Hypermiling

Car Busters 37, Feb - Apr 2009

Jean McDougall wrote to ask CarBusters to offer content for drivers who have no choice. I recommend hypermiling - i.e.maximising fuel efficiency. This helps drivers to cut fuel costs and be safer. Plus it aids society and the planet by minimising waste and pollution.

Begin by planning routes in advance. Go in the smallest, lightest vehicle available. Avoid idling and set off immediately.

A fundamental is to drive gently - don't get on the brakes all the time and don't floor the accelerator. Generally hypermilers go at the speed limit. Jack Martin who won this years "Tour to the Shore" contest in New Jersey got 124.6 miles per gallon (1.89l/100km) from a Honda Insight. He said, (in a New Scientist article this October) "When a vehicle goes by, you feel it initially suck on you a little bit and then push you. If you're sensitive to that, you can work itů it's nonsensical to try to be too slow because then you're just fighting that wall of air as it goes past you". So, look ahead. Don't multitask but keep your concentration on anticipating conditions and stopping in time.

Keep excess weight down - for instance don't fill up the tank more than is needed and remove roof racks, trailers or whatever is unnecessarily in the boot. If you need to use a roof rack, try an aerodynamic box type. An empty roof rack adds 10%+ to fuel bills.

Try air vents before opening windows, windows before sun roofs. Turn off air conditioning which uses an average 15% more fuel. Automatic transmission adds 10-15% to fuel bills.

For a car to breathe Martin says "tyres must be inflated to their maximum rated pressure" and "car filters be clean". A 7psi under inflation wastes half a gallon per tank. Regular servicing improves tuning. Park in the shade to cut fuel loss due to evaporation.

Martin advises that the best way to raise fuel efficiency is with a feedback system. A scan gauge that costs about $130 says how many miles you get to the gallon. "If your foot taps a little too hard you can see miles per gallon drop". Most hypermilers drive barefoot to feel the resistance on the accelerator. By watching the resistance and the miles per gallon on the scan, it's possible to work out what behaviours improve mileage. For instance, roads have little valleys and ridges formed by many tyres. Ride the ridges to get better mileage especially if it's been raining and the valleys have puddles.

Averaging 50 miles per gallon (4.7l/100km) could cut oil usage in half on US highways.

Anna Semlyen wrote Cutting Your Car Use www.cuttingyourcaruse.co.uk. We are actively looking for publishers and authors in other countries (except North America). Email john@greenbooks.co.uk

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