Sometimes, it can feel like this at the gas station.
When you buy a car, one cost you’ve got to keep in mind is the price of fuel. Gas has been rising steadily in price over the last decade, and there’s no sign that gas prices are going to drop any time soon. You may have heard of “hypermiling” or “energy-efficient driving” and wondered if it’s right for you. Here’s what you need to know about hypermiling, and how it can save you money.
What Is Hypermiling?
At its most basic, hypermiling is a series of techniques that maximize your car’s fuel efficiency through both maintaining your vehicle and by engaging in certain driving techniques to limit how much fuel you burn. Some of them can sound a little wacky, as we’ll see, but the key thing to remember is that hypermiling techniques do, in fact, work.
That said, not all hypermiling techniques we’ll discuss are good ideas. In fact, some of the more extreme techniques can be outright dangerous. But first, let’s talk about the smart ideas hypermilers use.
The most basic techniques in the hypermiler’s handbook is pretty much going by the book. For example, hypermilers are careful to ensure their tires are always at the proper pressure, use the lightest “weight” of motor oil possible, and check their wheel alignment. They also are rigorous about their scheduled maintenance of their car. All of this is, of course, what car owners should be doing in the first place, but a lot of us ignore it.
Another method of saving gas? Keeping your car clean; even little bits of trash add weight, and the more weight you have, the more fuel you burn.
Hypermilers also closely watch their driving. For example, many hypermilers are very careful to brake properly instead of stopping short; braking slowly, just like you saw in driver’s ed, helps conserve fuel. Similarly, hypermilers don’t get speeding tickets, because the optimum speed for each car is well below its top speed; if you’re on the freeway and somebody’s going 45 in the right lane, that person is probably a hypermiler. Essentially, hypermilers drive by the book, and that’s a good way to save money not just on gas, but on insurance and other costs.
The next step is, essentially, planning ahead. Hypermilers, for example, will avoid major highways, especially during rush hour, to avoid being stuck in traffic. They’ll also use techniques like carpools that rotate which car you use, and avoid driving whenever possible by walking or riding a bicycle. Running errands with a car will mean going to the furthest point and working your way back to keep your car as “warmed up” as possible.
No gas savings are worth your life.
More Extreme Techniques
There are other techniques as well; for example, some hypermilers plan routes to avoid wind as much as possible. They don’t go through drive-thrus; idling wastes gas. And they’ll even take off roof racks or running boards. These techniques are safe… but up to you.
Other techniques, however, need to be avoided at all costs. For example, the technique of “drafting”, where you get behind a semi and drive as close as possible to reduce wind resistance, is essentially playing chicken for nickels; if the semi stops short, you’re going to rear-end it… with possibly fatal results.
The best way to save your gas is to be patient, think ahead, and use your common sense. In the end, hypermiling can come up with real gas savings, but balance those savings against your safety and the safety of others.Follow Kimbo on Google+