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Published on June 11th, 2008 | by Low Impact Living

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Low Impact Living: Hypermiling — My Mileage is Better than Your Mileage

Editor’s note: There’s no doubt about it: high gas prices are changing the ways Americans drive (and even causing them choose alternatives to driving). Our friends at Low Impact Living take a look today at the most extreme practices of driving with fuel economy in mind: hypermiling. As writer Jason Pelletier points out, some of these tactics involve safety risks… so be very careful with some of the more aggressive methods. This post was originally published on Thursday, June 5, 2008.

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 usually puts you in the truck driver’s blind spot (dumb) and also requires 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);
  • Riding with one set of tires on the white lane markers (reduces friction but risks having a cyclist as a hood ornament);
  • Shifting into neutral and turning off the car when coasting (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:

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

Want to Become a Hypermiler or Learn About Eco-Modding? Read on…

Image source: CleanMPG.com Photo Gallery



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About the Author

Low Impact Living™ is a way of life. We believe you want to lessen the load you put on the earth. You want to reduce global warming. You want to recycle. You want to do what's best for the environment, but often you don't know where to start. And you don't know what impact your efforts will have, or how much they will cost. At Low Impact Living, we want to help you lower the environmental impact of your home and your daily life. To do that, we help you find the best green products, practices and service providers to help you achieve your environmental goals. And we will also help you understand the environmental benefits and economic trade-offs of your choices. Our primary goal is to make the path from inspiration to implementation as short and as smooth as possible. Only by taking action will we collectively reduce the damage to our planet and ecosystems. Visit us at http://lowimpactliving.com



  • http://ecomodder.com Benjamin Jones

    Is the “wayne gerdes is god” show on again?

  • http://ecomodder.com Benjamin Jones

    Is the “wayne gerdes is god” show on again?

  • http://none Colin

    What a joke, how is this solving the greater problem?

    We need more attention on technological solutions that can be universalized economically, ecologically, and I wish I didn’t have to say this, legally.

    A few ultra-anal pseudo-engineers with a lot of time on their hands are not presenting any answers.

    Economically, how much extra money is being saved in gas (dollars) versus how much extra time is being spent driving slower (hours)? Any by the way how much do those extra starters cost?

    Ecologically, how much carbon is emitted every time the engine is stopped and started? How much fuel is used to charge the battery for the excess starts and stops? How effective are emission systems when the cars are operated cold (see a hypermiler’s idea of the running start)? What about the the environmental impact of wearing out tires early due to overinflation?

    My VW TDI gets 55 hassle-free mpg on 20% biodiesel without other drivers or law enforcement noticing.

  • Beast

    The problem with hypermiling is that it encourages already terrible drivers to behave in a manner that is even more unsafe. The fact that you are driving a car (not using a bicycle or taking advantage of public transportation) from the most inefficient fleet of vehicles in the world (American autos in general) shows that your creativity is better spent elsewhere. You obviously don’t give a rat’s ass about the environment – better to play “mileage games” at other people’s expense.

    I drive an SUV and don’t give a flying flip what kind of mileage I’m getting because it’s paid for and ultimately I’ll keep it until it keels over. The people who run out to buy a $30,000 prius and then drive like pricks need their head examined. Fund a wind farm, plant some trees, do something meaningful. Just stay the f off my roads.

  • Beast

    The problem with hypermiling is that it encourages already terrible drivers to behave in a manner that is even more unsafe. The fact that you are driving a car (not using a bicycle or taking advantage of public transportation) from the most inefficient fleet of vehicles in the world (American autos in general) shows that your creativity is better spent elsewhere. You obviously don’t give a rat’s ass about the environment – better to play “mileage games” at other people’s expense.

    I drive an SUV and don’t give a flying flip what kind of mileage I’m getting because it’s paid for and ultimately I’ll keep it until it keels over. The people who run out to buy a $30,000 prius and then drive like pricks need their head examined. Fund a wind farm, plant some trees, do something meaningful. Just stay the f off my roads.

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  • ChuckL

    Back in the fifties, BMW advocated acceleration at about 2/3 throttle and shifting early as a way to save fuel. It seems that their experiments had proven that the near wide open throttle reduced the “pumping losses” that are inherent in gasoline engines saving more fuel than was used by the throttle position. The procedure also called for shifting at low RPMs, definitely below peak torque. At that time this was generally less than 2000RPM.

    Of course at that time most cars were manual transmissions. With an automatic the transmission simply won’t upshift, which defeats this proven technique.

  • ChuckL

    Back in the fifties, BMW advocated acceleration at about 2/3 throttle and shifting early as a way to save fuel. It seems that their experiments had proven that the near wide open throttle reduced the “pumping losses” that are inherent in gasoline engines saving more fuel than was used by the throttle position. The procedure also called for shifting at low RPMs, definitely below peak torque. At that time this was generally less than 2000RPM.

    Of course at that time most cars were manual transmissions. With an automatic the transmission simply won’t upshift, which defeats this proven technique.

  • ChuckL

    Back in the fifties, BMW advocated acceleration at about 2/3 throttle and shifting early as a way to save fuel. It seems that their experiments had proven that the near wide open throttle reduced the “pumping losses” that are inherent in gasoline engines saving more fuel than was used by the throttle position. The procedure also called for shifting at low RPMs, definitely below peak torque. At that time this was generally less than 2000RPM.

    Of course at that time most cars were manual transmissions. With an automatic the transmission simply won’t upshift, which defeats this proven technique.

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