terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

Hypermiling May 1, 2008

Filed under: cars, conserve — terra @ 11:00 am

Get the best gas mileage you can by hypermiling. Hypermiling was created a few years ago, and it’s a driving style that attempts to reduce wasted energy and make your car as efficient as possible. Wayne Gerdes coined the term hypermiling, and he has achieved 84 mpg from a Ford Ranger, and 180 mpg from a Honda Insight.

Here are a few less-intense hypermiler things you can do:

  • Drive as if you don’t have brakes. Most people accelerate until they reach a light, and then step on the brakes. All that energy is wasted. Instead, glide from point to point, using as little acceleration as possible, but not annoying other drivers.
  • Keep your car tuned up. Inflate your tires, use the lowest weight oil, and change your air filter.
  • Drive the speed limit, or below. Cars are more efficient at around 50-55 mph.
  • Don’t idle for more than 10 seconds. Idling is pure waste.

If you’re ready to go all the way to hypermiler status, check out this forum (about 1/2 way down the page) on cleanmpg.com. It includes tips like “Potential Parking” – parking at the highest point of the parking lot so you can coast downhill when you leave. Another tip is to drive to the side and behind of a semi-trailer, so you reduce your wind drag. Forbes Autos points out 10 tips to save gas.

While research and development is being done on renewable energy for our vehicles, some people are going to great lengths to reduce their fuel consumption. I find the easiest techniques to be the ones I highlighted above – no idle, go the speed limit, don’t brake so much.


11 Responses to “Hypermiling”

  1. ada Says:

    i practice some of these things already. not always…some times the situation dictates otherwise…but for the most part i do.
    i can’t tell you what the before and after mpg is, however, since i haven’t ever really driven a full tank without paracticing some of the things.
    i can tell you that my car, a mini cooper, is rated upper 20’s city and mid 30’s highway. i drive about 6 miles freeway and 3 miles city to work, along with other things around the city, and i average around the highway mileage, overall.

    i take one exception, however, with the recommendations. driving to the top of the ramp so you can coast down. that doesn’t make any sense to me. you are expending energy to get up the ramp, and you won’t save more energy than that used to coast down, right? wouldn’t you be better off parking as level with the exit as possible, so that you don’t expend energy going up (then down), or down (then up)?
    i mean, think about it. couldn’t you equally say park at the lowest level of the ramp so that you can coast down, ignoring the fact that youhave to drive back up?

  2. ada Says:

    and i have to be honest…sometimes it is hard to restrain myself just *because* i am in a mini cooper : )
    but not too often…

  3. terra Says:

    Ada, I thought that parking one was a little labor intensive too. But, I think the idea is that your car is warmed up to optimal driving conditions when you arrive at your parking destination, so going up a hill isn’t as big a deal. Then, you let it coast while it’s still warming up, so it doesn’t have to exert a lot of energy in sub-optimal conditions. That’s my guess.

    I find it hard too, and I drive a Civic. And I love to go fast. (driving an automatic has really dampened the thrill of driving anyway)

    The Mini Coopers are awesome. I can’t wait till they bring Diesel Mini Coopers to the US (they have ‘em in Canada). The diesel version gets fantastic gas mileage, and you can run it on vegetable oil! The Mini is ideal because it’s small and lighter than other cars.

  4. ada Says:

    this completely contradicts my last post. [deleted upon ada's request] if i confuse anyone else, imagine trying to sort it out in my head.
    : )

    i went to the site (which i should have done previously, i guess).
    from scan reading it, my take is that you park in the highest potential spot, but by using forced auto stop, i think (i got lost in the haze of acronyms), to coast into the space without the combustion engine.
    if this is correct, then you would parking at the lowest high spot such that you can coast into the space without power. which is completely different than driving under power to the highest spot of the garage.
    is that about right?

    all those acronyms…a lot of them applied to hybrid features and other features that i don’t have, and hence i became uncertain exactly what they were always taking about.

  5. Matt Says:

    FYI, there was a recent article about hypermiling in an issue of Reader’s Digest…if you are interested, check it out at your local library.

  6. terra Says:

    ada, you’re right… all those acronyms were confusing. I know about Auto-Stop because I have a hybrid – the rest I had to figure out by reading the whole page. So, as you said, the point about parking is to coast into the highest spot you can reach, let the auto stop kick on, and then glide out as the car is still in warming up stage.

    Thanks for your thoughtful discourse. We’re all trying to be more efficient, so discussion is helpful. I think that most of the ideas were great. At least it gets us thinking about how cars are used.

    Another great reason to park far away is the idea that we need to add a little inconvenience to our lives, for health’s sake. It won’t hurt us to park a little farther away and walk.

  7. Matt Says:

    Nice post – I didn’t know there was a phrase for this style of driving.

    It always ticks me off when you are approaching a red light and you see some yahoo flooring it.

  8. terra Says:

    I have the hardest time hypermiling when I listen to The Strokes and The Killers! They totally mess up my mileage because I can’t help but drive fast!

  9. ada Says:

    lol terra.
    i wonder if the converse is true listening to classical music ; )

  10. Brian Says:

    Why not just ride a bike to work? I do this a couple of days a week, and guess what, I use NO gas!

  11. hypermilers Says:

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