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
- 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
- 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.