Maybe you’re not a believer that adopting conservative driving habits can actually increase your mileage in a meaningful way, consider this test that Ford recently conducted. They assembled a team consisting of a NASCAR driver, an engineer, and a hyper-mileage record breaker to see how many miles they could wring out of a tank of gas in a stock Ford Fusion Hybrid. Driving on open roads they got 1,445.7 miles out of one tank of gas. One tank! That works out to an astonishing 81.5 mpg.
You won’t get those kinds of extraordinary results driving your 40-foot diesel pusher or pulling your Excel Limited fiver with five slides, but they proved that you can stretch your mileage–no matter what you drive. And you can too, by taking a few tips from the team and applying some version of them to your driving habits.
- Slow down and maintain even pressure on the throttle.
- Accelerate gradually, both from a stop and when entering a freeway.
- Brake smoothly, avoiding fast stops.
- Keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- Look ahead and anticipate traffic conditions. Slow down well before you need to.
- Coast up to red lights and stop signs to avoid wasting fuel (using your kinetic energy) and wear on the brakes.
- Minimize using heater and dash air conditioning to reduce the load on the engine.
- Run roof air and close windows at high speeds to reduce aerodynamic drag.
- Minimize excessive engine workload by using the vehicle’s kinetic forward motion to climb hills.
- Use downhill momentum, rather than applying accelerator, to build speed back up.
On a recent trip I had to rent a car for a week. My rented Prius had just over 6,000 miles on it and the monitor screen indicated that the car had averaged 41 miles per gallon up to that point. I thought it would be an interesting test to follow the monitor’s display of mileage that reflected on my driving at the time and, within reason–I was not trying to hyper-drive–adjust my driving speed, acceleration, and coasting to obtain higher mileage.
The tank lasted the entire week, and in fact had quite a bit left, even after a lot of tourist attraction and exploration driving. When I re-filled the tank, the car calculated my mileage for that tank of gas at 55 mph, a 34% increase–quite impressive. I could easily see how my actions affected the mileage by seeing the instant feedback on the vehicle’s monitor.
I previously had managed to increase the mileage on my motorhome (while towing) from 7.2 to 8.8 mpg–a 22% increase–using similar methods of driving. I also had occasion recently to use a friend’s Land Rover for two tanks of gasoline, and practiced hypermiling. The EPA standard for the Rover was 12 mpg combined. I got 17.75 mph–a 48% increase! These tips work. You too can obtain the same kind of mileage improvements–if you already haven’t. Start now, the sooner the better to display your middle digit to OPEC.
For more RV tips and articles check out my Healthy RV Lifestyle website and ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang out of your RV Lifestyle Dollar (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle).