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Hypermiling to save fuel


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Driving style and technology affects gas mileage


After an article published by cnnmoney.com, Web sites are springing up with tips on saving fuel in a dramatic amount and consumers are jumping on a bandwagon to beat the costs at the pump.

The technique is known as 'hypermiling,' and its proponents claim it can double gas mileage, even in gas-guzzling vehicles that would normally get less than 20 mpg. The main factor in increasing fuel savings is paying attention to your right foot and how often you put it down on the accelerator in your vehicle.  Web site statistics claim that drivers can save up to 35% by being more conservative with how quickly they accelerate and slow down, and how hard they use the gas and brake pedals.

While studies show that using the air conditioning vs. rolling down the car windows has little to no effect on improving gas mileage, some claim that keeping the tires inflated beyond the maximum ratings recommended and using engine oil of a low viscosity can make a measurable fuel mileage difference.  Drafting behind other vehicles on the highway, a technique used by semi truck drivers really does have a measurable effect on fuel mileage by reducing aerodynamic drag, provided that the vehicle you follow isn’t going too fast. Removing cargo racks on the outside of vehicles also helps reduce drag and improve fuel economy.

In a test by Edmunds.com with a Land Rover LR3 and a Ford Mustang, by using cruise control on the highway the Land Rover got almost 14 percent better mileage with cruise control set at 70 miles per hour, rather than cruising at driver-controlled speeds between 65 and 75 miles per hour. The Mustang’s mileage improved by 4.5 percent.  Cruise control use cuts down on speed changes, which use fuel inefficiently.

The biggest gain in fuel efficiency results from slowly accelerating away from traffic lights and stops, and by slowing down gradually with your foot off the accelerator when approaching a stop sign or a red or yellow traffic light.  Just by slower acceleration and slow-downs with the foot off the accelerator, the Land Rover’s gas mileage increased by 35.4 percent and the Mustang’s 27.1 percent in the Edmunds.com tests.

Hypermiling is about driving conservatively and allowing your vehicle to coast when it can to save fuel. Studies claim that some drivers have doubled their fuel mileage by simply modifying their driving habits.  With fuel prices hitting $4.00/gallon in the U.S. and no end to the price increases in sight this is worth some consideration.

Read more here.

Last modified on 01 May 2008
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