Fuel Efficiency Addiction

by : Ally Wahlberg



Fuel efficiency is one of the standards that a car buyer consider when looking for a car. In the case of Laurie With, she is very much obsessed with fuel efficiency. As a matter of fact, she drives her Honda Civic Hybrid really slowly. On the pedestrian, she accelerates slowly when the green lights are on. On the hills, she coasts down in order to save fuel. And on the highways, she sticks in the slow lane; she just watches the big SUVs pass.

According to her, whenever she sees someone roar past her, she just thinks the driver used the amount of fuel that could make her Honda Civic Hybrid vehicle with run for a week.

With is a part of a small but tremendously dedicated group of drivers around the United States. They call themselves "hypermilers". Most of them exclusively drive hybrid vehicles. And their goal is to squeeze every kilometer they can out of each drop of fuel.

Now that fuel is climbing past $3 a gallon (R5.65/liter), if one would analyze, some of their tips are very practical and could help any kind of driver. Like for example, use substitute routes so that stop-go traffic will be avoided. Be alert with the lights and drive a bit more slowly but surely. These are very simple tips.

The "hypermilers" over-inflate their tires a bit in order to cut rolling resistance, seize every chance to freewheel with their engines off, and sometimes "slipstream" like racing cars behind larger vehicles like SUVs and trucks.

Some of their suggested tips can be delicate, and some cannot even be done in conventional cars.

Chuck Thomas is a computer programmer in Lewisville, Texas. This 49 year old programmer gets about 3.13 litres/100km from his hybrid Honda Insight. He said he does as few accelerations and brakes as possible to get up so that he can speed and maintain it. Other things he does are cruising a bit below the speed limit, avoiding lane changes and freewheeling to red lights.

Wayne Gerdes has a web site that focuses on low fuel consumption and he lists other suggested tips to achieve fuel efficiency. Part of his list is parking on the highest point of a lot while acing toward the exit. This is to let gravity get the car moving.
He also recommends slipstreaming off the left rear corner of a truck so that wind resistance will be reduced while still allowing the driver to see you. Furthermore, he suggests following the truck at a gap of about one second. This is because, according to him, drafting any closer contributes eye-popping fuel economy, and at the same time too dangerous.

He adds the use of "pulse and glide". This is where the driver accelerates above the speed limit, then switches off the engine and glides to a speed below the limit.

Fuel efficiency is easy to attain with a hybrid. In a conventional or standard vehicle, it can be dangerous because power brakes may not work so some automatic transmissions will not go into gear at freeway agility.

Kurt Antonius, Honda spokesperson, said that their company shared 'hypermilers' enthusiasm for fuel economy but could not endorse some of their strategies. He added that it may be great to be flowing on the racetrack. But on the highway, it is a big NO.

Moreover, Minnesota State Patrol Lieutenant Mark Peterson commended the efforts of the hypermilers and their goals. But he said that drafting in less than three seconds behind big vehicles and shutting down a petrol engine while driving is too dangerous.

But none of those hindered the advocacy of the hypermilers. As a matter of fact, they share stories of achievement, backed by photos of fascia displays on different websites.

A burst of technical questions about "intense pulses" and a "low state of charge on the battery" were responded to a hypermiler in Japan who reported that her Toyota Prius averaged 2.11 litres/100km.

Going back to With, she let her car to roll slowly down the slope of a parking lot before starting it. She avoided a stop sign and diverted to several blocks down a slight grade through a leafy area.

Her Honda's fascia display depicted four liters/100km. But for her car, the EPA estimates should use about five liters while driving along city-highway. She let her car glide well below the 80km/h speed limit with no one behind her. Her car's fascia never displayed higher than 4.15 litres/100km.

Fuel efficiency is indeed an addiction nowadays since fuel prices continues to hit its highest. For this reason, many car owners and drivers do a lot of techniques just to save fuel. But it is still best to save without compromising you and your car's safety.