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Trying To Improve Gas Mileage Too Much Can Be Dangerous

Jan 7, 2008
There is some very bad advice out there in regards to increasing your fuel economy. I recently saw an article from the Washington Post. It talked about a driving strategy called hypermiling. While some of the tips presented were useful and legitimate ways to save gas, such as being gentle on the gas pedal, others were just plain dangerous.

The post described this particular fuel saving methodology as hypermiling. It described hypermilers as motorists who modify their driving to improve mileage and reduce emissions. This description can describe many concerned drivers interested in conserving fuel and protecting the environment. The difference between hypermilers and normal fuel conscious drivers is hypermilers are fanatics.

It seems that any activity pushed to what one would consider fanaticism is dangerous and this is no different. Some of the techniques suggested by hypermilers can put you the driver and your passengers in great peril.

For example one piece of advice offered by some hypermilers: TURN OFF YOUR vehicle AND COAST. This behavior is likened to hybrids shutting the fuel engine off when the car is sitting still. But with hybrids, the electric motor is how the vehicle starts and runs at slow speeds so the hybrid is not really off, it is just running on it's electrical system.

When you turn a conventional car off, the first thing that happens is your steering wheel locks. You have absolutely no control of the car at that point. The second thing is there is no power to the vehicle. Not only can you not steer but you can't power the car if you need to accelerate quickly if an emergency situation should arise.

Additionally the power assisted brake system shuts down. In order to stop the car you have to literally put your brake foot through the floor board. Again an extremely dangerous position to put you, your passengers and other motorists in.

Advice like this is irresponsible and can end up causing someone harm. Another suggestion by Some hypermilers is to over-inflate your tires. Again another dangerous suggestion. Over inflating your car's tires causes less tread to be in contact with the pavement. The control of your vehicle is only through the contact your tires have with the road. If you compromise that, you compromise your control and safety.

Additionally if you over inflate your tires they will wear faster. That will result in you loosing tread and ultimately loosing more traction. Monitoring your tire pressure is good advice. Keeping them at the proper inflation does save fuel. Over inflating is a safety hazard.

The basic purpose of hypermilers is good. They advocate relearning how to drive. Relearning how to drive in a responsible manner with fuel economy in mind is the best way to save gas. While much of the hypermiler advice can be called mainstream, such as driving at slower speeds, their fanaticism adds too much of a degree of danger. Common sense driving, which includes learning the correct way to drive fuel efficiently, is the best way to save fuel. After all, the greatest fuel saving device is you, the driver.
About the Author
Scott Siegel is the author of a 143 page manual of industry insider secrets on saving gas and money at the pump (beatthegaspump.com). Visit us to discover how you can get better gas mileage. Find out how to increase gas mileage.
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