Hypermiling may sound like the latest popular adrenaline-inducing extreme sport, but not so, unless you consider extreme gas conservation a sport. Some drivers and online groups have adopted “hypermiling” as a way to combat high gas prices by changing the way they drive. It’s a hyperactive driving technique for saving money.
Hypermiling discourages aggressiveness behind the wheel (a good thing) because of its negative effect on a car’s miles per gallon. But enthusiasts have also been known to use dangerous methods like “drafting,” which is tailgating larger vehicles to reduce wind resistance, rolling through stop signs and overinflating tires to save on gas (please, no!)
I first heard the term hypermiling from friend, author and colleague Matt Bell, (by the way, his latest book, “Trusted: Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management”, is a must-read). Hypermiling is a method of increasing your car’s gas mileage by making skillful changes in the way you drive. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but it allows hypermilers to save gas, which makes it a lot easier for them to endure rising oil and gas prices.
According to Matt, one hypermiler he knows routinely gets more than 50 miles per gallon from his 2005 Honda Accord, which is more than twice its Environmental Protection Agency rating. How does he do that?
This driver’s gas-saving tricks include always trying to park in such a way that he can pull forward instead of wasting gas backing up. Sticking to the speed limit, using cruise control when it’s safe and appropriate, and turning off the engine if he’s going to idle for more than 10 seconds are other ways this savvy hypermiler wrings every possible mile out of his gasoline.
He keeps his tires inflated to their maximum recommended pressure, and if he’s running a series of errands, he drives to the farthest destination first to warm the engine to its most efficient temperature, while also increasing gas mileage.
Other hypermilers say they let their foot off the gas the minute they see a red light in front of them. And they think ahead, even if they don’t see a red light; maybe there is a big street coming up or maybe there is a “stale” green light (a light that has been green for a long time and is due to turn amber before too long). The minute they see brake lights in front of them, hypermilers take their foot off the accelerator pedal or hit the cancel button on their cruise control to stop burning gas. Hypermilers point out that when your car is stopped, it is getting zero miles per gallon.
Hypermilers wouldn’t be caught dead making a quick getaway from a red light or stop sign. That’s because fast acceleration burns more gas, and that equals money.
If you have an automatic transmission, hypermilers suggest that you allow the automatic transmission to start moving the car slowly under its own very small acceleration — even for a second — so that when you start using the gas pedal the car is already in motion. Of course, this will not work on hills, only on flat or downgrade roadways.
The principle here is that it takes a lot of gas to move a heavy vehicle from a completely stopped position. But allowing the transmission to get it going, even if that is only for one second, you will use less gas when you do begin to accelerate.
Whether you’re into the extreme sport of hypmiling or not, all of us can reduce our gasoline costs by simply buying the cheapest gas. Websites like GasBuddy.com track local prices every day. A quick log-on will help you take the shortest trip to the station with the cheapest price. Just make sure you start off slowly.
And whatever you do, when you see a red light or brake lights ahead, back off that accelerator! Right there, you’ll reduce your chances of running out of gas before you get to the station.