Hyper for MPG

Hypermiling: altering your automobile and your driving habits for better gas mileage.

Wayne Gerde is the King of hypermiling. What? You’ve never head of hypermiling? It was only the recipient of the New American Oxford Dictionary’s 2008 Word of the Year honor! Gerde coined the term to describe the driving techniques that increase a car’s miles-per-gallon rating. In the 2008 World Fuel Economy Championship, he was able to sustain a staggering 213.8 mpg with a Honda Insight hybrid. The practice is not without its drawbacks, and even dangers, as some hypermilers have been on the receiving end of road rage as the result of driving well below the speed limit (in order to radically reduce wind resistance).

In addition to super-low speeds, the so-called “extreme hypermilers” will also do potentially very dangerous things like “draft” behind large vehicles, inflate their tires up to double the recommended pressure and roll through stop signs and red lights in light-traffic areas. While during Chico summers you’ll probably want to steer clear of the no a/c and no-windows-down suggestions, here are some basic, though maybe not entirely less-risky, techniques for beginner hypermilers:

• Do not accelerate quickly or brake heavily

• If idling for more than seven seconds, turn off your car (restarting takes approximately seven seconds of fuel).

• Avoid driving at excessive speeds.

• Remove cargo racks and any other excessive weight on or in the car.

• Avoid running air conditioning.

• Avoid driving with the windows down.

• Keep up on regular maintenance.

• Use synthetic motor oil.

• Anticipatory focus: looking far ahead to see potential stopping and acceleration needs.

• Drive with buffers: In traffic-jam conditions, leave enough buffer to be able move slowly without having to brake as often.

More info at www.cleanmpg.com.