Beat the Summer Gas Crunch - Hypermiling Techniques

If done properly, the average driver can beat the Transport Canada Combined Fuel Consumption Rating (CFCR) of his or her vehicle by 40-50% this summer by applying a few simple hypermilling techniques.

Tire pressure
You’ve heard this one before. Higher tire pressure means lower rolling resistance, better fuel economy, and longer life. Installers will usually under inflate tires for a more comfortable ride, but it is practical to inflate tires closer to the maximum rating found on the sidewalls. Service your tires regularly and ask your mechanic to use nitrogen instead of air. Nitrogen is lighter than air, leaks less than air, prohibits rust, and has added safety and mechanical benefits making it a smart alternative. Nitrogen is available at Canadian Tire and is free at Cosco service centers in Canada.

Tuned engine and mechanical parts
A poorly tuned engine can result in a 40% decline in fuel economy and can produce significantly more emissions than allowed by law. Reducing friction and vibration can be the most important aspect of your fuel economy. Have unusual noises checked out. A well oiled machine runs efficiently and if left un-serviced, builds up friction forces reducing efficiency. Use synthetic oil when possible to reduce engine wear and pollution. Maintain the engine’s air filters regularly by shaking or vacuuming out particles.

Trim the fat
Carrying unnecessary loads around adds up. Reducing your load by 100lbs can reduce your fuel costs by 2%. Clean out the trunk, remove roof racks, and any other items not being used. Consider keeping the fuel tank half full and if you’re the only person driving your car think about removing back seats, plastic covers, and whatever else you don’t actually need as a next step.

Accelerate slowly
Tests by Edmonds.com show accelerating from 0 to 60 in 20 seconds from stoplights and stop signs can cut fuel consumption by around 37% for SUVs. You won’t win any drag races, but that’s plenty of time to enter freeways and highways without incident.

Practice smart braking
More energy is required to get your car moving from a dead stop than to sustain motion so a big challenge for hyper-milers is learning how to avoid stops. Let off the gas ahead of stops and let your car role in neutral, only applying the brakes as needed. At red lights, leave the car in neutral (if it has an automatic transmission). At stop signs, try not to come to a dead stop, but let the car creep along, until it’s safe to continue.

Follow the leader
The reason is aerodynamic: a flow of traffic generates a localized wind current in the direction of travel. You will benefit from this artificial breeze. Drive at a steady pace and don’t tailgate.

Cruise control
Contrary to popular belief, cruise control is less efficient than constant throttle/load driving techniques where you manually tweak the accelerator. Set the cruise control if your speed creeps up on long trips or you have difficulty holding a constant speed.

Don't idle unnecessarily
If you’re stopped for more than 7-seconds, turn the engine off. Today’s fuel injection systems are efficient, typically using about 5 seconds of fuel to start the engine. You may not make friends with the guy behind you at the drive-through, but try not re-starting the engine until you absolutely have to.

Air conditioning
The air conditioner increases fuel consumption by more than 20%. Consider rolling the windows down or using solar powered air vents. If you have to use the air conditioner, set the vehicle’s air flow to recirculation, switch it on when under light engine loads or deceleration, and off when under moderate or heavy loads.

Hold the inside lane
Holding the inside lane around long curved sections of freeway can make a difference over the long haul. By taking the shortest route around curves you will shave about 1% off the travel distance on a three lane highway each time, which adds up over the life of your vehicle.

And then there are always the old fashioned ways to save money on gas like carpooling and using public transit. Don’t forget those either!

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