Mythbusters and Hypermiling

by Ryan Guina


With rising gas prices, hypermiling has recently garnered a lot of attention. If you are unfamiliar with hypermiling, it is driving to maximize fuel efficiency using any and all means necessary – including those that may be uncomfortable, dangerous, or illegal. Some of the methods include drafting extremely close to big rigs, modifying vehicles to reduce drag and weight, buying new tires to increase coasting efficiency, and never running the air conditioner or driving with the windows down.

Recently such mainstream media outlets such as MSN and the Washington Post have written articles about hypermiling and the fuel saving benefits that come with it. (They are also very explicit in their warnings that hypermiling is not always the safest thing to do!).

Hypermiling and Mythbusters.

The recent Mythbusters episode, Big Rig Myths, tackles whether or not drafting will actually save fuel efficiency or if it is a myth. Under controlled circumstances, the Mythbusters drafted behind a big rig at distances from 100 feet to 2 feet. Using specialized equipment, the Mythbusters realized increased fuel efficiency from around 10% up to almost 50% at the varying distances from the semi-truck. If it is on Mythbusters, it must be true! (Note: The Mythbusters were very explicit in their “Do not try this at home” warnings!)

Will hypermiling save you money on gas?

Yes. But it is not always safe or convenient. But there are some safe and easy ways to save money on gas:

  • Properly inflate tires
  • Limit idling time
  • Drive the speed limit
  • Remove excess weight from the trunk
  • Maintain proper tire alignment
  • Accelerate smoothly and coast to a stop
  • Combine trips
  • Use gas rewards credit cards (and pay them off every month!) Savings can range from $.12-.20 per gallon.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to see some fuel savings – and it is well worth it!

photo credit: pentond.

Published or updated March 1, 2011.
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