You may have heard about this latest craze - the concept of "hypermiling": attempting to maximize the miles per gallon of your vehicle by tweaking your driving habits. I had seen a special on the news about this guy and his Honda Accord, getting 50 mpg (though he was doing crazy things he called "Advanced Techniques", like shutting off his engine on the highway - I'm not going there). I decided to try it out for week. I drive a 2004 Toyota RAV4, 2WD, 2.4L engine, 5-speed manual transmission (yeah! stick shift!).

Last Tuesday, my last fill up, I wrote down the RAV's current mileage, 94,676. Yesterday, I filled up again - 10.033 gallons. That's how much I consumed over the week. Mileage at fill up: 94,983. Difference of 307 miles. Divided by 10.033 gallons is... (drum-roll!)... 30.6 miles per gallon!

This is significant, folks. According to the latest, (downwardly) revised EPA estimates, I should be at 21/27 (city/highway). I drive 70% city miles, so I should be closer to 23 mpg.

Here is what I have done, thus far:
  1. Whenever possible, and safe, I put the car in neutral, especially when I have a downward slope. When I can see it's time to brake, I first put the car back into the appropriate gear, so that the engine can start the slowdown, rather than wearing out my brakes. Coasting in neutral doesn't have to come at the price of your brakes - you just have to plan ahead and use the engine.
  2. No more fast acceleration. From a stop, or lower gear like 2nd, I don't step on it. I used to be a little more aggressive with that, but no more. I accelerate slowly.
  3. I look ahead to anticipate red lights of stops. If I see one coming, if possible, I put it into neutral or use the engine to GRADUALLY slow down. If I'm lucky, I never have to actually stop at a light, it'll turn green before I get there.
  4. If I get to a light that has just turned red an I know the intersection has a longer wait, I shut the engine off.
  5. On the freeway, I don't go more than 70 mph. I hover around 65 and use cruise control if the traffic is lighter. This has been harder because I am used to going 80 mph, so if there is traffic and I'm not on cruise, I notice that if I'm not paying attention I'm suddenly going close to 80 mph. So I have to watch myself there.

All in all, I am going to continue with my data point collection and hypermiling efforts. After a month or so, I'll probably get a more accurate reading but, this can't be a complete fluke since it was over 7 days.

It's worth a try!


Popular Posts