From Gas Hog to Hyper-miler

For those who own a car, one of the easiest things you can do to save money is use less gas. The best technique to increase fuel efficiency is called hypermiling. Through small changes in driving behavior, you can increase your fuel economy by nearly 40%.

To begin, make sure that your car is optimized for hypermiling, as any inefficiency in the vehicle will detract from your overall mile-per-gallon (MPG) rate. It is recommended that you use high performance, iridium-tipped spark plugs. These plugs generate a longer spark, insuring that all the fuel in the combustion chamber gets ignited. You should also consider using low viscosity and lightweight oil. Although slightly more expensive than regular oils, synthetics such as 0W-20 reduce powertrain friction and require less energy to pump, conserving fuel and saving you money. Every 30,000 miles or so (check your manual for the exact timetable) you should change your air filter. This is easy to do and takes less than five minutes. Consider the aforementioned alterations as investments. They will cost more initially, but more than pay for themselves in the long run.

As the main contact point between the road and your car, tires play a significant role in fuel economy. Make sure that are aligned, weighted properly, and inflated to the correct pressure. Getting rid of unnecessary weight will also increase in your MPG; so take all the non-essentials out of your car.

The staunch hypermiler will put some effort into planning before he/she embarks. When making multiple stops, it is best to go the furthest distance first, as engines operate more efficiently when they are warmed up. Country roads and routes that require less stopping are optimal, even if the distance is a bit further.

After you’ve planned your route and made the proper alterations to your vehicle, you can begin to hypermile. Whilst driving, accelerate as slow as possible, maintain a constant speed, and drive at or below the speed limit (to reduce air friction). If you do need to accelerate quickly, put the pedal to the medal and get it over with as quickly as possible. Doing this is more efficient than slowly getting up to speed. Drive as if you don’t have bakes, coasting as much as possible. This will not only increase gas mileage, but also extend the life of your brake pads. Counter-intuitively, disengaging the clutch or putting your car into neutral is less efficient. When you take your foot off the gas pedal the injectors shut off completely. When you go into neutral, however, the engine goes into idle mode, using up more gas than it otherwise would.

Take heed and obey traffic laws. Tickets, fines, and increased insurance fees from running stop signs or going below the minim speed limit will eat into your savings, offsetting all of your hypermiling efforts. When going through hilly terrain, go slow up hill and fly downhill. When appropriate, draft off of other vehicles. Aerodynamically speaking, cars create a wake of low- density air behind them as they go. By tailgating, your car requires less energy to push through the air ahead of it, but the closer you get the more dangerous the situation becomes, so draft with care.

Opening your windows creates aerodynamic drag, and using the air conditioner drains energy. If you can stand the heat, keep your windows up and the A/C off. Bring a bottle of ice water with you when you drive to keep you cool. If you can’t handle it, crack one window and turn the fan on low. Another strategy is to cycle your air conditioner. Crank it up full blast for a few minutes then shut it off and use only the fan for a while.

The final aspect of hypermiling is the park job. Instead of searching for a spot close to the entrance, park far away. This will reduce the stop-and-go driving that is typical within parking lots. Look for a spot with the highest elevation and park facing downhill; enabling you to coast a little when starting your engine while it is cold and  inefficient.

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