What is Hypermiling?

Everyone is always looking for a way to eliminate expenses from their monthly budget. One of the ways that you can reduce your expenses is by properly managing your driving habits. Your driving habits have a direct result on your fuel economy. You can put more money in your own pocket by cutting down on your fuel consumption costs. Here are a few ways to reduce your fuel costs. The following is a guest post from Money Supermarket.

What is Hypermiling?

With the cost of fuel and car insurance rising this year, motorists may be looking at ways to off-set the increased cost.

There are a group of drivers who strive to make sure they drive in the most economical and efficient way possible. They even go to extreme measures to squeeze every last mile they can out of their gas tank.

They are known as, and refer to themselves as ‘hypermilers’.

The hypermiling community investigates and shares methods of driving which conserve fuel, in an attempt to exceed the manufacturer’s stated efficiency of their cars and to combat the rising cost of motoring.

Some of the methods they employ include:

  • Removing excess weight from the vehicle
  • Minimising drag by keeping windows closed
  • Wearing lighter shoes to allow better sensitivity on the pedals.

These three methods are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hypermiling, with its followers striving to come up with new ways to save money all the time.

Origins

The origins of hypermiling can be traced back to hybrid vehicle clubs, who would compare the fuel efficiency of their engines. The term, itself is said to have been coined Wayne Gerdes, known as the ‘Father of Hypermiling’, who holds the title of World’s Most Fuel Efficient Driver.

Does it work?

It takes a big change of mentality in the way you drive, but some hypermilers claim that the methods they use make their cars as much as 60 percent more fuel-efficient.

How do I do it?

According to the community, the first thing you need to do is to work out your current miles-per-gallon (MPG).

You can measure you MPG using online tools and your car’s odometer, or you can buy specialist equipment to do the job for you.

Once you know what your current MPG is, you can start using some hypermiling methods to see if you can improve it.

Some Hypermiling methods

  • ‘Coasting and burning’: This means taking your foot off the accelerator as you approach a junction which you know you will have to either stop at or slow down for. Coasting and burning minimises the need for braking and makes full use of the car’s forward momentum.
  • Slipstreaming: Also known in the racing world as drafting, this involves following in the slipstream of the vehicle in front of you. This makes your car more fuel efficient as there is reduced wind-resistance. Of course this could be dangerous, so hypermilers encourage its followers to follow the ‘two-second rule’.
  • Parking in the sun: Hypermilers try to park in direct sunlight to avoid the windshield freezing up, and consequently the need to leave the engine running to defrost it.
  • Strategic parking: Parking in a spot where you are able to make a forwards entry and exit does away with an unnecessary reverse manoeuvre.
  • Switching off: Turning off the engine at times when the vehicle is stationary, such as in traffic jams, traffic lights and at level-crossings.

You don’t have to go to these extremes

Most of us don’t have the time or inclination to join the hypermilers, but you can make sure you are motoring for as cheaply as possible by car-sharing with a colleague and making sure your tires are always properly inflated to save on fuel, and using price-comparison sites like moneysupermarket.com and go compare to get the best deal on your insurance.

Photo by: ogilvyprworldwide

44 Responses to “What is Hypermiling?”

  1. avatar John Roper says:

    Drive at 55 mph in the right hand lane which will be at a pretty steady pace and over 20 miles will only add a couple of minutes more travel time. Also keep the tires pumped up to the correct pressure rating. Both of these things will decrease the tire wear quite a bit with increased savings.

  2. Haha, some of these guys forgot about opportunity costs. I don’t think it’s worth saving 10 cents by tailgating someone… ‘Coasting and burning’ is smart though. Was this a guest post btw? :P

  3. Woops, missed that line at the top. Just saw that it was.

  4. avatar Guy Snow says:

    On Interstates, drafting an 18wheeleer can result in almost taking your foot off the gas pedal. Some truck drivers hate this so watch out. Also for streamlining, take off or turn in those two big side mirrors.

  5. avatar Frank says:

    Is this somekind of joke how is anyone going to save 60% on their fuel cost by following the tips you listed

  6. avatar Stilo says:

    Yeah, I remember my father talking about his father putting the car into neutral to coast down hills, or wherever, a habit that’s kind of dangerous. This would have been around the time of the Great Depression. I think just planning your itinerary so as to get the most done in the fewest miles is the best method.

  7. On road trips, I use cruise control as much as possible in my 1999 Chevy Astro. If the trip permits, I’ll remove one or both rear seats. My recorded mileage has been as high as 22 mpg, and usually runs between 20-21 mpg. Not bad for a V-6 pushing a brick.

  8. avatar Steve says:

    I also question the 60% overall, although I do know that drafting could save you that much while you are driving into a strong headwind.

    Coasting not only saves fuel costs, but also wear & tear on your brakes, which are not cheap to replace.

  9. avatar JR says:

    Best way to drop milage costs: Drill here, drill now, and DUMP Obama and Pelosi

  10. avatar retireby40 says:

    Yes, using cruise control is the easiest way to save gas. Put your foot on the pedal and feel what the cruise control is doing and try to emulate that in everyday driving. Learn from the machine.
    Personally, we downsized to one car and that saved about half the gas. ;)
    We do have to pay a bit for public transport though.
    Drafting is dangerous on public highway, I would never do that. I’m not a race car driver.

  11. avatar Al says:

    The hypermilers that set the record some years back with a 2006 Prius went over 110 miles on one gallon of gas. They used several methods. I am averaging just under 47 MPG overall and when it was new it was 47.6. I have gotten as high as 55 on a tank of gas, driving off the freeways at the 55 MPH speed limit near sea level on a nice day where neither the air conditioner nor the heater were in use. The only way I am going to get 110 MPG on my car is down hill and down wind.

  12. avatar Bodine says:

    It seems to me that every time I’m going somewhere there’s someone ahead of the line saving gas or diesel. Keep your tires at about 34-36# and the old tank will handle better too. Don;t pump the gas pedal and keep your left foot OFF the brake pedal!

  13. avatar bill eich says:

    I drive a 2003 V6 GMC truck and drive 60 mph on Interstate. I regularly get 30 mpg. I don’t do drafting but never accelerate or stop suddenly, practically never use brakes.

  14. avatar Mike says:

    Years ago we used to install a vacuum gauge on the dash. Vacuum is highest at idle (closed throttle) and lowest at full throttle. The more you step on the gas the lower the gauge would read. It was a real challenge to keep the reading as high as possible but it paid off in higher mileage. I remember having a gauge expressly made for this purpose. It had three color areas, red, orange and green and no numbers. Keeping it in the green resulted in the best mileage.

  15. avatar Alwyn says:

    I think you save the most money by just driving a constant speed on the highway. These ‘slipstreaming’ idiots have to constantly break and accelerate to stay in position while I just relax and cruise along in confidence that I will spot any problems ahead well ahead of time. Now if I can just get the slipstreamer off my behind it would be perfect.

  16. avatar Bob says:

    I used to work for one of the automakers and I tested the some of the vehicles to optimize the fuel economy on the sticker. The federal test used to determine these numbers is based on a route designed by the EPA over 35 years ago in Ann Arbor, MI and hasn’t been changed since. The vehicles are calibrated to get the best mileage in the city at 25 mph and highway at 55mph. (That was the national speed limit back then) All the tips listed are well worthwhile however be mindful a few of them (drafting, coasting downhill in neutral) can be dangerous. Keep your tires inflated to the max pressure stated on the tire. The ride will be slightly more harsh but it increases mileage. The ratings by the manufacturer are lower to give a more softer ride.

  17. avatar Joe says:

    Slipstreaming is just another word for tailgating.

    While there are definate advantages to eficiency THE DANGERS involved are huge and the increased likelyhood of being involved in accident of serious proportions is multiplied exponentially. Visibility is reduced. Sufficient room for reaction time is eliminated.

    A common site on the highway is shredded truck tires. Imagine one of these peices of truck tire comming through your windshield at 70 mph and taking off you or your passengers head.

  18. avatar a. palmer jr. says:

    To the poster that didn’t want slipstreamers on his back..they actually help your fuel mileage also by eliminating the vacuum behind your car. The tighter the second car is to you the better, as far as mileage is concerned. That’s another story about safety, however.

  19. avatar Bill Clarkson says:

    My ’98 Eldorado ETC got 27.1 mpg over an 1100 mile round trip that crossed the Allegheny Mountains in PA twice last summer (2009). BTW, the odometer has over 170k miles as of yesterday afternoon. The engine? The 4.6L 32 valve Northstar V-8 rated at 300 hp. You don’t need an econo-box to get acceptable mpg.

  20. avatar Jesse says:

    I cannot stand tailgaters. I usually do brake checks a couple of times to get rid of them. One time I came to a complete stop in the left lane of a two lane highway. The car behind had to stop or eat the semi to the right of us. I did not have a problem with any other tailgaters for the rest of my trip.

  21. avatar Dennis says:

    You can use Google Transit to find public transportation to and from your destination. My 20 minute commute would take 2 hours and cost $3.00 in bus fare each way. That’s 3 hours and 20 minutes longer per day to take the bus! I only work 8 hours, so to spend 4 hours a day commuting is insane. My commute is about 17 miles, and I get about 17 mpg, I use two gallons of fuel to get to work and back. So it costs the same either way. Also, driving I save 3 hours 20 minutes per day. If I work a couple extra hours a week I can fill up my fuel tank.

  22. avatar a says:

    The left lane is for passing and faster traffic! If you’re in the left lane and someone’s tailgating you, especially if no one’s in front of you, that means YOU need to move over and let them pass. YOU are in the way and creating a hazard on the roadway. Coming to a complete stop on a highway? Lucky you didn’t kill someone!

  23. I’ve heard about these extreme ways (like intense tailgating) to increase fuel efficiency. I’ve read about reducing the weight of the vehicle and having it cleaned often.

  24. avatar joew says:

    I practice many of the tips for increased mileage, and have averaged over 34mpg on a 2002 Buick Parke Ave, on long road trips

  25. avatar Jim says:

    I drive a 2000 Crown Vic. AT 75mph it gets 21mpg and 60 it gets 26-27mpg. The longest run over the months is 55 miles. I lose about 10 minutes on the trip but gain 20-25% in gas mileage. That 10 minute loss saves about $1.50 in gas. If I drove that five dasy a week, that would be $360 a year. Hello HDTV

  26. avatar John says:

    All good tips particularly proper tire pressure and smooth driving (accelerate slowly and slow down ahead of stop signals so you don’t have to brake at the last few feet). Don’t forget to keep your engine running efficiently, even though cars of today no longer need tuneups every 10K miles, having it checked regularly will increase performance which increases mileage. Keeping the air filter clean/changed (possibly change to the higher efficiency models available), oil (proper viscosity) and filter changed. Check your oxygen sensor, gas filter, spark plug gap and look into getting a low restriction catalytic converter and muffler, as well as a performance exhaust manifold if you want extra mileage (these absolutely add mileage as well as performance. The converter, muffler and manifold are expensive and may not be worth it if you trade cars often. I drive a Chrysler van and have gotten over 30 mpg if I keep it between 60-65 (with a totally stock engine), proper tire inflation and smooth driving, 32 mpg if I keep it below 60 (as I don’t always use cruise control it could possibly be higher). I do have one of the rear seats removed (possibly 60 lbs(?). Smooth driving gives me 20 plus in town (probably would be higher except the wife drives it occasionally). Friends with same vehicles get maybe 23-24 hwy and 16 in town.

  27. avatar Tom Smith says:

    There have been many good suggestions about increasing mileage on this site, but not one has mentioned a very valuable instrument most of us have right in front of us: The tachometer or RPM indicator. This tells you how fast your engine is operating at any given speed. Bringing this into your scan of indications will tell you how much RPM your are expending during acceleration, cruise and coasting.

    Using this instrument makes you very aware of what you can do to accomodate your best engine perfomance and economy. Scan only.

    Watch the road always…

    Retired airline pilot

  28. avatar Pat says:

    Another simple approach is to let the car speed up on downhill stretches and then let it bleed that extra speed off on the next uphill stretch.

  29. avatar ROB says:

    A RETIRED TRUCK DRIVER, I HAVE SEEN A LOT OF FOOLISH PEOPLE TAIL-GATING ME. ONCE, WHILE PULLING A RAIL-VAN TRAILER, I BLEW A TRAILER TIRE. THE RE-CAP SMACKED A BMW SMACK DEAD ON THE GRILL-HOOD AND WIND-SHIELD. LOTS OF DAMAGE. THE DRIVER WAS IRATE. WHEN THE TROOPER (INDIANA STATE TROOPER) WROTE HIM A CITATION, AND SENT ME ON MY WAY, HE WAS STILL MUMBLING THAT HE WAS NOT TAIL-GATING. FOLKS, THE REAR TIRES ON TRAILERS ARE THE CHEAPEST TIRES THE OWNERS CAN BUY. ON A HOT DAY, YOU WILL SEE TIRE “CAPS” ON THE ROADWAY, OR BLOWN INTO SMALL PIECES. DO NOT TAIL-GATE, IT COULD GET YOU KILLED, AND YOUR FAMILY. WATCH AS YOU TRAVEL, AT THE NUMBER OF TRUCKS ON THE ROADSIDE, THAT HAVE FLAT TIRES ON THEIR TRAILERS. RAIL TRAILERS & RENTAL ARE NOTORIOUS FOR “BLOWING”.
    ON HOT DAYS, IT WAS NOT UNCOMMON TO BLOW 2 OR 3 TIRES BETWEEN CLEVELAND, OHIO, AND CHICAGO, ILL. RAIL TRAILERS AND RENTALS. TRUCKING COMPANIES, MAJOR COMPANIES, MOST GENERALLY HAVE GOOD TIRES, AND GOOD INSPECTIONS..GOOD LUCK

  30. avatar Norm says:

    OK! Pat is correct. Cruise control only wins in flat land. Up and down hills cruise control loses.
    Keep gas pedal locked at intended cruise speed on the flat and don’t move it going up hills unless it gets down to a crawl and Your disturbing people behind You.
    Going down hills another matter. If its a long steep hill let off the gas. Maybe go to neutral(maybe not a god idea) and coast. It’s also about gaging the inertia transition to the flat or going up a hill right after that.
    Getting back on the gas would be somewhat hard to find the sweet spot again without fishing for it for the flat or going up hill soon after. A little practice and common sense will do it.
    There were a two major car manufactures that tested for best milage from dead stops to cruise. I’m just the messanger here. They claim slow acceleration wastes fuel. Quick acceleration gets the best milage. Just don’t spin a tire and don’t have the automatic traney down shifting . Get rock steady cruise after that.

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