My Mileage is Better Than Your Mileage

You may have heard about folks out there who describe themselves as “hypermilers”. What is that, you might ask? Well, it’s basically just someone who gets more out of a gallon of gas than the rest of us. Not a little more, though, but A LOT more – hypermilers can often nearly double the EPA listed mileage for a given car. One of the leaders in the hypermiler movement, Wayne Gerdes, can get nearly 60 mpg out of his 2005 Honda Accord (EPA est 34 mpg), and once got 127 mpg out of a Prius (EPA est 42 mpg)!

We all can learn from what they do, for their tips range from things we all should be doing anyway all the way up to the downright crazy / illegal things that it takes to get up into the mileage stratosphere. Some of the easier hypermiling tips and tricks are

  1. driving the speed limit,
  2. making sure your car is tuned and well-lubricated with tires inflated at all times,
  3. performing very gradual stops and starts (or picking routes that don’t require them at all), and
  4. not using air conditioning.

What about some of the more aggressive tactics?

  • Pulling in behind 18-wheelers or other large vehicles and “draft” behind them, much as a NASCAR driver will do before passing for the lead. The problem is, this might put you in the truck driver’s blind spot (a bad idea) and also could lead you to tailgate (illegal);
  • Driving much slower than the speed limit, risking fines for impeding traffic;
  • Over-inflating tires (reduces surface area in contact with road but increases risk of blowout under certain circumstances);
  • Riding with one set of tires on the white lane markers (reduces friction but risks having a cyclist as a hood ornament if you’re not careful);
  • Shifting into neutral and turning off the car when coasting (very efficient, but can be dangerous because it eliminates power steering and brakes), or
  • Choosing not to drive in areas or at times of high winds (???).

Highly Modified CivicClearly, this stuff takes practice, planning, a bit of OCD, and a certain propensity to push the boundaries of legality and safety. Of course, the argument is that saving $ and the planet make it all worthwhile.

For anyone interested in reading more, here are a few good links with tips and descriptions of the hypermiling tricks:

  • From Edmunds.com, a good summary of the key techniques;
  • A pretty comprehensive list of hypermiling techniques (on, of all things, a credit card comparison site!);
  • And, last but certainly not least, the place where it all started, the online forum CleanMPG. This particular post is the motherlode of hypermiling info, and this link shows photos of the many of the devices and technologies that hypermilers employ.

We’d love to know what you do to improve your gas mileage – please leave some comments!

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