The art of hyper-miling

Seven On Your Side
August 1, 2008 9:03:07 PM PDT
With the price of gas hovering around $4.00 a gallon, people are car-pooling, buying fuel efficient cars, doing anything they can to save gas. So how would you like to almost double your gas mileage with a few simple driving tricks?

It's a new trend called hyper-miling.

John Flory used to be a leadfoot, but now they call him lightfoot.

"It wasn't until I really started slowing down that I noticed it got a lot better," he said.

He's talking about his gas mileage. It was then he became a hyper-miler -- getting 35 miles a gallon!

So we put his 2003 Subaru to the test. First, I drove.

I drove rather aggressively, as much as fifteen miles over the speed limit, passing slower cars and cutting through traffic.

John had a manual transmission, so I downshifted into curves and tried to be the first off when the light turned green.

According to his mileage gauge, I did everything wrong -- 21.6 miles per gallon and I used 1.3 gallons of gas.

Then our hyper-miler, John, took over.

First john inflated the tires to the maximum recommended, 51 psi. He checked the air filter and oil, and off we went, saving gas everywhere we could.

John does something called pulse and glide. He accelerates only going up hills, coasting down hills in neutral. Sometimes he even turns the car off.

"Engine's not running and we're using zero gallons and we have our steering. We're just coasting," he said.

He drives no more than the speed limit and usually well under it, staying far in the right lane and letting everyone pass.

Key to hyper-miling is anticipating slow-downs and stops so you coast rather than brake. And if the red light lasts more than ten seconds, turn the car off.

"Certain of these hyper-miling techniques are very dangerous," said Robert Sinclair of Triple A.

Sinclair warns against over inflating tires.

"It decreases the handling ability and the traction of the tire," he said.

He also doesn't recommend turning the car off while it's moving.

As for driving slowly and steadily and keeping the car in good condition, he agrees that they work.

And John's experiment? 34.9 miles per gallon

The proof is in the numbers.

Here's how my driving stacked up against his:

I got 21 miles per gallon. He got almost 35.

I used 1.3 gallons. He used .82.

At 4 dollars a gallon, that's a savings of almost two dollars on just one half-hour drive.

That works out to a savings per 15 gallon tank of about 15 dollars and an additional 214 miles -- something that appeals to everyone, hyper-miler or not.

You can learn more about hyper-miling by visiting http://www.cleanmpg.com

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STORY BY: Tappy Phillips

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bob Monek

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