7 Hypermiling Tips to Help Improve Your Fuel Economy

man checking tire pressure

Making small adjustments to how you drive and maintain your car can help you slash lower your fuel consumption and improve your gas mileage.  These hypermiling tips may not only save you money at the pump; they can also help you become a safer driver and extend the life of your car.

1. Keep idling at a minimum

While you’re sitting at a drive-through or parked near the curb waiting to pick someone up, turn off the engine instead of keeping it idle. In a fuel economy test, Edmunds found that avoiding excessive idling can improve fuel economy by up to 19 percent.

2. Drive smoothly

Maintaining a consistent speed is a key to maximizing fuel efficiency. Avoid accelerating rapidly and slamming on the brakes by anticipating red lights, stop signs, traffic slowdowns and sharp curves.

3. Use a monitoring device

Improving your driving habits can be difficult, especially if you don’t know how your driving performance stacks up. SmartRide is a small device – available in some states – for your car that gives you personalized feedback about your driving trends that can help improve your fuel efficiency, such as the number of times you accelerate quickly or brake hard.

4. Check tire pressure at least monthly

Under-inflated tires can reduce fuel economy by up to 3 percentConsumer Reports suggests using a tire gauge to check your pressure at least once a month to make sure they’re set to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure, which can typically be found on glove compartment door or driver’s side door pillar.

5. Don’t carry unnecessary weight

Avoid carrying unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. 100 extra pounds of weight in your vehicle can reduce your gas mileage by up to 2 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Carry only the necessities, such as a few water bottles, a flashlight and other core emergency items.

6. Use the air conditioner sparingly

Operating the AC at maximum capacity can reduce gas mileage by approximately 5-25 percent, but leaving your windows down at high speeds can cause aerodynamic drag, which also reduces fuel efficiency. To stay cool, keep the AC off and the windows down in slow city or suburban driving. It’s better to turn the AC on when you’re driving at highway speeds.

7. Stay close to 60 miles per hour on the highway

Vehicles lose fuel economy at high speeds. When you’re on the highway, try to limit your speed to 60 miles per hour when this is within the posted speed limit and when conditions (weather and traffic) otherwise allow. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that every 5 miles over the 60 mph level is the equivalent to paying an additional 20 cents per gallon for gas.

  • Carl Wojo

    NO 6 is false!!!
    The Society of Automotive Engineers studied (PDF) this issue back in 2004, using both a wind tunnel and test track in Mesa, Ariz. The organization’s researchers looked at two vehicles, an SUV and a full-size sedan, both of which featured powerful eight-cylinder engines. (The tests were conducted at an average ambient temperature of approximately 86 degrees Fahrenheit.)

    The engineers found that rolling down the windows on the SUV had only a small negative effect, in part because the vehicle’s big, boxy shape was already creating a lot of drag. So, from a fuel-economy standpoint, a driver of an SUV will always do better to shut off the air-conditioner. The sedan, on the other hand, has a sleeker shape and a lower drag coefficient. As a result, its fuel economy was noticeably affected when the windows were rolled down at highway speeds; at around 68 miles per hour (the test’s maximum), there was barely any difference between air conditioning and nature’s cooling. If you were driving the sedan any faster than that, the increased drag would presumably make AC the more efficient option.

  • Chris Zacho

    You might also want to add that when coasting downhill, with modern fuel injected engines it is actually more economical (and safer) to leave the transmission in gear as opposed to ‘freewheeling’ in neutral as used to be the case with the older carbureted engines. This is because the computerized FE engines actually cut off the fuel supply to the engine when coasting in gear, whereas they must maintain enough fuel to keep the engine running (idle) when coasting in neutral.