Tips, Tricks & Trends

What Is ‘Hypermiling’ and Is it Bad For Your Car?

As we ride the never-ending wave of plummeting and soaring gas prices across the nation every year, it’s important to find ways to save fuel. On one hand, you can buy a hybrid car and get the most miles out of every gallon of gas or an electric car and not worry about gas altogether. But what if buying a new car is out of the question?

In that case, you can squeeze every drop out of your own car’s gas tank by “hypermiling” it whenever you drive. But what is hypermiling and is it bad for your car?

What is hypermiling?

Hypermiling is a term used to describe the process of getting the most mileage out of every gallon of fuel that your car carries. The process is really all about momentum driving, in the sense that you can use a series of driving techniques to keep the car driving down the road at its optimal fuel efficiency range. However, some of these techniques are considered hazardous under most normal driving conditions as your car will usually be driving much slower than the flow of traffic.

Those who use these techniques on a regular basis are referred to as “hypermilers,” as they will consistently hypermile their cars in order to get the best fuel economy possible. However, the first rule of hypermiling is that if you don’t need to drive your car to get somewhere, walk or ride your bike instead.

Minimize the load on your car’s engine

In order to get the best fuel economy possible, hypermilers will ensure that they put the least amount of stress on the engine possible. This typically means driving at or below the speed limit and using cruise control when possible in order to smoothly apply fuel to the engine. The smoother you are with the accelerator — ensuring that you’re not accelerating too hard or quickly from a stop or when changing lanes – the more efficient your car will be.

A woman driving an air-conditioned car.
A woman driving an air-conditioned car. | (Photo by Mediacolors/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images)

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Coast as much as possible

When a hypermiler does get the car up to speed, whether it’s on the highway or regular roads, they will then coast as much as possible in order to inject less fuel into the engine. Coasting your car is done by slowly accelerating up to speed and maintaining a good distance behind the car ahead in order to use your brakes as little as possible. The philosophy behind coasting is that you won’t have to brake as much to slow the car down or apply as much throttle to speed up, which will use less fuel in the long run.

This also means that you’ll most likely have to drive in the right-most lane on the highway and on regular streets to let faster cars pass you safely.

 A gas pump pumps fuel into a car at a Shell service station.
A gas pump pumps fuel into a car at a Shell service station. | (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Pulse and glide

Once you get the coasting technique down and you know how to safely follow behind cars and while maintaining an even pressure on the gas pedal, then you can practice the “pulse and glide” technique that most hypermilers do.

The “pulse and glide” technique involves you pressing (pulsing) the gas pedal in order to get up to speed and then “gliding,” or coasting, to save fuel and then pulsing again to get back up to speed.

This technique is best to do when there’s no one else around since you will be varying your speed and it’s much easier to do in a hybrid car like a Prius since it will have an electric motor to assist.

Cars drive past a sign on the A82 north bound in Glasgow, Scotland.
Cars drive past a sign on the A82 northbound in Glasgow, Scotland. | (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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Is hypermiling bad for your car?

Technically speaking, no. While hypermiling techniques include a lot of coasting and pulsing, doing so won’t hurt your car’s engine any more than normal driving would. If anything, hypermiling could be better for your car’s engine since you’re won’t be putting it through very much stress. However, since hypermiling means that you’ll be driving slower than most other cars, it could hurt other driver’s perception of you in the process. Try it at your own risk.