To complement his story on 'hypermiler' drivers, reporter Mark Clayton has gathered a list of fuel-efficiency pointers from cleanmpg.com. Like most of the hypermiling handbook, these tips are a little nitpicky. But with gas prices soaring, these drivers say they'll do whatever it takes to squeeze the most out of every gallon.
IDLING: Don't idle your car – that's zero miles per gallon.
SPEED: Don't drive above the speed limit, and drive at the lower end of the limit on the highway. Wind resistance and mechanical drag increases dramatically above 60 miles per hour.
RIDGE RIDING: Driving on the far right side of the highway (practically on the white line) can give other drivers advance warning that there's a slower moving vehicle ahead.
OILS: Carefully select the right viscosity oil (see the cleanmpg.com website for suggestions). Consider using a synthetic oil.
PRE-PLANNING: Don’t even turn on the car until ensuring that you have a clear path that will avoid idling behind groups of cars – such as at the exit of a large parking lot. On errands, take fewer, longer trips instead of several short trips. Engines run more efficiently when they're fully warmed up.
Such basic steps sound obvious, but are not that easy to take given the intense peer pressure on the road, including bumper riders constantly pushing other drivers to go faster.
Wayne Gerdes, king of the hypermilers and head of cleanmpg.com, details “Advanced Hypermiling Techniques” on his website. But Mr. Gerdes says that he does not personally advocate the FAS or “Forced Auto Stop” technique, which involves shutting the engine off while coasting to a stop, and sometimes while driving down the road. While saving gas, this results in diminished steering and braking ability. Shutting off the ignition while traveling down the road is also illegal in some states.
Gerdes also notes a practice he calls "surf drafting" trucks – not directly behind them, which he says is dangerous and a bad idea – but rather off in the neighboring lane to the side and behind. Real hypermilers also will pinch a few extra miles from a gallon of gas by keeping windows rolled up even on a summer day (less drag) – and no air conditioning to lessen load on the engine.
Mostly, though, hypermiling is all about thinking ahead, which Gerdes says makes for safer driving and avoids unnecessary acceleration and braking alone, which can cut fuel by a third on the highway and 5 percent in the city, he says.