Hypermiling is the act of trying to get every last possible ounce of mileage from your tank of gas and it’s been getting a ton of attention lately because of $4+ gasoline prices. The problem with hypermiling isn’t that it’s dangerous, it’s that mainstream media is sensationalizing the more extreme, dangerous and aggressive aspects of it in order to garner attention. They focus on people pushing cars to get momentum before starting the car, they talk about drafting close to large trucks, and they talk about shutting off the engine at seemingly awkward or dangerous times.
But that’s not hypermiling is about.
In fact, calling those tactics as essential or typical does a disservice to the concept. If you visit Hypermiling.com , you’ll see it’s not actually about those fringe tactics. It’s about being aware of your gas consumption, driving skills, and your surroundings so that you don’t waste gas.
Here are a few tips that I try to follow when I’m out driving (these are all in the hypermiling playbook):
- Give yourself 2 seconds between your car and the car ahead of you. If they brake, this means you can coast without hitting the brake. The brake is the enemy when you’re hypermiling because it essentially converts gasoline into heat, not motion.
- If you see a red light or a “stale green,” a long green light that might go yellow, release the gas and coast. I’m a fan of coasting up to red lights hoping they’ll turn green. You can watch other cars for cues as to how long you have to wait (if the oncoming traffic’s turn lane’s are moving, you’re almost there).
- Accelerate slowly from stop. I try to let gravity get me going before I hit the gas, then I press it gently. I’m in no hurry!
- This article on traffic waves  is great, I wish everyone read it.
There’s more to the site but I wanted to get back to the more extreme tactics. Those are the tactics that will get you that extra 2-5 MPG. Do you really need a $160 ScanGauge II 3-in-1 Compact Multifunction Vehicle Computer with Customizable Display ? Probably not. Drafting behind a semi? Dangerous. The advanced hypermiling tricks are great to get you that extra mile per gallon but are hardly necessary or a staple of the mainstream hypermiling techniques. If you can understand the basics, you will save yourself a lot of gas and be just fine. 🙂
Do you have any useful hypermiling ideas not mentioned here or on the site?