Hypermiling: Save Gas and Cut Fuel Costs

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How to Save on Fuel

1. Check prices with websites and mobile apps.

Is your local station charging too much? The only way to know is to comparison shop gas stations. Gaspricewatch.com or numerous different mobile applications make it easy to find gas stations that have the best deals.

2. Pay for convenience, or save.

The first gas station is usually the most expensive. When you enter a town, don’t go for the first station unless it’s the only one. Stations on the outskirts of town almost always charge more for gas.

3. There’s a right time to fill up.

Wednesdays are typically the best time to fill up, because prices are usually at their lowest. Gas prices are usually highest on weekends when the most people are out on the road.

Hypermiling Techniques: Save Gas and Cut Fuel Costs

  • Use the lowest-octane called for in your owner's manual.
  • Take advantage of credit card deals. Some credit cards offer gas savings when you use the card. Others offer discounts when you have a membership. My grocery store offers 15 cents off. When I don’t shop at Sam’s Club or Costco, I always take advantage of other gas deals like these.
  • Lose that extra weight. Are you carrying unnecessary items in your vehicle? Extra weight reduces mileage.
  • Keep your tailgate up. Drag or resistance results in decreased fuel economy. Many people and different sites suggest putting your truck's tailgate down in an effort to reduce resistance and increase fuel economy. Studies suggest this simply isn't good advice. Engineers have found that wind resistance is actually lower when the tailgate is up. When the tailgate is up, stagnant air is formed in the bed of the truck. This stagnant air results in better aerodynamics. Lowering the tailgate, according to these studies, leads to increased wind resistance. If you want better mileage, keep the tailgate up.
  • Turn off all electronics before starting your car. Some sources say that starting your car with electronic devices on puts a strain on your engine and results in worse mileage. These devices include but are not limited to your radio and your air conditioning.
  • Don’t warm up your car. If you have a car that is relatively new, don’t waste gas by excessively warming it up. New cars, need only about thirty seconds to warm up. Anything more than that is a waste of time and money. Obviously, older cars, about 20 years old or older, need more time to properly warm up.
  • Drive at one speed. Needlessly slowing down or speeding up wastes fuel. Maintain a steady pace.
  • Don’t drive too fast. If you have a tachometer, use it to determine the speed at which your engine works the least. My car’s highway “sweet spot” is at about sixty-five miles per hour. That’s the speed at which my car shifts into fifth gear and revs the least. This is the speed at which I drive on the highway, when possible. By doing this, I use far less gas.
  • Brake less. A car consumes a lot more gas when it accelerates. Use the brakes less by rolling to a stop at red lights and stop signs. Avoid hard stops when possible. This causes excessive wear on your brakes and ends up using a lot more gas when you accelerate.
  • Keep your driving steady. The more you weave or turn, the worse your mileage will be.
  • Keep your pace steady up hills. Accelerating up a hill causes a significant drop in mileage. Imagine trying to pedal a bike faster up a hill. Remember that cruise control saves money most of the time, but it costs more when trying to maintain speeds up a hill. For that reason, only use cruise control in flat areas.
  • Don’t drive like a sixteen year old boy in a Corvette. Eliminate fast starts, because it guzzles fuel and decreases your mileage. It also causes a lot of wear on your car.
  • Open your windows instead of using the air conditioner. Air conditioners definitely decrease your mileage, typically between 10 to 20 percent. Opening a window does very little, despite what other sites claim, to decrease mileage. No significant studies support the claim that open windows increase drag and decrease fuel efficiency. We all know that an open window can do a lot to cool your car though.
  • Turn off your car if you have to wait for two or more minutes. Don’t do this in traffic though. By doing this, you’ll save fuel.
  • Use overdrive when possible. This makes your engine work less and saves fuel.

Save Gas, Cut Fuel Costs: Expert Money Saving

Save Gas and Cut Fuel Costs

You can save over a $500 a year on gas by maintaining your vehicle. Fixing a car that is out of tune will boost your mileage. Remember that twenty percent of all cars produce eighty percent of the pollution, and it’s not always the old cars that are the worst polluters. Poorly tuned vehicles, regardless of the age of the car, tend to pollute more. Here are the top ways to save money by keeping your car in good working order:

  • Watch for worn spark plugs and spark plug wires.
  • Keep your air filter clean. Replacing a clogged air filter can often improve mileage by as much as 10 percent. That’s a lot! Consider using a K&N filter. Yes, they are initially expensive, but the fuel savings will be well worth the extra money if you plan on keeping your car for three or more years.
  • Use the recommended grade of oil for your car. Opt for oil that says it is “energy conserving”. Using the wrong viscosity oil, particularly one that is too thick, can decrease mileage.
  • Never let your car run dangerously close to running out of gas.When you do this, you allow the debris at the bottom of the tank to become lodged in your fuel filter. This can decrease mileage and end up costing a lot of money, because some filters cost hundreds of dollars to replace. Yes, I know that some sites recommend the opposite. They suggest that you wait until you car is almost empty before refueling. By doing this, they say, you will save money, because you are hauling less weight. This is true, but can be ultimately more costly because of decreased fuel flow caused by a clogged fuel filter.
  • Maintain the proper air pressure in your tires. Have you ever tried to ride a bike with flat tires? It’s pretty hard to do. Your car has to expend more effort when your tires don’t have enough air. Putting too much air in your tires is just as bad, because it can reduce traction, result in tire ruptures, or wear out the center of the tire tread. Typically, most car tires run about 32-35 pounds of pressure,when cold, but people who are hypermiling tend to run far heavier pressure. Truck and trailer tires are different, because they are rated for hauling. If you are unsure what your tire pressure should be, look at the side of the tire. It will tell you the maximum cold-temperature pressure. My tire says 44 psi (pounds per square inch), so I run about 40, unless I really want to increase mileage by hypermiling. Then, I usually run the full amount, 44 psi. Typically, however, I always run a little less than the maximum, because I'm not putting a lot of weight in my car. The load is small. If you are unsure about tire pressures, consult a reputable tire dealer for advice.
  • Tires should be periodically balanced, rotated and aligned. This will significantly increase the useful life of your tires.

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How do you save gas? 2 comments

Christofoo 4 years ago

Hi arizonataylor,

I always enjoy finding others who are trying to improve their gas mileage with practical techniques.

However, I wanted to nit-pick a few of your points :)

Weight doesn't necessarily penalize mileage. In the limit of high tire pressure and on long trips (very low rolling resistance and very little breaking) it has no effect. In stop-and-go traffic, if you don't plan your stops well, and at low tire pressure and with larger tires, it can be a big penalty.

Electronics, stereos and fans, are only important if they are high wattage (like 500W). Hypothetically, when drawing 50hp while cruising (my Civic at 75MPH), 50hp=37kW. Assuming 70% alternator efficiency, a 100W stereo would be 0.3% of the total engine load. A 500W stereo would be 1.4%.

Open windows are generally worse than the air conditioner at freeway speeds, but better at lower speeds, thought it may depend on the vehicle. I have a scangauge in my Civic and I can analyze the effect directly. Freeway speed: AC=10%, open windows=20%. City traffic: AC=30%, open windows=5% or less.

I turn off my car in traffic. Personal choice. I don't turn it off at night when the headlights will run the battery down. There is a fuel penalty for restarting, but the break-even point is in the 5-10 second neighborhood.

Accelerating up hills depends on the car, I would say generally that automatics would be penalized for downshifting. Variable displacement engines may also be penalized, not sure. Definitely my manual 4-cylinder is just as efficient at the top of the powerband as in the middle, for a given RPM. The bottom line is that the fuel expenditure is utilized efficiently in kinetic and potential energy, the net result is equal MPG (except for effects of air drag), unless I use the breaks on the back end of the hill, in which case the kinetic and potential energy are wasted. It is often a good idea to crest a hill at reduced speed if the downhill is steep enough to require breaking (or low-throttle engine drag, which is the same or worse than breaking).

The same arguments apply to jack-rabbit starting. Automatics are penalized for downshifting (again not sure about variable displacement engines), but for a manual 4-cylinder there is no fundamental efficiency penalty for high throttle positions at low RPMs, unless the kinetic or potential energy gained is subsequently thrown away. I can bolt pretty hard in my car without affecting mileage.

Cheers,

Chris


arizonataylor profile image

arizonataylor 4 years ago from Arizona Author

Chris,

I appreciate your comment. I particularly enjoyed the part about high-wattage devices. That was really good information, and I must admit that it's new to me. It appears I need to update my article a bit.

Best wishes.

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