In the modern-day UK, you can’t seem to go 24 hours without questioning why something is so expensive. That £1.25 bar of chocolate? 15p when you were a kid. A family trip to the cinema ticket? Remortgage the house… But, there’s one necessity that never ceases to shock the British public, stinging almost every single driver in the country – fuel.
The cost of fuel, whether you’re after petrol, diesel or even electricity, has skyrocketed to the point where the companies in control posted record-breaking profits while the average person is having to consider selling their car altogether. It’s no surprise then, that more and more drivers are starting to practise ‘hypermiling’, a rather complex driving technique that sometimes involves not getting behind the wheel at all. Within this blog post, we’ll explain everything you need to know about hypermiling, how to hypermile a car and how this driving technique saves fuel.
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What Is Hypermiling?
The act of hypermiling involves using extreme driving behaviours to maximise fuel efficiency during every single aspect of vehicle usage. Any vehicle can be driven with hypermiling techniques in place, but this intense fuel-saving practice actually extends further than when you’re behind the wheel. Everything from whether your car is parked facing the Sun to how much power you’ll need to pull off from a standstill is considered by the most committed of hypermilers.
Why Do People Hypermile Their Car?
There are a few reasons why hypermilers choose to drive the way they do, but more than anything else, it boils down to saving money. Fuel prices are ludicrous, and chances are that if you’re reading this at the time of writing or ten years in the future, that will still be true. Even the slightest changes to our driving habits can save litres of fuel in the long run, something that hypermilers staunchly believe.
There’s also the environmental angle, many hypermilers also driving hybrid or electric cars. Saving fuel of any kind is, of course, helpful for the environment, using less of these resources and cutting your individual emissions.
Is Hypermiling Bad For Your Car?
Certain hypermiling techniques are indeed bad for your car. First and foremost, coasting your vehicle can damage your brakes and, ironically, is actually said to be inefficient!
When you drive normally, without coasting, your car will perform something known as engine braking through which you’ll slow down without needing to actually press the brake pedal. When coasting, the engine cannot do this, meaning that your brakes take the responsibility of slowing the car or van down entirely on their own. One individual moment of coasting isn’t going to destroy your brakes, but doing it constantly every time you drive will put excessive wear on your brake pads, discs and callipers.
According to Mercedes themselves, the throw out bearing, responsible for disengaging the engine when the clutch is pressed, is also at risk when you coast your car. This component is under stress while the clutch is down, so if you’re coasting for extended periods of time, it’s going to be under pressure much more often than it needs to be. Replacing this part is no joke, either. To access it, the entire clutch system would need to be dismantled!
Then there’s the fuel efficiency point; modern cars are too clever (or too dumb, depending on how you look at it) to allow coasting. The electrical sensors that are all over your car can control fuel consumption based on whether or not the clutch is down. When you’re going downhill with the car in gear, these sensors can tell that the wheels are turning and the vehicle is moving, which allows it to entirely cut fuel injection. However, when you coast down a hill, the car will think you’re idling, so it continues to use a small amount of fuel just to keep the engine ticking over.
Pros And Cons Of Hypermiling
There are positives and negatives to consider before you opt to take up hypermiling. Let’s run through then now:
If your efficiency is maximised, you really can save a significant amount of fuel (and money) by becoming a hypermiler. You can do your bit for the planet, while making sure your bank balance stays healthy at the same time!
It can also encourage sensible driving techniques, like smooth braking and slower, more controlled speeds. But on the other hand…
We’ve covered the damage you can do to your car above, along with possible misconceptions about fuel efficiency.
On top of all this, there’s then concerns over road safety. As we now know, coasting is more common when travelling downhill. The problem is, this is when it can be most dangerous as your car will pick up speed far faster than it normally would if you were to leave it in gear. It goes without saying that this extreme speed, particularly if it takes you by surprise, will give you less time to react to your surroundings and is more likely to cause an accident.
The most extreme hypermilers will also put a lot of extra time and effort into their journeys than a regular driver, something which most of us will probably believe simply isn’t worth it. Take a look through the next section, where we delve into specific tips for hypermiling, to decide for yourself.
Tips For Hypermiling
So, we’ve explained that hypermiling is a driving technique to save fuel, but how exactly do you hypermile a car? Here’s a selection of some top hypermiling techniques:
- Peak Vehicle Maintenance – Make sure your car is always kept in the best condition possible, with a focus on your tyres in particular. They should be at the optimal pressure and feature minimal tread wear.
- Meticulous Planning – Every journey should be planned to cover the shortest possible distance to minimise fuel consumption.
- Park Quickly – Park your car in a spot that’s going to add as little distance to your journey as possible. Don’t loop around car parks or side streets looking for the closest spot to your on-foot destination.
- Watch Your Load – Don’t weigh down your car with any unnecessary items.
- Ignore Gadgets – Turn off your heating or air con and don’t use any other devices that will sap the car’s power.
- Streamline – Keep your windows up and remove roof boxes and other protruding items, allowing the car to be as aerodynamic as it was designed to be.
- Predict The Road Ahead – Braking and accelerating when you don’t need to will use excessive fuel. Use engine braking and in-gear coasting when possible by paying attention to the road ahead and using your pedals smoothly.
- Walk Or Use Public Transport – If your proposed journey is a short one, walk. Short journeys are the worst kind for an internal combustion engine vehicle, using the most fuel. If it’s a longer journey, consider public transport as an alternative.
- Park In The Sun – Point your car in the direction of the Sun when parking in colder weather, as this will naturally defrost your windscreen, meaning you won’t need to idle with the heater on.
- Park Facing Downhill – Park your car with the front facing downhill so that you won’t need to accelerate to pull off.
And there you have it – a whole load of tips to help you hypermile your car, ranging from common sense to somewhat crazy.
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