Wayne Gerdes is credited with creating the term “hypermiling” as a conscious way to squeeze the most miles per gallon in fuel economy for any vehicle. The goal for drivers is to meet (or even exceed) the mileage of a comparable size hybrid vehicle.
If the driver happens to own a hybrid, then the challenge is to exceed the EPA ratings for that vehicle with smart driving tactics. Either way, it’s a game and you win at the pump. Before you can improve your gas mileage, you have to know what your current miles per gallon are.
If you have a new car, then you can find that information on the sticker. Even so, you need to test the mileage both in the city and on the highway as these differ for every vehicle.
You also need to have your car serviced and the motor tuned. A car that’s struggling to perform due to engine problems or a clogged fuel filter isn’t likely to get good gas mileage no matter how carefully you drive.
Any motivated driver can learn basic concepts of hypermiling. Even learning a few techniques can improve the mileage for most any vehicle. Beginners to hypermiling can start by not being heavy footed on the accelerator.
Avoid racing to the stoplight and let the car glide to a stop. It takes less power to stop from lower speeds than to suddenly hit the brake – plus this means less wear on your tires. Don’t gun the motor when sitting at a traffic light.
Use the cruise control, even in town. This isn’t just for highway driving, it’s also the way to drive a consistent speed (and avoid a traffic ticket). If you have enough distance, you can take off the cruise control and let the car decelerate toward the stoplight.
Practice this maneuver around a quiet neighborhood until you can do it smoothly. Speaking of smooth, a hypermiling driver is a calm driver. Letting your temper flare in traffic and driving aggressively wastes fuel as well as increasing the risk of accidents.
Aggressive drivers press their brakes three to four times more frequently than calm drivers. When traffic flow slows, hypermilers drop down to the lower speed knowing that moving consistently, even though it’s slower, is really the fastest and most fuel efficient way to move thought the traffic jam and get to work without a stress headache.
Perhaps the great virtue of hypermilers is that they are attentive to their driving. They’re thinking of ways to drive that makes the most of every gallon of gas. Whether they’re hypermiling because of sticker shock at the pump or because it’s a personal challenge, the reward is worth the effort. We all win when each person does something to conserve energy.