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Increase your gas mileage: A guide to ‘hypermiling’

Rance Russo Sep 13, 2011

On today’s show, I gave Kai a lesson on hypermiling, a method of driving that can increase your car’s gas mileage and in turn save you from spending so much at the pump.

Want to give hypermiling a try? Here are a few of my tips:

Things you can do before you even get into your car…

• Make sure that your tires are properly inflated. Under-inflated tires are also a sure-fire way to rob you of fuel economy because of increased rolling resistance.

• Plan your trips accordingly. Your car starts and runs more efficiently when it’s been driving for a while. So if you have to take a trip to two places, go to the one that’s further away first.

• Remove excess weight from your car. If you have things like golf clubs, suitcases or anything else that you don’t need on a daily basis, take them out. More weight = more for the engine to move.

• Basic maintenance. Take your car in for regular check-ups. Clean oil and clean air filter mean better MPGs.

While you are driving…

• Slow down! Driving 80 m.p.h. on the highway as opposed to 60 m.p.h. on a short trip won’t get you there much faster. But depending on your car, it could cost you $2.

• Look down the road and pay attention! If you can anticipate what lies ahead, you are already operating the car more efficiently.

Some basic techniques:

• Timing lights. Try to figure out how the lights work on some of your drives. Like if a light turns green, maybe the next few will turn red right after — then you know you can go much slower since you’ll catch a red light anyway.

• Coming to a red-light or stop sign. Don’t wait ’til the last second to brake. If you see a red light coming up, let off the gas and slowly brake to your stop.

• Minimize the time spent idling. If you need to stop for a while — turn your car off. This means always skipping the drive-thrus!

• Driving without brakes (DWB). Try to drive with the minimal amount of braking. When you brake, you’re just wasting the gas to get back to the speed that you were at.

• Driving with Load (DWL). An engine runs more efficiently in a narrower power band. So try to keep your car from deviating too far from a certain RPM.

• Anticipate Hills. Your engine has to work harder to take you up a hill. If you are approaching a hill — accelerate to build up some speed.

• Minimize Cruise Control. If you’re driving in a hilly area, it’s best to turn your cruise control off.

• Slow Acceleration. Quick acceleration robs you of you MPGs. Accelerate gently and smoothly.

• Turn off the A/C. Your air conditioner can decrease your MPG by up to 30%.

• Accelerating from a stop technique. Your engine has to work that much harder to get the car moving from a dead stop. So when the light turns green, take your foot off the brake and let the car roll for a few seconds. Then apply the gas and start accelerating forward.

Rance Russo is a hypermiler and a commercially licensed pilot. His website is Every One MPG.

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