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How to increase your gas mileage by 70%

Sounds too good to be true . . . but by using these extreme tactics, it's possible to save big at the pump.

By Smart Spending Editor Jun 14, 2013 10:05AM
This post is by Dan Schointuch of partner site Money Talks News.
MSN Money Partners
On the most recent episode of Discovery Channel’s “MythBusters,” Kari Byron, Tory Belleci and Grant Imahara tested whether a few techniques collectively known as “hypermiling” can double your fuel economy. They took two cars, a new sedan and an older coupe, and drove normally as far as they could on exactly 3 gallons of gas. They then repeated the process using hypermiling techniques.

The results? The new car was able to drive 40% farther while hypermiling (30 miles per gallon, up from 21.3 mpg), while the older car went 70 percent farther (45.3 mpg, up from 26 mpg). The myth is busted, because they couldn’t double their fuel economy, but a 70% improvement is impressive. And it could save a lot of money at the pump.

Only driving techniques and modifications legal in California were employed, so everything they did to get that massive improvement in miles per gallon is probably legal for you, too. But since laws vary from state to state, you’ll want to make sure anything you pull from this list is permitted where you live.

Here’s what to do:

Never drive above 45 mph
Yes, this includes highways. And yes, you’ll make a lot of enemies. But if you can pull off driving no faster than 45 mph, you’ll use a lot less fuel.

Remove passenger side mirror

The thinking here is that by reducing wind resistance, you’ll improve mileage. Removing things sticking out from the side of your car should do that.

Avoid braking and rapid acceleration

This is the foundation of hypermiling. Not only do you need to gradually bring your car up to speed, but also drive to minimize braking. This means driving slower overall, looking as far ahead as possible, and braking less around turns.

Turn off engine at red lights
If the engine is off, you’re not using gas. If you can ignore a little horn honking and spiteful hand gestures you’ll get from the cars behind you while you start back up when the light turns green, you’ll spend less on gas.

Windows up/AC off

If you can stand the heat, you can save some money. By keeping your windows up and the AC off, you reduce the strain on your engine and maintain the aerodynamics of your car.

Try to stay relaxed
Angry drivers burn more fuel. It’s a myth that “MythBusters” has already tested, but the lesson learned has become part of hypermiling. If you feel yourself getting stressed behind the wheel (and if you’re driving without AC no faster than 45 mph on the freeway and turning your engine off at every red light, you probably will) try taking a few deep breaths to calm down and remember that your goal is zen-like fuel savings.

Image: Convertible © CorbisLegally draft when possible
This is another technique that’s been tested by “MythBusters” (albeit to an extreme). If you can find an opportunity to legally draft the vehicle in front of you, take it. Drafting is simply driving at a close but still reasonable distance behind the vehicle in front of you.

But while driving extremely close to something like a big rig will save you a ton of gas, it’s incredibly dangerous. Always remember: Your life is more important than your money.

Overinflate tires by 10%
Though it may reduce the lifespan of your tires, slightly over-inflating them may help you get a few more miles out of each tank of gas.

Cover car in streamlining skin
While it may seem a bit goofy, ”MythBusters” covered the cars in some kind of streamlining skin. It’s unclear exactly what they used in this episode, but they’ve already shown that adding dimples to your car can increase its mileage, so a skin might not be so far-fetched.

Try to navigate intersections to always go through green lights

If you have to stop, you’ll have to start back up again. And accelerating up to speed takes fuel. Minimize the number of red lights you encounter and you’ll use less.
Reduce weight

The spare tire in your trunk is convenient when needed, but adds a bunch of weight to the car. If you’re comfortable driving without it, remove it. And while you’re at it, remove anything else that’s adding unnecessary weight, like that set of golf clubs still in your trunk.

Is all this practical?

You’re probably not going to remove your side mirror and spare tire, cover your car with a streamlining skin, or sit in a steaming car all summer. But because you won’t use all of these techniques doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use any.

As we reported in ”The 4 Best Ways to Improve Gas Mileage,” simply driving proactively can increase mileage by 37%, while turning off your car at lights can save 19%. That’s a huge improvement, and one that doesn’t require spending money on silly gas saving devices.

More from Money Talks News:

Jun 14, 2013 12:58PM
You kidding?   What about the traffic jams behind this kind of driver?  Its unsafe to drive 45 on a 70 mph highway, and will cause accidents.  Removing the side view mirror?   Why do you think they put them on in the first place?  For safety!...   It's crazy that you would even suggest these steps.   Park your Prius and take the bus if you want to save gas...   Idiot!
Jun 14, 2013 1:31PM
Jun 14, 2013 1:19PM
How about this one; hey congress let  the VW  Polo-71mpg,  twin turbo DIESEL,clean and fast cars in the USA!!!!!!!!!!

Jun 14, 2013 1:40PM
Dumbest ideas ever.  Most would cause road rage in other drivers and anguish in yourself.  You could bring your gas cost to zero, if you stop driving completely, which is what the rest of us would want you to do.
Jun 14, 2013 1:52PM
The overinflate tires suggestion is stupid, tires are expensive, why would I want to reduce the life of my tires to save a few cents in gas?!
Jun 14, 2013 1:45PM
Better make sure to bullet proof your car too, since you will get attacked by road ragers if you do this stuff especially in Texas. Maybe just get a nice fuel economy car, live near work and drive less.
Jun 14, 2013 2:15PM
What a crock.  There's 5 minutes of my life I'll never get back.  Apparently this jackass has never driven in Arizona in the summer.  And 45 on the freeway will not only cause road rage, it is illegal.  It would cause an obstruction of traffic which could cause an accident.  
Jun 14, 2013 2:46PM
Raise your MPG by 100% !!!
Ride your bicycle to work.

Typical lame, MSN story.  lol
Jun 14, 2013 2:14PM
Over inflating your tires isn't only stupid, IT'S ALSO DANGEROUS!!!!  Today's tires are designed to have maximum grip and specific air pressures.  Over inflating your tires by 10% can result in a 40% smaller grip footprint.  

Also, over inflating your tires puts your tires at greater risk of blowouts.  Hope you enjoy that 15 cents of gas savings when you total your car.  
Jun 14, 2013 12:36PM
I find many drivers don't seem to use cruise control. Cruise control saves big & is a lot less irritating to those behind you, especially on freeways.
Jun 14, 2013 5:23PM
DO NOT draft a big truck.  If you can't see their mirrors they can't see you
Jun 14, 2013 2:36PM
Net result will not save you money. You may save $500 in gas but It will cost $1,000+ in repairs when people run you off the road. Add to that the medical bills when people beat the snot out of your stupid azz and it really is not that much of a savings. Drive the speed limit and use the cruise control.
Jun 14, 2013 12:37PM
Jun 14, 2013 1:24PM
I always use my cruise and very rarely see anyone else using it. I do a lot of interstate driving and have always set my cruise 7 miles over the limit.  When I see an officer on the the road everyone around me slows to under the limit and I just cruise by.
Jun 14, 2013 2:46PM
This is stupid. Who would do any of this stuff?
what a Moron take the side mirror of could shave maybe .1000:00 of a percent off your  fuel consumption and I am pretty sure you will cause atleast 2 more accidents or worse just smash your rear end now that won't be cheap to fix  some way to save 
Jun 14, 2013 3:03PM
Screw that, I'll take the lesser gas mileage. This is moronic.
It may save you some gas but some of these ideas would get you killed in some places, some of the absolute dumbest ideas I've ever heard.

MSN must be getting desperate for something to write about, who makes the decision to put this bullsh!t  online ....... here's a box, clear your desk.... you're fired !!!!!! 
Jun 14, 2013 4:59PM
What a brainless moron!  Do 1/2 that stuff and you'll get killed or physically disabled (you're already mentally disabled so I guess that's a good match).  Reminds me of people who drive to 5 different stores to save 5 - 10 cents on items advertised or using coupons.  That's known as STUPID!  

Really wanna save gas?  Get off your lazy a$$ writing idiotic articles like this and ride a bike!  Or stay at home, which also benefits the rest of us who know how to drive.
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