I confess, the back of the SUV has a bunch of junk that needs to be removed.)

Use the cruise control when possible. Cruising maintains your speed which means better mileage. (Kind of hard to do in rush hour traffic, but on long trips, I use the cruise all the time.)

Braking – Not so much. Anticipate what is happening in front of you, slow down on the way to that red light without braking until necessary. Gentle acceleration and deceleration — avoid unnecessary acceleration. (Has this ever happened to you? You are cruising along and someone gets right on your bumper, they swing around and pass you zooming toward a red light. You are maintaining a solid speed, see the red light ahead, lift off the accelerator, coast up to the light just as it changes to green and pass by the doofus that just wasted money by zooming and then by idling at the light?)

NASCAR-style drafting (also known as tailgating). This is one of the hypermiler’s habits that I do not agree with. Its just too damned dangerous and I do not want to cause road rage. Period. I prefer the concept that people who do not leave a lot of space between their car and the car/truck/vehicle in front of them use their brakes more often. Braking causes friction and heat and slows down your car. (Not going to try the drafting idea. Nope.)

Avoid sitting in traffic. You are wasting gasoline by sitting and idling. And, if there were no traffic jams, we’d be tooling along in our cars smoothly which would result in less starts and stops which means better gas mileage. You are getting 0 (zero) miles per gallon when you are sitting at a light. (Easier said than done, but I’m going to make a real effort to do this whenever possible.)

Know your gas mileage. How can you tell if you’re actually saving gas and getting better mileage if you don’t know what your old habits cost you, and what your new habits can bring you. There are a bunch of gas mileage calculators on the net or you can do it the old fashioned way:

(1) Fill your vehicle’s gas tank completely and write down the vehicle’s odomoter reading.
(2) Refill your vehicle’s gas tank completely when it is time to refuel. Use the same grade of gasoline that you used when you filled it up the first time. Write down the number of gallons that you put in the tank to fill it up. Write down the vehicle’s new odometer reading.
(3) Subtract the first odometer reading from the second one.
(4) Divide this number (miles driven) by the number of gallons you put in the vehicle to fill the tank.
(5) This number is your MPG or Miles Per Gallon for this specific time-frame. It may vary if this is all city driving vs. your trip to the mountains or all highway driving.

I am an expert at nothing, but I am determined to try and save some money on gas consumption. I drive approximately 50 miles round trip each day to work, and can double that on a Saturday with yard sales.

Check back with me and I’ll let you know how I do.
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5 thoughts on “Hypermiling or “How to Save Gas by Changing Your Driving Habits”

  1. I would love to avoid sitting in traffic but that would involve moving away from southern California. I have this big Thule cargo unit on top of my car that’s bad for gas mileage, but after all the wildfires we’ve decided we’d rather have the extra storage set up and ready to go in case we have to leave in a hurry …

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  2. James – I tried the cruise control today on the Interstate. I stayed in the right lane at 62 (55 is the speed limit) and I never had to hit the brakes once because everyone kept passing me. Oh, yeah, and shooting me nasty looks, the middle finger, and cutting in front of me to point out that they thought I was going too slow. D.

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  3. I am not leaving the house unless I absolutely HAVE to…so I guess being a Hermit helps me save gas…LOL! Great tips though! I will keep that in mind next time I plan out my Yardsale routes!

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  4. Techniques that I use / these are some and they become part of your driving habits/

    1. Take your time and Start driving from 10 to 15 minutes earlier.
    2. Keep speed over 60 but under 75 highway and cruise as much as possible
    3. City driving is a mess 0ver 40 and less that 45. Break as little as possible avoide schools zones.
    4. Reduce speed but not use the brake if it is possible. If you are able to see the traffic lights from far and you see the Red a few blocks ahead get the foot from the pedal and let the car to slow down by it self.
    5. If it is possible drive avoiding rush hours (city driving or Hwy driving)
    6. Do not worry if people line up driving after your car, because they are saving gas at the same time (I am calling this collective Hypermiling line)
    7. Do not miss an oil, or maintenance schedule of your car. Also make some inquires around because d\some decent mechanics give you better job and warranties that your own car dealer. Investigate.
    8. Check tire air pressure al lease once a week. It is better if a professional do the job and you can tip a dollar or 2 for the mechanic to get his cup of coffee. Small price to pay for piece of mind.
    9. Do not worry if one day you in a rush you have to make up for it some other day.
    10. Take a day at a time to change your habits. It is difficult but with time we will reduce the addiction to oil 10, 20,30 percent a year, and your wallet will thank you for the small changes.

    They are more but I am driving most of the time Hwy making fro 37 to 41 miles per gallon in a 2005 Honda Civic.
    I forget to mention that “my car” is more economic with gas that contain 10 % or less ethanol.

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  5. I have a 2000 Honda Civic and on the last three half tanks of gas I got 37, 32, and 46.6 mpg. For the last three years I average 30 – 33 mpg depending on how I drive. BTW, I live in a suburb of Dallas. These are the tips I followed:

    1. Accelerate slowly at 1/4 throttle vs. 3/4 throttle.
    2. Coast up to a stop. You’ll be amazed at how far you can coast. Most people keep their foot on the gas until they put it on the brake. Plan a little ahead and take your foot of the gas, coast for 20 – 100 yards and then get on the brake. It takes a while to plan ahead.
    3. Fill up in the morning. The ground is cold so gasoline is more dense than later in the day as it heats up.
    4. Fill up when 1/2 full or 1/2 empty. Less gasoline evaporation in the tank.
    5. Fill up slowly on lowest nozzle setting. This prevents vapor loss through the vapor return.
    6. At stop lights, put automatic transmission into Neutral until light turns green.

    I hope to get to 50mpg.

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