Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's a mad, mad max world (tips on SAVING GAS!).

Sometimes I procrastinate on refilling my gas tank, so when I get close to the 'E', I start hypermiling - a cost-efficient way of driving to save gas! It includes the use of coasting, slowing down on highways to that "sweet spot" of 55 mph, the most fuel-efficient speed, accelerating slowly, etc. On my Honda Fit, it's gotten me pretty far in times of need- but now, because of the gas shortage in the Atlanta area, I'd made a permanent conscious effort to change the way I drive.

I've taken these steps in hypermiling from ehow, but I've edited some of them because some steps are actually kind of dangerous (like shutting of your car when you're driving, that's too crazy!)!

1. When you go above 38 mph in most cars, you lose mileage. For every 5 mph above 55, you can lose as much as 10 percent of your fuel economy. So slowing down can save you gas. Drive the speed limit.

Driving without brakes or in hypermiling lingo,d.w.b. is all about coasting. You need to maintain a constant speed and not let it get ahead of you when you are driving in traffic, so that when traffic starts to slow back down you'll catch up. This can be tricky as in a lot of cases when ever you allow distance between you and another car, another car will take advantage of it and cut in front of you.

Do it when possible -- but be careful.

Avoid big hills and stop-and-go traffic by trying different route because a longer route may have better driving conditions and less traffic which uses less gas. Also, changing your work schedule 30 minutes to half an hour can mean less traffic. Try working out at a gym next to your job and then driving home. Test different routes to see which is the smoothest ride.

Scheduled oil changes result in better fuel economy because as the oil gets older thus thicker it is harder to push through the engine.

Traffic lights are the biggest cause of you using gas while idling. If you see a red light in front of you, take your foot off the gas and let your car coast up to it. Hypermilers practice riding the "waves and jams" caused by congestion to minimize time accelerating, decelerating, and sitting stopped. When you can turn off your car, like when you are waiting to pick up someone, or in your car in line, like at the bank or drive through, turn off your engine to save gas.

Accelerate slowly. The longer you take to achieve a speed, the less fuel it will require to get there. In many cars, using cruise control to slowly approach the desired speed will help regulate accelerations. A rule of thumb is to press down the accelerator an inch at a time.

Using cruise control on the highway, though, really does have a noticeable effect on fuel economy. In's test using a Land Rover LR3 and a Ford Mustang, the Land Rover got almost 14 percent better mileage using cruise control set at 70 miles per hour rather than cruising at driver-controlled speeds between 65 and 75 miles per hour. The Mustang got 4.5 percent better mileage.

Using cruise control cuts down on unnecessary speed changes which can eat up gas and it prevents "speed creep." the tendency for a driver's average speed to gradually increase with time spent on the road.

If you want the biggest gain in fuel mileage, you need to lay off the pedals when driving around town. Accelerating more slowly away from green lights and stopping more gradually for red lights cut fuel consumption in's tests by 35.4 percent for the Land Rover and 27.1 percent for the Mustang.

Slamming down the gas pedal pushes more fuel into the engine while it also keeps the engine running faster.

Tips & Warnings

Tests have proven that turning off your air conditioner or inflating your tires has little effect on saving gas.

Say your car gets about 22 miles per gallon. By adopting a laid-back driving style you should soon realize 30 percent more in fuel mileage, which means an increase to about 30 miles per gallon

To learn more about hypermiling, click here for more resources and articles. Happy fuel-efficient driving!

~Jenny Bunns

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