Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tuesday Tip: 5 Ways to Maximize Your Mileage

Heard of hypermiling? It's the process of using every tip, trick, and technique available to maximize the fuel efficiency of your vehicle. There are enthusiasts out there who take it to the extreme, finding any way possible to see gains in their fuel MPG. Take for example, in 2008, when a driver hit 136 MPG in his Toyota Prius II, during the World Fuel Economy Championships in Elkhart, Indiana.

While the methods used to hit that number involve perfect road conditions and extreme modifications (such as over-inflating tires to potentially unsafe levels), there are still simple solutions you can take to get the best mileage out of your car, and save money on fuel costs each year. Check out our five tips below:


1. Coasting
Drivers hit the brakes 10 to 25% more of the time than they need to, when they could be coasting instead! Coasting is the process of lifting your foot off of the accelerator and allowing your vehicle to slow decelerate, without actually hitting your brakes. The best way to take advantage of this is to give yourself plenty of distance between the vehicle in front of you, approximately a two second buffer. When the vehicle in front starts to brake, you can coast to slow down, which will reduce the amount of energy required to start accelerating again.

2. Minimize idling
What kind of MPG do you get while idling? If you guessed zero, you'd be correct! The longer your car sits still doing nothing, the more fuel you'll burn. If you see a red light ahead, start coasting in advance so that you aren't just driving up to the light and then braking to a stop. You want to control the amount of braking that is used to regenerate energy to the batteries. Also, by going easy on the brakes, there is a chance the red light will simply turn green by the time you get to it!

3. Drive within 5 mph of the posted speed limit
Not only will this tip improve your gas mileage, it will also reduce the chance you'll have trouble with law enforcement! Generally, driving between 55-60 mph tends to be the sweet spot for the best highway gas mileage. Faster speeds (70+) increase aerodynamic drag, forcing your car to burn more gasoline in order to compensate for the added resistance. According to the Department of Energy, driving at 80 mph is equivalent to adding roughly .80/gallon to the price of your fuel versus driving at 60 mph!

4. Slowly accelerate from a complete stop
Driving a vehicle with an automatic transmission? When the light turns green, or you finish coming to a halt at a stop sign, give your car a second to start naturally accelerating (without you touching the gas pedal). It takes more energy for an object that is not in motion to gain energy, whereas an object already in motion will have an easier time gaining speed. Just remember to not try this tip if you're already stopped on a hill.

5. Don't overdo it on AC and defrost
The heater in your car works by redirecting heat produced by the engine that would have normally just been sent to your radiator. Using it won't have a noticeable affect on your mileage. However, when it's hot outside, running the air conditioner does require fuel, and can impact your mileage by 10-20% depending on the age and make of your car. Don't give up your air conditioning entirely, but just don't blast it on the "MAX" setting constantly, and you should be fine.
Keep in mind that during winter, the defrost on your car also requires energy. This is because the AC compressor runs simultaneously with your car's heater to remove moisture from the air. Use the defrost sparingly rather than leaving it on constantly, and you'll help improve your car's fuel efficiency.

What other tips and techniques do you utilize to get better MPG out of your car?

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