Is Hypermiling Worth My Sanity?

So here’s an update. One thing I’ve found to really motivate me to maintain my hypermiling driving habits (ie: prevent me from romping on it like I usually do) is to always display the mpg meter on my dash.

It has become a game of mental discipline, and the freakin’ Sonata is in my head! Every time I accelerate, no matter how smooth and controlled, I always lose a tenth of a mile on my average mpg rate. I have to then drive for a couple miles at a rock-solid steady pace to gain that tenth back.

But it never stays. Each day, the mpg meter gradually drops a tenth of a mile. I’m closing in on 300 miles (about half freeway) since the last fill up and I’m barely hanging on to 27 mpg.

So I’m left to wonder if it’s even worth it at this point. I’m sure I could get 23 mpg city if I just stopped opening up the throttle every time I accelerate, but I still wouldn’t have to accelerate like a grandma. Is it worth the extra 3 mpg to be constantly shutting off my engine, popping it into neutral to coast, and driving like a grandma? It’s really not that safe do drive that way, and I wonder if the wear and tear on the transmission and starter motor negate the advantage of getting a measely 3 extra mpg.

I usually fill up after burning 14-15 gallons of gas. All this hypermiling in the city gets me an extra 45 miles between fill ups. That’s around 1,200 to 1,500 extra miles per year. Hmmm… okay, maybe it is worth it. To go 1,500 miles at 23 mpg would require 65 gallons of gas. At today’s price of $3.229 per gallon (gotta squeeze that extra nine-tenths of a cent out of everybody), 65 gallons costs roughly $210, which works out to an extra $17 or $18 per month.

That’s enough money to buy me three extra Little Caesar’s Hot n’ Ready pizzas every month! Okay, maybe it’s worth it. I’ll keep trying for a couple more fill ups and see if I can retain my sanity.

As a review of what I’ve done for this, my first tank of hypermiling:

  • Filled my tires to 42 psi (2 psi short of the max)
  • Accelerate like a grandma
  • Coast when possible (especially when approaching red lights)
  • Shut the engine off if I know I’ll be waiting more than 20 seconds
  • Try to always pull forward into a parking space that allows me to pull forward to get out

The improvement this kind of driving has gotten me over EPA estimates:

Old EPA estimates: 30% and 17% improvement city and freeway respectively.
2008 EPA estimates: 53% and 29% improvement city and freeway respectively.

Most hypermilers don’t consider it hypermiling if you don’t get at least a 20% improvement over EPA estimates, so it looks like I need to work on my freeway hypermiling skills.

Now while I’m trying to squeeze every penny out of my fuel economy, I’ve noticed that having gas cost over $3/gallon has done little to curb fuel consumption. At most gas stations, I find that I have to wait in line to fill up. I can take solace in knowing that I will be there less often now though, as in addition to hypermiling I also try to avoid driving as much as I can.

6 thoughts on “Is Hypermiling Worth My Sanity?

  1. queenmeadow

    Maybe I should just do the driving ;) . I do coast but don’t turn the car off unless I just missed the light and know that I’ll be sitting there for awhile.

    Or maybe we should just move right next to the freeway and work right next to one as well, no more city driving.

  2. Clark

    IMO it’s not worth it. Driving is already frustrating enough without something out to stress over. Turn your MPG indicator off and go back to enjoying driving. Are you the same Stu that dreamed about owning a Corvette? I’m sure you weren’t dreaming about that for the gas mileage, so stop worrying about a few extra pennies and stomp on the pedal-the satisfaction of blowing by all the other drivers will be worth it.

    Sidenote: You’re the one who just bought a faster, more powerful car only to drive like a grandma, and I’m the one who’s not a man? Might wanna rethink that one.

  3. DanceMan

    Forget accelerating like a grandma. As noted in the Wikipedia entry you linked, you get better mileage by accelerating briskly and then coasting. That will help take the edge and a lot of the frustration off hypermiling.
    I’ve been hypermiling for a while (only just learned the name from your blog) but when the spirit overtakes me and the opportunity is right, I’ll forget conservation and drive/ride hard. Part of the change from hard driving to hypermiling has been the reduced opportunites due to ever increasing volumes of traffic, and of traffic lights (urban driver/rider).

  4. Stu

    Excellent point DanceMan, and thank you for the contribution. In addition to the decreased opportunities to let fly, hypermiling has also brought to my attention the difficulty of improving city mileage due to afore mentioned increases in traffic (which brings with it an increase in the number of traffic lights my city installs).

    At best anymore, I can go four blocks (which in Orem equates to a half mile) between stop signs or red lights. I’ll have to try your brisk acceleration to coasting recommendation and see how it goes.


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