Hypermiling and Your Next Road Trip

The good news is that hypermiling can save you a lot of money on your next road trip. The bad news is that you may very well find some of the techniques unrealistic for actual use on the highway.

First of all, what exactly is hypermiling? It's the practice of using specialized driving techniques to maximize fuel efficiency. It's much more than just observing speed limits and combining errands - it can completely change the way you drive.

Seven Hypermiling Tips for You

Here are some commonly used techniques:

  • Stepping off the gas when you see red. Ever noticed how many people keep accelerating down the block, even though the traffic light just turned red and it obviously won't be green again by the time they reach the intersection? They're wasting gas.

    You, however, can save gas by starting to coast the second you see a red light. Mind you, you shouldn't brake - that could get you rear-ended. Just coast until you absolutely have to brake.

  • Avoid braking whenever possible. Some drivers use their brakes to regulate their speed. You should seek to use yours only to avoid hitting something. Think about what that really means for your driving: no aggressiveness and no tailgating. You'll need to go with the flow of the traffic and allow a safe buffer between your car and other vehicles.

  • Use your cruise control to accelerate. Here's where hypermiling might start to feel a little weird for some people. One website suggests that when you're accelerating your car, you might try setting your cruise control at a low speed and then using its accelerate button to speed up more gradually than normal, thus saving gas. As the site warns, this technique will only be safe in certain road conditions.

  • Take off slowly from red lights and stop signs. Even if you're not going to use your cruise control to accelerate, certainly make a point of not making "rocket starts" in which you rev the engine and lurch forward suddenly.

  • Drive in the warmer parts of the day. This may go against the conventional wisdom for road trips. When you're taking a long drive in the summer, your natural instinct is to try to do your heaviest driving when it's not so hot out. But engines actually run more efficiently when it's warm.

  • Keep your windows up at high speeds. When you roll them down, you increase drag on the car. If you're concerned about using the AC, just turn on the vent instead.

  • Travel at your car's most efficient speed. Sounds like common sense, right? But most cars reach their most efficient speed right after kicking up to their highest gear - and that's often around 55 miles per hour. If we're talking about long road trips - and we are - that can present a problem.

    If you're really committed to saving gas, consider planning your road trip around state highways and county roads with speed limits of 50 to 60 miles per hour. You'll probably see better scenery there anyway.

So, there you have it. Hypermiling isn't for everyone, but we hope we've provided at least a couple of tips that can help you save gas.

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