What is Hypermiling?
Hypermiling is a technique used by drivers to maximise fuel economy; there are numerous adjustments that can be made to your car and driving technique that maximise the amount of mileage you get from a standard tank of fuel. Many of them are common sense, however hypermiling has the potential to increase the miles / gallon (MPG) you get out of standard fuel by 40%, so even adopting a few of the strategies below can save you money, and lower your carbon footprint.
Safety points before you start
Hypermiling has come under recent scrutiny due to safety concerns of the practise, so please note that the techniques below are to be used in appropriate circumstances. Please be aware of other users on the road, and don’t endanger yourself or others for the sake of minimal savings.
Over inflating tyres and tailgating are two hypermiling techniques that we don’t condone – please drive safely!
Hypermiling – Adjustments you can make to your Car
The following section looks at some simple changes you can make to your car, to ensure that you can go further on each tank of fuel!
- Keep your car well maintained – regular servicing will ensure the engine is in the best condition.
- Ensure tyre pressure is correct (not over inflated) as if tyres are underinflated, there will be more surface area touching the ground and increase drag.
- Remove any unnecessary weight – the golf clubs need to come out! A lighter car results in increased mileage
- If possible keep windows up as when open they increase drag.
- Air-conditioning can lower fuel consumption by up to 10%, so turning it off will increase your mileage.
- Remove any roof – racks or bike racks on the back of the car, as these increase drag when present.
Hypermiling – Adjustments to driving Technique
This section looks at ways you can alter your driving technique to ensure that you get the maximum distance between fuel stops!
- DON’T DRIVE!! Give up using the car; if a journey can be achieved by walking or biking use that method as you save 100% fuel. Short journeys use more fuel as the engine doesn’t get a chance to warm up.
- Avoid heavy braking, as all you are doing when you brake is converting fuel to heat and brake dust. By freewheeling to slow down you use the car’s stored momentum, saving fuel – this technique is known as Coast and Burn.
- Drive more slowly, at higher speeds the engine needs to work harder and is therefore using more fuel and lowering your MPG.
- By driving reactively (i.e. following the car in front very closely) you are constantly hitting the brake / accelerator, so they are controlling your fuel consumption. If you drive with a larger space between the cars, you are able to anticipate changes in speed easier, so can freewheel to slow down (see two points above)
- Take advantage of the corridor effect – all things being equal, when travelling at a constant speed on a motorway, your efficieny will be higher when driving amongst cars rather than driving in isolation due to artificial wind current pulling you forward created by the other cars.
- Avoid driving in bad weather, as this can increase freewheeling resistance.
- Driving in strong head winds will also decrease MPG
- Avoid travelling in peak traffic as the stopping and starting decreases MPG due to the extra energy required to get the car moving in the first instance.
- Minimise idling time – if you are going to be sat in standstill traffic for more than a few seconds, or at lights that you know take time to change, it is worth shifting to neutral and turning off the engine.
- Try to avoid coming to a complete stop, it takes much less energy to accelerate a car that is going just a few mph than one at a complete standstill, thus using less fuel so increasing your MPG efficiency.
- Get to know the ‘racing line’ when driving – obviously don’t endanger yourself, but by keeping your momentum as you drive, there is less need to press the accelerator, therefore saving fuel.
- Engine off coasting is one of the largest contributors to increased efficiency in hybrid vehicles where the engine turns off when the accelerator is released and the vehicle is coasting. This can be achieved in non-hybrids too, but putting it into neutral and moving the key from on to Acc (NOT OFF – this may lock the steering).
- If you have a means of tracking your MPG in the car, you can use this to set a ‘target’ rate of fuel consumption as you drive. The plan is then to always keep the car above this rate, this may well mean that you slow down going up hills, and potentially have to shift down – and this may annoy drivers following you, however it will make you a more efficient driver.
- If at a standstill, don’t start the engine till you can see a space in front of you to move into, especially if pulling into traffic or onto a busy road from a parking space.
- When you have a choice of multiple vehicles to drive, drive the one with the most efficient car, and hopefully the one that was driven the most recently as this may hold some residual warmth in the engine, so reduces the amount of energy required to get it to optimum temperature.
- If you drive an automatic with economy mode – use it!! This results in earlier upshifts and later downshifts saving fuel.
- If you have the choice of driving 2 wheel drive or 4 wheel drive, use the 2 wheel drive, as there is added friction involved in the drive components of 4WD, especially when the central differential is locked and you are turning.
- Avoid towing – thereby avoiding the added weight, decreased aerodynamics and extra set of tires in contact with the road increasing resistance.
Driving in Winter
- Avoid driving in snow, wait till it is ploughed or use roads that have been gritted and have no snow.
- If driving on ice, pull away in second gear, as this will help avoid wheelspin, reducing the amount of wasted energy.
- If the car in front is creating clear tyre tracks, use them. This will reduce the energy used trying to get the moving.
- Park under cover – snow on the car will increase weight which means you need to use more fuel to get it moving. Also it will mean you will need to turn the heater on to clear the windscreen, and this energy essentially comes from the fuel you use (via the battery)
- If you can face it, keep the heater off and wear an extra jumper, by avoiding using the heater you will save fuel.
Driving in Summer
- Cycle you Air conditioning, and turn it off all together if you can deal with the warmer temp in the car.
- Park in the shade, so the car doesn’t turn into an oven while you are not using it as you will need to use the Air conditioning to cool it on your return, increasing fuel consumption
- Avoid driving at the hottest part of the day, thereby minimising the use of air conditioning.
We hope that by following a few of these tips, it will help you use less fuel to get from A to B – obviously cars are incredibly important to get people around, but if you can do the journey by walking or on a bike then not only will you save the cost of fuel you will also be getting exercise.