When people talk about saving money they always think of cutting expenses but never focus on how they drive. Learning how to use certain driving techniques, called “Hypermiling,” can drastically save you hundreds of dollars every year. Hypermiling is defined as a “method of increasing your car’s gas mileage by making skillful changes in the way you drive.” When I hypermile I get 10 – 15 more miles to the gallon, drastically saving me a lot of money in the long run. Here are some brief techniques that will get you more miles per gallon (MPG) and save you a lot of money in the long run.
1. Are your tires completely filled?
Not only does checking your tire’s air pressure monthly increase safety but it also can get you better MPG. Based off tests this only has a small effect on your MPG but everything makes a difference.
2. Record your MPG
Everyone drives differently and as a result some of these techniques will work better for some people than others. By constantly keeping track of your MPG you will learn which techniques really help you save more money than others – especially cause certain techniques work better than others depending on your vehicle.
3. Keep space between you and the car in front of you
By keeping at least 2 seconds of time between you and the car in front of you your MPG will drastically increase. The average driver brakes between 10-25 percent more than they actually have to. The constant Yo-Yo effect of going and then aggressively stopping is huge in decreasing your MPG and a lot of that comes from constantly being directly behind the car in front of you.
Coasting is where you take your foot off the accelerator and letting your car continue moving off the momentum it has already built up. The first step to coasting is to do it at traffic lights and stop signs. At any point while driving if you can tell up ahead that you have to stop instantly take your foot off the gas pedal. You make zero MPG while stopped so you want to gradually come to a stop (or maybe not even stop at all) – if you absolutely have to stop then gradually put more and more force on the brake until stopped. Once you get good at coasting you can use it not in just situations where you have to stop but where your momentum and keep you going enough for a period of time (a hill is a perfect example) – you will be very surprised how far your car can travel after taking your foot off the gas pedal.
5. Gas Card
It’s not a bad idea to get a Gas Card – not only will this help your credit, but you can get a ton of deals and discounts while using it. Remember: If you’re not smart with your finances, a credit card will hurt you more than help out (this is how they make money!). Only get a Gas Card if you’re truly certain you can pay it off and not gain tons of interest.
6. Understanding Traffic
It is no surprise that Traffic is one of the worst things for your MPG because of the constant starting and stopping. In William Beaty’s “Anti-Traffic” experiment he noticed that the easiest way to deal with traffic was to go at the average speed of the traffic. In doing so he caused his lane to go an average 35 MPH and not have the constant stop-start. His experiment is extremely interesting and for anyone who is going to be in traffic (which I would assume is everyone) it is something that can definitely make it easier to deal with. Check it out: Anti-Traffic.
7. Under 60 MPH
The average car’s optimal fuel efficiency is around 45 – 60 MPH; however, every 5 MPH over 60 MPH reduces your fuel efficiency by 10 percent. Driving slower will not only save you money by reducing MPG but will also save you money by not being pulled over and potentially getting a speeding ticket (but if you happened to get pulled over use these techniques to get out of a speeding ticket: Beating A Speeding Ticket).
8. Don’t Yo-Yo
This was briefly mentioned above and is probably one of the biggest things effecting your MPG. The violent stopping and starting is the worst thing for your MPG and learning to gradually come to a stop rather than aggressively is huge. In addition, after being stopped don’t forget to gradually accelerate rather than stepping on the gas pedal to move as quick as possible. The more you can make your driving smooth the more you will increase your MPG.
9. Use Cruise Control
Using cruise control (especially on the highway) is an easy and effective way to make your driving more smooth. A lot of cruise controls also have a part of them that will cause gradual acceleration and this is another way to smoothly accelerate rather than violently. Just always remember to be conscientious of having your foot on the brake just in case you have to stop (don’t let your foot completely relax).
10. AC vs. Windows
The biggest thing for AC vs. Windows is that when your on the highway use AC because having the windows down creates air resistance and decreases MPG but while driving in the city this is the opposite (roll the windows down rather than using AC).
11. Find where the cheapest gas prices are
Last but not least, head to a gas station that has the cheapest gas in your area. With apps like Gas Guru you can see where the cheapest prices are in a given radius. Remember though: It doesn’t make any sense to drive 10 miles to only save a cent on gas.