What Is Hypermiling and How Safe Is It?

In a cost-of-living crisis every penny counts. As the UK population scrimps and saves, motorists are thinking of innovative ways to become more fuel efficient. This has given rise to a new and controversial technique known as ‘Hypermiling’.

Inspired or infuriating depending on your position, this economical approach to driving has certainly caused a stir.

‘Hypermilers’ – as they’ve been christened – are all about getting bang for their buck.

The process is not reliant on any one feature within a vehicle but rather a mindset. And it’s a strategy turned stance that begins before you even take to the road.

MPG and Hypermiling

Hypermiling Ideology - MAT Foundry

Anoraks in the nicest sense of the word, this group pay close attention to miles per gallon. Indeed, that’s the starting point for any hypermiling gameplan. Once your vehicle’s MPG is calculated you can begin planning journeys. Or not, as it happens.

With the ultimate goal being to cut expenditure, most weigh up whether they can get from A-B by walking or cycling.

When faced with no option but to drive, hypermilers will go to great lengths to plot their route. They’ll do so with a clear intention to keep moving, deliberately avoiding busy roads where heavy traffic can lead to more braking and stopping.

Wherever possible, they’ll head to dual carriageways or motorways in order to maintain a constant speed. Who needs sat navs?

Before setting off they will ensure their car is free of any excess weight. The heavier a vehicle, the more energy it requires to move. A loaded boot is then a complete no-go.

It will also come as no surprise to learn hypermilers are hot on maintenance, never missing a service to ensure everything is running efficiently and firing as intended.

Hypermiling Techniques

The above tactics are deployed before even engaging first gear. Once on the road things are kicked into overdrive, or the opposite if you will.

Unsurprisingly, hypermilers aren’t the quickest of drivers.

70mph may well be the national speed limit on motorways yet it’s not uncommon to find these motorists dropping to 60mph. Why? Because they have referred to their make and models’ particular MPG and ascertained this pace can make a real difference.

Taking fuel economy to the extreme, it’s an approach which certainly triggers other road users. To join the hypermiling club is to invite criticism and, sadly… abuse.

Make no mistake, you need be both frugal and thick skinned.

Marginal gains are all important, even down to the way you park.

Seldom will you see self-proclaimed hypermiler drive into a space, for example. That’s because pulling as opposed to reversing out saves fuel. Yes, really.

When on the move, they pay careful attention to the road up ahead. Great anticipation results in a smoother drive, as there is often less need for braking. Cruise control is utopia.

20 Popular Hypermiling Techniques

  1. Reduce travel
  2. Avoid Excessive Braking
  3. Adhere to speed limit (or just below)
  4. Empty boot
  5. Avoid quick/aggressive acceleration
  6. Check tyre pressure
  7. Switch off engine at red lights
  8. Deploy cruise control wherever possible
  9. Never idle
  10. Align wheels
  11. Plan journeys (taking roads les travelled)
  12. Avoid drive-throughs
  13. Don’t drive in bad weather
  14. Service regularly
  15. Keep an eye on the road ahead and anticipate
  16. Use windscreen covers
  17. Overinflate tyres
  18. ‘Smart’ Parking
  19. Coasting
  20. Drive with windows up at all times

Another go-to tactic for this group is to deploy windscreen covers almost all year round.

In the summer months, these can prevent a car from overheating and therefore limit the reliance on air conditioning.

The principle works in reverse during the winter. If hypermilers can combat the build up of frost they can avoid what to them is the hellish experience of cranking up their heater, something which eats into their petrol.

Criticism of Hypermiling

Hypermiling Drivers - MAT Foundry

The very concept of hypermiling is divisive. We’d all like our tanks of fuel to go that bit further, meaning few would dispute the logic.

That said, those taking it to the extreme are surely removing any enjoyment from the driving experience as we know it. The most committed hypemilers, for example, must shun drive-throughs. To them, no burger is worth an extended period of idling.

These same people may even drive shoeless, believing this affords them a better feel of their accelerator and brakes.

When does miserliness turn to madness?

Critics of hypermiling - of which there are many - also point to associated dangers. A technique known as ‘Drafting’, where hypermilers drive close behind bigger vehicles like lorries or vans to shield them from drag, brings with it obvious risks.

Others argue the approach can actually damage your car, citing a growing tendency to switch off an engine whilst coasting. This could very well do more bad than good.

Even so, hypermiling is on the rise, its popularity no doubt linked to the sorry state of UK economy.

According to the Daily Express, Liverpool has become a capital of sorts, with 86% of the city’s drivers stating they’ve adopted at least some of the techniques.

More than 75% of drivers in London have followed suit..

Best Cars for Hypermiling

Whilst hypermiling is more mentality than mod-cons, certain cars lend themselves to the concept more than others. These, quite simply, are those boasting the best MPG.

Back in March 2023, What Car? revealed a top five in terms of performance. It served to underline the efficiency of Asian models…

  • Toyota Yaris Cross 1.5 Hybrid (60.01 mpg)
  • Toyota Yaris 1.5 Hybrid (59.93 mpg)
  • Suzuki Ignis K12D 1.2 Dualjet Hybrid (59.9mpg)
  • Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI 115 (57.9mpg)
  • Suzuki Celerio 1.0 (57.8mpg)

While it’s unlikely any automaker will market themselves as the go-to hypermiling brand, the attention to detail of that audience could well see their sales soar regardless.

Love it or loathe it this new approach to driving is here to stay. Even a fast growing economy is unlikely to make hypermilers speed up.

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