If you google “hypermiling”, there are some amazing stories about how some people have been able to max out the distance that their cars can get them. But you don’t have to be a professional to save a good amount of money on gas and make your car more efficient. There are some very simple ways to increase your Miles Per Gallon, or MPG.
What’s the Big Hurry?
We’ve all seen it. You’re stuck in stop and go traffic on the highway, and there’s always someone constantly switching lanes, trying to weave his way to the front. He’s pumping the gas to cut off the person to his left only to then slam on the brakes behind the next stopped car, and then he’s doing it all over again in the next lane. He takes the idea of stop and go to the extreme, and ends up four cars ahead of you for all of his troubles.
But there’s a better way, people!
And guess what?
It saves you money, too!
For years I have been tracking my MPG on my various cars. The computerized readouts are not always accurate, so be sure to do it manually, at least once in a while.
Reset the trip odometer just after pumping gas.
When filling up the following time, divide the number of gallons of gas into the number of total miles.
This has become a sort of game with me at this point. I aim to beat my old best MPG each fill-up.
(I know, pretty dorky).
Here are some tips for how you can increase your MPG, and save money at the same time.
1. Slow Down
Driving at excessive speeds can significantly affect the miles per gallon that a car can get. In fact, according to most research, driving between 40-50 miles per hour is ideal for maximizing MPG. So, slow down on the highway. Lose the lead foot, as driving upwards of 70-80 miles per hour can cause a 20-25% decrease in fuel efficiency.
Drafting is another option, but one I would not recommend. Some people swear by the benefits of tailing behind an 18-wheeler or other large truck. It is true that drafting causes a drag reduction that can 20% more mile for your buck, but at what cost?
Tailgaiting is dangerous. Tailgaiting behind a semi at 55 MPH is probably deadly. All that to save a few pennies on the highway. No thanks.
2. Coast Whenever Possible
This one goes hand in hand with speed, but try to coast whenever possible. Do not accelerate when it’s not necessary. When trying to maximize MPG, use hills to your advantage. Combine the momentum of the car and the decline of the hill to keep the speed without having to push down on the gas pedal.
Most cars can get over 100 MPG when coasting down a hill!
Use that momentum to your advantage and you will be amazed at how much your MPGs will increase.
Additionally, you will be saving your brakes, which takes me to my next point.
3. Avoid Braking
Your goal when driving should be to brake as little as possible. Sounds dangerous, right? Obviously, stop when necessary, but foresee what’s coming to avoid constant braking.
Coming up on a traffic light, coast your way toward it instead of staying at 30 MPH until you are right up at the light. This way, you are using the momentum of the car to approach the light instead of burning more fuel.
Keep a significant distance between yourself and the car in front of you. This is important whether you are on the highway or side roads. Keeping back a significant distance is not only safe, but it also makes maintaining a constant speed much easier. You avoid all of those taps on the brakes because you are getting to close to the car in front of you.
Conclusion – Slow Down & Increase MPG
This really all boils down to taking a more relaxed approach to driving. When we’re late or just in a hurry, we tend to drive more aggressively. Riding someone’s tail, speeding up to a stop light, or swerving from one lane to another usually saves you very little time. Slow down and take it easy. You will increase your MPG and your wallet will thank you for it.
Ultimately, the biggest way to save money is to buy a smaller (or even an electric or hybrid) car to become more fuel-efficient. Additionally, we have saved money by creating the $1,000 rule for car buying. But, you can also increase MPG by using the tips above to save a few dollars each time you fill-up.
What about you? How do you save money and increase MPGs?