Hypermiling is the art of driving economically and exceeding vehicle manufacturers stated efficiency by modifying driving habits and techniques.
The word Hypermiling was added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2008, they named it “word of the year”.
The term Hypermiling was originally coined by Wayne Gerdes who is considered by many in the Hypermiling Community as the “father of Hypermiling” Hypermiling is a great way to save on fuel costs and aides safer motoring. These techniques could help reduce your fuel usage and costs by up to 40% percent and I personally have seen a 35 – 40 percent increase in my MPG by using the techniques and tips below. See my Hypermiling Blog to view my experiences of Hypermiling.
Before we start with Hypermiling Techniques I would like to address the safety issue that is getting “Hypermilers” a lot of bad press. Hypermiling, as with any other form of driving technique, can be dangerous if used on the wrong road and in unsuitable traffic conditions. Please always be aware of other road users and do not endanger yourself or others for the sake of saving a few miles per gallon.
We encourage safe and considerate driving. Please read our Contact Us page for legal details.
Hypermiling is a great way to help improve your fuel consumption and there are also some other ways to help maximise your Hypermiling Techniques before even considering your driving style. We suggest you:
- Track your MPG. Keep detailed records of your mileage and fuel usage so you can gauge your hypermiling efforts. Use our MPG calculator or download our apps for both Apple and Android devices.
- Keep your car well maintained and serviced regularly. Some people opt for a thinner oil when trying to optimise their MPG. Thinner oil means less energy is required to turn the engine.
- Remove excess weight i.e. golf clubs, tool boxes and prams / push chairs.
- Ensure your tyre pressures are correct. We do not condone over inflating your tyres, as this may cause premature wear and possible blow outs. Low tyre pressure causes more drag and thus less MPG.
- Keep the windows up. An open window cause drag
- Keep the air-con off. Air Conditioning can decrease your fuel consumption by up to 10 percent in some cases.
- Take any unused Roof or bike racks off, they too increase drag
- Don’t drive in big shoes, they take away the sensitivity you need with the throttle. The best way to Hypermile is to feel how the car is responding to your right foot. Two inches of sole doesn’t help.
Common Hypermiling Terms
- FE – Fuel Economy
- DWB – Driving without brakes
- FAS – Forced auto stop, basically coasting with the engine off
- P&G – Pulse and Glide
- ICE – Internal Combustion Engine
- D-FAS – Draft-Assisted FAS. Coasting with engine off while drafting (again bad)
Click for more common hypermiling and fuel saving abbreviations
- Don’t drive The best Hypermiling Tip that we could ever give. This not only saves you 100 percent of your precious fuel but it also keeps you healthier and saves on vehicle maintenance. Short journeys use much more fuel than longer ones. You engine doesn’t have time to get up to it’s optimal working temperature thus causing increased engine wear.
- Drive defensively. Anticipate the road ahead. By driving “reactively” You effectively hand control over your fuel consumption (and safety) to other drivers. Look well ahead so you’re aware of what you’re driving into and can anticipate changes before they occur. And in order to be able to see well ahead, you need to leave adequate following distance to the vehicle(s) in front of you.
- Drive without brakes (DWB). Every time you brake you effectively turn fuel into heat & brake dust. This type of deceleration maximises uses your car’s stored momentum and energy.
- Slow down! The faster you go the more drag and resistance is placed upon your trusty steed. A reduction of 20mph can increase your MPG by up to 45 percent.
- Coasting. Shutting the engine down when stopped or while coasting to stop/turn is one of the main reasons for hybrid vehicles’ excellent city fuel consumption. We would not ever suggest coasting with the engine off but simply remove your foot from the accelerator when approaching a junction or red light. A modern engine uses no fuel at all when coasting in ger.
Read more about coasting in our Hypermiling 101 dedicated to coasting techniques.
How to Hypermile
High concentration is the key to becoming a successful Hypermiler, I would even go as far to say that it requires more concentration to Hypermile effectively than to drive fast. Not only will lack of concentration keep you from getting the very most out of every drop of fuel it puts both yourself and others at risk. We suggest you:
- Switch OFF your mobile
- Turn off the radio
- Ask your passengers to keep noise to a minimum
- Keep conversation with passengers to a minimum
These ideas may seem quite harsh but you will be surprised how quickly your Hypermiling efforts are thwarted when your mind is elsewhere.
Even without Hypermiling there is a great way of using less fuel, you guessed it… drive less! This could include:
- Using Public Transport
- Car / lift sharing (also see slugging below)
- Walking, biking or maybe running (hard work I know!)
- Move closer to your work
“Slugging”, “Instant Carpooling” or “Casual Carpooling” is a term from the USA, it involves the creation of free, unofficial ad-hoc carpool networks, often complete with published routes and pick-up and drop-off locations. During rush hour, sluggers either drive to park and ride-like facilities, free parking lots for carpoolers, or take public transport to bus stops and metro stations with lines of sluggers. Drivers pull up to the queue for the route they will follow and either display a sign or call out the designated drop-off point they are willing to drive to and how many passengers they can take. Enough riders step forward to fill the car and the driver departs. There are a number of unofficial rules to the arrangement. A major advantage of slugging is that the car, carrying or passengers will be permitted to drive on high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes only available to drivers with three other passengers.
Using Hypermiling Techniques will help you maximise the return from your tank ensuring you get the best price for what you put in it. Check out PetrolPrices.com for the best prices in your area. This saves running about town looking for the best deal.
Keep an eye out for fuel vouchers and discounts from supermarkets. Many offer discounts of up to 5p a litre when you spend a certain amount in store. Just be sure that you are buying things you need and not just spending to qualify for the voucher. 5p of a litre will save you £2.50 from an average 50 litre fill up.
Chose the right route
The shortest and quickest way might not always be the best when you are trying to Hypermile. Hypermiling is all about driving smoothly and when you are stuck in traffic or having to stop start about town you are NOT driving smoothly. Taking a less uninterrupted route, it might take slightly longer but you wont have the start / stopping effecting your MPG
If like me you are faced with the common problem of railway crossings and dithering folk that hold up a queue of traffic at a junction you should switch off your engine as soon as possible. When you are idling you are doing ZERO MPG. While idling you also run the risk of overheating your engine. Idling for any more than 10 seconds is a waste of fuel.
When parking don’t opt for the closest space to the front of the shops, not only will you have to waste fuel looking for the elusive “prime” spot. But very often you will have a car parked in front of you meaning you will need a lengthy manoeuvre just to get out. Try parking away from the crowds in a forward facing spot – also known as “face out”. That way you can just start up and drive off. Also try and pick a spot on a slight hill so you can utilise the gravity of the car rolling down. If possible try and park in a shady spot, in the summer months it make not using the air conditioning a lot easier! Also consider your parking in the winter months. Face your car into the morning sun to help defrost your windscreen or even better get a plastic sheet to put over it to help stop any ice forming. I often see people leaving their cars running for long periods of time just to defrost their glass. It also saves buying de-icer.
Keeping on top of your vehicle servicing is a must for any motorist to ensure it performs at its optimum efficiency. Using engine oil of a low viscosity (but still within your manufactures recommended oil requirements) can not only improve your MPG but also increase the longevity of your engine. Thinner oil reduces friction of the engine components. Many Hypermilers opt for a high grade fully synthetic oil to help maximise economy.
During the cold months there are a number of reasons why our cars use more fuel. These can have a major effect on your cars MPG and cause more wear and tear on the engine. Some claim that the cold can reduce your MPG by over half. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Snow, ice, rain, grit and other muck on the roads make a car work harder to keep moving.
- The cold reduces the air pressure in tyres, leading to more wasted fuel.
- Cold air is denser than warm air, which is why cold draughts spill down from a draughty window. That puts more aerodynamic drag on a vehicle, which means it has to push harder to get through the air, especially at high speed.
- Engine and transmission oil is thicker in low temperatures, it takes more energy to turn the engine.
To help minimize the cold weather’s effect on your precious fuel we suggest:
- Reduce idling: Use your Garage (if you have one) or cover your windscreen up over night to ensure an ice free morning.
- Park into the sun: If you don’t have a garage or windscreen cover – Let the sun de-ice your windscreen instead of idling until your heaters slowly thaw it.
- Take off the snow: It may look pretty but snow not only weighs a far bit but also increases drag.
- Set your alarm clock ten minutes earlier! Give yourself extra time so if clearing the car takes longer than anticipated, you don’t feel compelled to “make up time” on the road to avoid being late.
Remember to ensure you always have a warm jacket in the car when travelling in the cold weather. Having to wait for the AA for over an hour in the snow is not enjoyable. Trust me… I know!
Summer Hypermiling Tips
In the summer months (or days in the UK) – heat is you enemy, and if you are anything like me driving in a hot car is something I despise. The instant reaction to a hot car is to open the windows or turn the aircon on. Both of these will cost you in terms of your MPG. Follow these tips to minimize the effects of the raging sun.
- Park in the shade. Use tree, buildings or what ever you can to stop the sun from cooking your interior.
- Use silver windscreen deflectors to divert away the sun if you have no shade
- If possible find a parking spot that will allow you to leave you windows open with out attracting undesirables to your valuables.
- Under 40MPH open windows cause very little drag, they are still a much better option than having the air conditioning on.
- If you simply must have the air condition on, set the mode to recirculating. This ensures that you are chilling the cool air already in your car and not having to cool the warmer air from out side.
- Hanging material such as towels in the rear windows is a great way of stopping those nasty rays from cooking you. It’s a blast from the past but very effective.
There are a number of Hypermiling gadgets that have been designed to assist you in not only monitoring your MPG but also watching how you drive. These devices often plug into the diagnostics port of the car and can access readings from sensors and the ECU. These include throttle position, air to fuel ratios and speed.There are also a number of iPhone apps such our very own MPG Calculator for IOS that helps you keep track of your fuel consumption. Manufacturers have also pushed to help you make the most of your fuel with the introduction of systems such as Honda’s Eco Assist feature its flagship Hybrid Insight.
Fuel additives work by improving the combustion in the engine by creating a finer fuel mist. While additives it may not offer the huge increases that other techniques give you but combine it with your newly learnt Hypermiling techniques and it could see you returning some very impressive results.
Why not see our product review of the Aderco Fuel Additive and read our experiences with such products.
For those of you who are lucky enough to drive a Hybrid car, see our Hybrid Hypermiling Techniques page. Just remember that many of the techniques on this page are still applicable to hybrids so make sure you also carry on reading below.
Click here or the Hybrid Hypermiling Techniques page
Advanced Hypermiling Techniques
There are 3 different types of coasting that can be adopted, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
In gear coasting
When in gear coasting, most modern engines use no fuel at all. The fuel injection system goes into fuel cut off mode and the forward momentum of the car is what keeps the engine turning over.
This is a great way of saving fuel buts its best suited to situations where you have to come to a standstill, like at a busy junction. Your coasting distanced are greatly reduced compared to neutral coasting due to engine braking but you use less fuel in the process.
As the vehicle remaining in gear, its seen as the safest form of coasting. It enabled you to be in full control of the car at all times.
To maintain idle revs fuel must be consumed. This is the biggest downside of this technique compare to in gear coasting, however on the upside – your coasting distances are greatly improved.
Due to the lack of engine braking, this technique is more suited to situations where deceleration needs to be minimised, like on a motorway. Many Hypermilers adopt it on hills to further increase the coasting distances with the possibility of adding a little speed too.
Engine off coasting (also called FAS Forced Auto stop)
This technique involves turning the engine off while the car is still moving and rolling for as long as possible only using the cars momentum. This is a dangerous technique. It can effect braking and power steering performance. If you insist on using this technique, we would suggest you dip the clutch, turn off the engine (leaving the ignition on). This ensures the car can be started quickly by releasing the clutch.
This FAS technique also ensures that your true mileage is recorded. Many cars will still show the current driving speed with the ignition on and will not effect your estimated MPG if you are working it out with mileage vs litres used.
This is the same as FAS but involves drafting the vehicle in front to minimise wind / air resistance. This is even crazier than FAS, please do not attempt it.
Read more about coasting in our Hypermiling 101 dedicated to coasting techniques.
Drafting is used to reduce wind resistance and is used most commonly in bicycle racing, car racing, and speed skating. It simply means following the vehicle in front and sitting in their slip stream. Following other vehicles to the extent that some Hypermilers do is very dangerous and has caused a lot of bad press towards the Hypermiling Community. If you are going to adopt this technique we would recommend for your own and others safety that you only follow the vehicle in front with guidance from the highway code (the two second rule). This may not be as efficient as sitting on the vehicle in fronts bumper but Its still a very good way of helping increase your MPG. People have suggested that an increase of up to 40 percent is possible and until I saw the Mythbusters episode featuring drafting I was very skeptical about these claims. In true Mythbusters style, they have confirmed that drafting does work. Check our the Hypermiling Videos page to see the Mythbusters Drafting Episode.
This is a quite a new term to the Hypermiling scene and is a safety technique first and foremost. By positioning your car out of the “ridges” in the road caused by other vehicles it make you stand out to other road users. This technique has been primarily adopted by Hypermilers in the US.
Also check out our busy Hypermiling Forum for more advice and tips from other Hypermilers.