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Hypermiling

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Hypermiling is when the driver of a vehicle is careful to minimize the use of fuel and gain the most possible distance on a given amount of fuel. The 21st century has seen a drastic increase in fuel prices in most countries, leading many motorists to want to hypermile while driving. Hypermiling can be performed with any vehicle, regardless of its fuel efficiency, though it is easier with an automatic transmission. The typical hypermiler can realistically expect a 10-20% increase in fuel economy, though some of the most extreme hypermilers have reported getting 2-3 times the vehicle's rated level. Such extreme hypermiling is considered to be unsafe and should be avoided.

Some hypermiling techniques increase safety; others can be dangerous and should be avoided. This article compares various hypermiling techniques that have been used and whether or not they are worthwhile.

The basic principle behind hypermiling is that you attempt to move the vehicle as much as possible without using the pedals, and minimize the gas pedal's use altogether. On a flat surface, a vehicle with automatic transmission will move at slow speeds when a foot is on neither on the gas or brakes. Fuel is also wasted during braking, because fuel has already been used to give the vehicle the momentum it needs to move a certain speed and distance, but that has been lost when the vehicle has not been moved.

Hypermiling takes a lot of alertness behind the wheel. Paying attention to every moment of your driving and not driving on mental autopilot is important.

Useful techniques

Obey the speed limit

Higher speed driving uses increased amounts of fuel. Particularly if your speed exceeds 60 mph/100 kph, you are increasing the amount of fuel you use to travel a mile/kilometer. Exceeding the speed limit also increases the likelihood that a sudden stop may be required when traffic or road conditions require slower driving.

Use cruise control

Cruise control holds the vehicle at the same speed as best as it can (except when the vehicle is going down a steel hill). When driving without cruise control, and attempting to maintain a steady speed, you will find yourself driving above the speed at times and below it at others because it is hard to get the foot to stay in one position on the pedal for a long time. But cruise control can do just that for you, thereby making the best possible fuel efficiency.

Cruise control is useful when traveling along a road where frequent starting and stopping will not be necessary for a period of time, and where the speed will still the same. It should be disengaged while climbing a steep hill, since this process uses increased amounts of fuel. In most vehicles, cruise control does not work at speeds under 25 mph/40 kph.

Make gradual starts from a stopped position

More fuel is needed to start moving a vehicle from a stopped position due to inertia. It takes more energy (and therefore more fuel) to fight the inertia that is keeping a vehicle from accelerating to a high speed from a stopped position. It takes less such energy to increase the speed minimally. So when you slowly increase a vehicle's speed, you are reducing the amount of fuel required.

Make gradual stops

When you press on the brakes, fuel that is used for vehicle momentum already is wasted and will not accomplish any movement of the vehicle. In order to prevent this from happening, it is a good idea to take your foot off the gas pedal well in advance of a stop and let the vehicle slow down gradually.

Knowing a route is very helpful in accomplishing this. This way, you can predict the lights, traffic conditions, and other details of the patterns.

But if you have never driven somewhere before, stare ahead and try to best anticipate what is coming up.

What not to do

  • Run red lights or stop signs to avoid making a stop - This is illegal and extremely dangerous. Even if the area where you are has little traffic, and running one will not likely result in you violating someone else's right of way, there may still be a vehicle you may not notice coming out of a spot you cannot see. And there may also be a police officer hiding somewhere waiting for the next motorist to commit such a violation.
  • Turn the engine off while stopped at a red light - If you turn on the engine the moment the light turns green, it'll take several seconds before you actually are able to start moving the vehicle. Meanwhile, vehicles behind you will be pressuring you to go. There will be so much pressure that you will need to slam on the gas, thereby defeating the purpose of having turned off the engine altogether.
  • Turn the engine off while moving - This is extremely dangerous!!! When the engine is off, the vehicle loses its ability to steer and brake, functions that are commonly needed in a split-second's notice while driving, and the lack of the ability to use these functions could lead to an accident.

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