If someone told you there was a way to improve your gas mileage by as much as 55 percent without making any modifications to your car, you’d probably think they were nuts. Now imagine it’s the U.S. Department of Energy telling you that. Some people might still hear the “nutjob” alarm going off, regardless. But according to studies they’ve conducted, you can dramatically improve MPG simply by driving the speed limit and—here comes the hard part for some—letting go of certain aggressive driving behaviors.
This is just one of a series of behavioral adjustments that many are adopting as gas prices continue to creep higher and higher. It’s called hypermiling, and it’s become something of a sport for those obsessed with getting hyper mileage from their vehicles. While there are plenty of unsafe techniques that people have put into use like removing their side view mirrors to eliminate drag or turning off their engines while coasting downhill, there are many other perfectly safe methods that’ll have a beneficial impact on your mileage.
- Keep your car tuned up and maintained. This is the U.S. Department of Energy’s second most effective tip for saving on gas, and according to their estimates can improve MPG in your vehicle by as much as 19 percent.
- Check your tire’s air pressure often. An underinflated tire isn’t only unsafe, it’s also incredibly wasteful. The amount of drag that you generate by driving around on tires that aren’t properly inflated is enough to impact your miles per gallon significantly. Air pressure should be checked at least once per month – but be sure you’re not overinflating, as that can be dangerous as well.
- Use cruise control when driving on freeways. This is an oft-used hyper mileage technique that keeps you at a steady, even speed and prevents you from unconsciously throttling up and down which can burn gas unnecessarily.
- Cut down on your idle time by shutting off your engine when you’re delayed at railroad crossings and packed drive-through restaurants.
- Clean out your car. While this might sound like something that your better half would nag you to do while trying to sell you on its benefits as a hypermiling technique, it actually works. Lowering the weight load in your car by not storing junk in the trunk and by not turning your car’s back seat into a second home can make a huge improvement.
In the end, common sense prevails. There are no real “secret” hypermiling techniques. As long as you keep in mind that your behavior behind the wheel has the biggest impact on your MPG, you can realize some sizable savings.
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