How can hypermiling save you gas?


Announcer

Welcome to Stuff You Should Know from howstuffworks.com.

Josh

Hey and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark with me is Chuck: Bryant. We are podcasting right in the midst of death season Chuck.

Chuck

Wow.

Josh

Yeah,

Chuck

Oh you mean -

Josh

Ed McMahan, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Billy Mays, some impressionist I don't know.

Chuck

Yeah, that comedian guy.

Josh

Yeah, people dropping like flies.

Chuck

Wow -

Josh

Yeah.

Chuck

I feel lucky to be here.

Josh

I do to actually, Chuck.

Chuck

I'm on vacation.

Josh

I know you are. Chuck Bryant is such a world class employee that he actually came in while on vacation to pod cast.

Chuck

I'm fresh in from the airport.

Josh

Yeah.

Chuck

From a wedding in Columbus, Ohio.

Josh

How was it?

Chuck

My first Catholic wedding, dude.

Josh

Those things are awesome, aren't they?

Chuck

My first one ever.

Josh

Plenty of wine.

Chuck

Yeah, the reception sure. But no wine at the mass or the-

Josh

But you were looking around, there were flasks of wine in the pews, yeah believe me.

Chuck

It was long, pretty cool though. I've never experienced that when everyone started reciting the thing-

Josh

Chanting?

Chuck

Is it called chanting?

Josh

I call it chanting.

Chuck

It freaked me out at first.

Josh

Yeah?

Chuck

Quite honestly because I grew up Baptist and people don't say anything out loud at Baptist churches. But it was interesting, definitely a cool experience to go through.

Josh

You only really only need to do it once.

Chuck

I would agree.

Josh

You know.

Chuck

And I doubt if I'll go to a lot more weddings, so.

Josh

Dude, when I was living in Toledo I probably spent 50-70 hours a week in a Catholic wedding.

Chuck

Really?

Josh

A series of Catholic weddings, yeah.

Chuck

Columbus is pretty cool, though.

Josh

Ohio State, not bad, go Buckeyes.

Chuck

All right.

Josh

Are we done?

Chuck

Yes.

Josh

Okay. What are we talking about today?

Chuck

We are talking about gas mileage.

Josh

Oh yes, and how it's calculated, right?

Chuck

Yup.

Josh

Kick us off Chuck.

Chuck

Well, something you folks might notice when you go to buy a car these days, they'll advertise certain gas mileage and you may not get the gas mileage when you're driving the car that was on the sticker on the side of the car or on the TV commercial.

Josh

That was kicking us off?

Chuck

That's a very common thing to not get the gas mileage that's stated.

Josh

Well why?

Chuck

Well because, well let's get into this.

Josh

All right, let's do it Chuck. So basically as you stated, pretty much God and everybody knows that whatever it says on the sticker on the car for whatever it's miles per gallon been calculated at is vastly more than what you're actually going to get. And it's not because the EPA isn't putting cars that it tests through rigorous experiences, right?

Chuck

It's not because they don't car.

Josh

No, as a matter of fact, they don't test almost any of the cars that come out. That's actually left to the auto manufacturer.

Chuck

Yeah I was kinda surprised.

Josh

They submit their findings to the EPA for review and then the EPA I guess randomly tests about 10-15 percent of the new models that are released.

Chuck

Yeah, I was a little disappointed. I would have thought the EPA would be a little more involved than that.

Josh

You would think so but no, not really.

Chuck

They're busy, though, saving the planet.

Josh

They're busy running around trying to figure out how to bring super fun sites back.

Chuck

Exactly.

Josh

Yes.

Chuck

Brownfield's.

Josh

So Chuck, the other I guess big weirdness that has to do with EPA fuel efficiency calculations, is that cars actually don't ever see the road.

Chuck

True.

Josh

They're put on, what are they called?

Chuck

It's called a, it sounds like of fantastic, it's called a Dynamometer.

Josh

Nice.

Chuck

Dyna-mometer.

Josh

Dynam-

ometer

ChuckDynam-

ometer

JoshDynamo-yeah, something along those lines.

Chuck

Let's call it a fun machine.

Josh

Yes!

Chuck

Actually it's like a treadmill for a car is what it is.

Josh

Right so the car is actually in a lab being tested and it's kinda like Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Chuck

Exactly.

Josh

Except not in reverse.

Chuck

Right.

Josh

And I guess they have a city test which is what?

Chuck

Well both tests involve a professional driver. So this driver -

Josh

Yeah, I wonder how much they get paid.

Chuck

Yeah, it's a good question.

Josh

Go into the EPA, test drive a car for a few minutes and -

Chuck

I wonder what everybody gets paid.

Josh

Do you?

Chuck

Oh yeah. I'm one of those guys. So yeah a professional driver gets in to simulate depending on which test city or highway, which driving conditions. So the city program, what they do is they get in, start the engine cold and then they simulate stop and go traffic, idling, that kind of thing. I think they say 11 miles is how far they drive and they make 23 stops over the course of 31 minutes, driving an average speed of 20 miles an hour and the top speed of 56 miles an hour.

Josh

Which seems smart.

Chuck

Yeah.

Josh

Okay all right and then the highway test you start out with a warm engine and they drive 10 miles with an average speed of 48 miles per hour and the top speed of 60 miles per hour for about 12 and a half minutes.

Chuck

So let me go ahead and say, 60 top speed, eh.

Josh

Oh same for me pal.

Chuck

Not real believable.

Josh

I drive like a bat out of hell.

Chuck

Yeah, me too.

Josh

And I just try drive as fast as I can and if you are in front of me in the fast lane and you're not driving faster than me, then I am all up on you.

Chuck

You're like ze Germans.

Josh

Pretty much.

Chuck

Or Winston Wolfe.

Josh

Yeah, not quite as fast as that but you know.

Chuck

Well that's because you don't have a Maserati.

Josh

I can't get my Volvo to go up that now. No but, ok so these two tests they seem logical enough. Here's where things become really illogical and where the discrepancies come from, right?

Chuck

Right.

Josh

The whole time the EPAs conducting these tests or the auto manufacturer conducting the test, there is a little sensor jammed into the tail pipe, stuck in there.

Chuck

Right like when you go to do the emissions testing.

Josh

Sure. And this thing is measuring how much carbon is present in the exhaust.

Chuck

Right so instead of looking at the tank meter or whatever.

Josh

The gas gage.

Chuck

The gas gage, the tank meter? Shoot, what country am I from? The gas gage that would be the easy way to do and just divide, but they say this is much more accurate.

Josh

It is more accurate. The thing is is do you drive around with the sensor jammed in your tail pipe?

Chuck

I do not sir.

Josh

No, nor do I. I'm a very clean person. And neither do most people, right?

Chuck

Correct.

Josh

So this is why when you go buy a car, the miles per gallon calculated are vastly different. That's not the only problem, right?

Chuck

Right.

Josh

Because it's in a lab that automatically changes everything.

Chuck

Everything.

Josh

Not only do we not drive around with sensors jammed up our tail pipes, we also don't drive in laboratories on Dynamometers, right?

Chuck

And there are many, many differences between a dynamometer and lab and on the road.

Josh

We're going lick that word before this pod cast is over.

Chuck

Weather.

Josh

That's a big one.

Chuck

Wind resistance.

Josh

Most laboratories are in doors.

Chuck

Right, different having passengers in your car, having a roof rack with your stupid bike on the back.

Josh

Yeah, weight, aerodynamics. That's really probably the biggest one as far as I'm concerned. I mean think about it. The car is not moving, it's just the wheels, right?

Chuck

Just the wheels.

Josh

So there's no drag whatsoever.

Chuck

None.

Josh

Like when I'm flying down 75 doing 90 miles per hour and it's hot out. I've got all four of my windows rolled down and that just devastates fuel efficiency.

Chuck

Yeah, yeah, true.

Josh

It completely changes the aerodynamic characteristics of the car which Volvo's are kind of boxy to begin with but yeah, I've noticed my gas gages just go [sound of gages depleting] over like 20 miles.

Chuck

I used to drive a Plymouth Valiant. Did I tell you about T, my car T? It was great.

Josh

Isn't that the one you drove back from L.A. or you drove to L.A.?

Chuck

I towed it to L.A.

Josh

Okay.

Chuck

It wouldn'

t have made the drive

JoshOr you bought it in L.A.?

Chuck

No, I bought it here and towed it out there.

Josh

I've never heard of this car then.

Chuck

Well it's a great car but it was one of those old gas guzzlers and this thing literally dude, if I was accelerating on the highway, if you looked hard enough you could see the needle move.

Josh

Wow.

Chuck

Yeah, it was bad. I was real bad. The other things they don't account for Josh, since we're talking about this, is what they call jackrabbit starts or led foot acceleration because that will burn up your gas quicker.

Josh

Oh yeah.

Chuck

And that's realistic city driving, you know.

Josh

Oh definitely and most people don't just go, [sound of driving slow], they go [sound of driving faster].

Chuck

Right, you know who does?

Josh

They go [sound of driving fast].

Chuck

You know who does do that?

Josh

Who?

Chuck

Chris Cox, our co-worker.

Josh

Is he a slow patient driver?

Chuck

Yeah and I hope he listens to this. He drives like a grandma.

Josh

I hope he does too. If you are listening Chris, stay out of the fast lane. Another problem with this test and I know it seems like we're saying there's nothing but problems with this test but that's because there isn't, is that it tends to favor, dramatically favor hybrids.

Chuck

Right because I believe city driving is where the hybrid really gets the most -

Josh

It's almost all electric.

Chuck

Yeah -

Josh

It's produced zero emissions.

Chuck

Sure.

Josh

And I guess they haven't adjusted the formula to account for that so you know, all of a sudden you know, some hybrid cars just getting these incredible miles per gallon.

Chuck

Right.

Josh

Ratings when they don't really. There are some ways around this.

Chuck

Well before we get to that can I mention one more thing?

Josh

Oh yeah.

Chuck

These are brand spanking' new cars that they're driving.

Josh

Oh yes. Not only that, they've been broken in properly.

Chuck

Oh they have?

Josh

Uh-huh. There's actually a way that you're supposed break in a car.

Chuck

Oh when you first buy one?

Josh

Uh-huh. And I think it does take place over the course of a couple of thousand miles but you want to drive, I think no more than 60 and then stop and it staggered. There's this whole process to it and it could actually probably take up part of a pod cast itself.

Chuck

Right.

Josh

And I don't know enough about it to go into it because I've never had a new car.

Chuck

No one does that.

Josh

But that's the way you're supposed to do it. So apparently the EPA does this, so these are brand new cars that have been properly broken in and so they get maximum fuel efficiency.

Chuck

Right and I guess my original point was if you -

Josh

I don't remember back that far.

Chuck

If you don't maintain your car and a lot of people don't maintain their car like you probably should, you're going get worse gas mileage.

Josh

Right plus they don't have any of the electrical system running, no A/C.

Chuck

Yeah, well A/C, I was gonna mention that.

Josh

The tires are perfectly inflated.

Chuck

Yup, exactly.

Josh

Basically this is like what the EPA thinks everybody should be driving and absolutely no one does.

Chuck

Well they said they were gonna and we should follow-up on this, they said they were gonna start doing more realistic tests in the future and they said that, I think -

Josh

The future.

Chuck

Yeah, I'm not sure if that's in effect yet.

Josh

Yeah.

Chuck

But they did say there were gonna try and start taking some of these more things into account.

Josh

It's about time.

Chuck

It is.

Josh

You know?

Chuck

Agreed.

Josh

And just look at the gas gage, like everybody else, no one cares how much carbons present in the exhaust. Save that for the emissions inspection.

Chuck

Yeah.

Josh

So Chuck, as I was saying.

Chuck

Yes, cheating the EPA.

Josh

Yeah, there's some ways to beat the EPA at their own game.

Chuck

Right, well beat your car at its own game.

Josh

Or the oil companies.

Chuck

Are you talking about hypermiling?

Josh

I am Chuck. You know what that is?

Chuck

Hypermiling?

Josh

Yeah.

Chuck

Yeah sure.

Josh

Okay well do you know who coined it?

Chuck

Some dude in Chicago, what's his name?

Josh

Wayne Gerdes.

Chuck

Yes.

Josh

The king of hypermiling.

Chuck

Yeah.

Josh

I think, I'm not sure if he won the title or not but I think he's the world's most fuel efficient driver.

Chuck

I think so too.

Josh

Yeah and he is dedicated to it, like I will never hypermile, ever. It just takes too much patients and you're slow. You're the slowest driver on the road when you're hypermiling.

Chuck

Right, you hyper drive.

Josh

Thanks.

Chuck

That's different.

Josh

But it definitely improves your fuel efficiency for sure.

Chuck

Yeah I got a stat.

Josh

Let's hear it.

Chuck

Edmunds, the car magazine, Edmunds they did an experiment and they found that hypermiling, you can get an extra 35 percent more per gallon and that was in a Land Rover.

Josh

Yeah, which guzzles.

Chuck

And apparently, if you hypermile in like a Toyota Prius, you can bump it up to like 80 to 100 miles a gallon, they say.

Josh

Yeah, I saw a picture; there was a Mother Jones article on Wayne Gerdes and they had two shots of these two different dash boards. One from a Prius and I think one from an Insight or something like that. And these things were clocking like 150 miles per gallon.

Chuck

Man, that's nuts.

Josh

Yeah, it is nuts.

Chuck

And I don't drive. I don't even know if I put 50 miles a week on my car, maybe 75 miles a week.

Josh

You could make a tank of gas last like a year like that.

Chuck

I could if I had a Prius, I should do that. But I have my old Civic and it gets decent gas mileage but I don't drive enough to invest in a new car at this point.

Josh

Well the cool thing about hypermiling is you don't need a new car. You can do it with any car.

Chuck

Yeah, that's true.

Josh

It's merely a series of techniques. You don't have to go buy anything, you don't have to do anything except drive pretty conscientiously and be aware of what you're doing like accelerating and breaking too quickly, you were saying. The Edmonds test, that was based on taking off at a red light or just driving up to a red light and slamming on your brakes. They're both wastes of gas. So too, is driving on the highway without cruise control.

Chuck

Yeah, I didn't realize that.

Josh

Actually that same test by Edmonds actually vastly improved the fuel efficiency of the Land Rover and I think they tested a Mustang too. But they got the biggest bang for their buck using cruise control at 70 on the Land Rover because if you think about it, I mean even if you're really paying attention to staying at 70 miles an hour, it's still based on your foot and your foot is flawed. It's kinda heavy, it's a clumsy thing.

Chuck

I have a club foot.

Josh

I know you do. I wasn't gonna bring it up but, so yeah you wanna rely on cruise control. Those two things alone will really increase your fuel efficiency.

Chuck

Right.

Josh

Driving at lower speeds is a really important thing too.

Chuck

Yeah, did it say anywhere what the ideal speed was?

Josh

No but I've always heard 60.

Chuck

Oh really, I've always heard 35 to 40 for like the ultimate gas mileage.

Josh

Oh I'm talking highway.

Chuck

Oh okay, sure.

Josh

Yeah you'll get in trouble if you drive 35 to 40.

Chuck

Now that makes sense then.

Josh

Yeah.

Chuck

I think in the city though it's 35-40.

Josh

Is it?

Chuck

Yeah.

Josh

Well I know that they used to have much, well I guess today's posted speed limits back in the early 70s or late 60s and then because of the oil embargo, that's when they were dropped down to 55, was to increase fuel efficiency in cars.

Chuck

Right and then they've kicked it back up most places.

Josh

Because everybody's like, we want to drive fast again, we don't care about it. We're on the highway to hell anyway, just let us drive as fast as we want.

Chuck

The I can't drive 55 crowd.

Josh

A/C apparently is kind of a big one, using it at max power.

Chuck

Yeah.

Josh

Which is decisive, uncompromising and rude.

Chuck

You have to though.

Josh

Yeah I know. My A/C doesn't work as I said. I drive down the highway with the windows open and that apparently is way worse that driving with your A/C on.

Chuck

Right because of the drag.

Josh

Sure.

Chuck

And this guy, doesn't he coast and cut his engine early if he's approaching a parking space?

Josh

Um-hum.

Chuck

So he'll coast the last, however far he can to park his car.

Josh

And Gerdes actually on his site, I think his CleanMPG.com, if that's not his site, he writes heavily for it. He answered an age old question for me. If you are going to being idling for longer than seven seconds, turn your car off.

Chuck

Really.

Josh

Because it takes about seven seconds worth of gas to turn a fuel injected car over.

Chuck

Yeah, people always do that.

Josh

And I've always wondered, yeah I've never heard like, whoever told me I didn't believe.

Chuck

Right.

Josh

I believe this guy.

Chuck

Sure.

Josh

So if you're sitting like a drive through or something, turn the car off.

Chuck

Yeah.

Josh

You know.

Chuck

Yeah, that's a great idea.

Josh

Yeah and then there's some slightly more advanced techniques for people who are really into this, patient people.

Chuck

Like what?

Josh

Like ridge riding.

Chuck

Don't know that.

Josh

That was actually another term, coined by Gerdes that, I hope I'm saying his last name right. I've never met the guy, so.

Chuck

Gerde.

Josh

It's where you hug the far right line, solid line of the far right lane on the highway.

Chuck

Okay.

Josh

And you do this for two reasons; one is to make yourself really obvious and noticeable to other drivers so that they have an opportunity to pass you early.

Chuck

Because you're going 35 miles an hour.

Josh

Yeah, because I think he drives like 50.

Chuck

Right.

Josh

Or 45 or 50 on the highway.

Chuck

On the highway.

Josh

So then I was probably wrong about 60 because this guys probably going drive at the optimal speed on the highway.

Chuck

Yeah.

Josh

So No. 1, it makes you obvious because you're not positioned like everybody else. But secondly, in bad weather especially rain, you're actually taking yourself out of those depressions that have worn into the asphalt where puddles are forming, so.

Chuck

Right and that'll slow you down?

Josh

Sure running through water?

Chuck

Yeah I didn't realize that.

Josh

Yeah definitely because your wheels are moving but you're not getting anywhere.

Chuck

Oh okay, that makes sense.

Josh

You've lost traction.

Chuck

You're a hypermiler Josh, in a way.

Josh

I just know a lot about it. Again, I'll never do it.

Chuck

Right.

Josh

And then probably my favorite is distant anticipatory focus.

Chuck

D-A-F.

Josh

Yes, so Gerdes basically tries to drive, like he doesn't have brakes, right?

Chuck

Oh yeah, okay.

Josh

He maintains a very slow steady pace, so he's looking several lights ahead.

Chuck

Right.

Josh

To time his driving to that light. He's trying to accelerate slowly to keep in time with these lights because he wants nothing but green lights.

Chuck

Gotcha that makes sense.

Josh

He never has to use his brakes. And that saves quite a bit too. Of course this is the same guy who also turns off his ignition and coasts into parking spaces.

Chuck

Right.

Josh

So yeah, but that's pretty much hypermiling. I mean there's actually a lot more to it, taking advantage of other cars like using 18-wheelers to draft off of.

Chuck

Well a lot of the NASCAR guys hypermile.

Josh

Yeah.

Chuck

They don't call it that, I don't what they call it.

Josh

Racing.

Chuck

Someone probably has that answer but yeah, during the caution, when they have debris on the track.

Josh

And the pace cars there.

Chuck

Yeah, the little guy will throw out the caution flag and that means everyone's gotta slow down until they clean all the crud off the track. And a lot of the drivers will cut their engines and coast for a while and then cut them back on and then cut them again. And then while they're racing, they will draft. That's a very popular technique to save fuel because in NASCAR, the fewer stops the better.

Josh

Sure.

Chuck

Obviously.

Josh

Yeah.

Chuck

You a NASCAR guy?

Josh

No.

Chuck

Me neither. I've watched it for a while.

Josh

Remember I really love the origin of NASCAR.

Chuck

Yeah.

Josh

Bootlegging but other than that, I'm not really into NASCAR.

Chuck

My sister-in-law Sarah, who I was just with in Ohio, is big into NASCAR and we always give her a hard time. Yeah, we call her a red neck and stuff.

Josh

That's funny.

Chuck

Yeah, that's good.

Josh

Well Chuck, that's about it.

Chuck

Anything else?

Josh

No, I mean really until we come up an alternative fuel source or standard hundred mile an hour or hundred miles per gallon cars, it's a good idea to hypermile.

Chuck

Yeah we should say though I think, exercise some caution if you wanna try this stuff out because you know, some cars if you turn the key off, don't turn all the way off because your steering wheel will lock up.

Josh

That's a good point.

Chuck

And I think sometimes the airbrakes are activated when you start the car, right?

Josh

Yeah so I think you wanna keep it set to ignition to start.

Chuck

Yeah, keep it set to the on position.

Josh

Yeah, so you can still hear your radio. No so you still see lights on the dash board.

Chuck

Right, so just be careful if you wanna try some experimentation here.

Josh

You're really good at COA buddy.

Chuck

Well I could see somebody -

Josh

Do you have any idea how many times we would have been sued if it were not for you?

Chuck

In just my mind eye, I just picture someone saying Josh and Chuck said to cut my engine and all of a sudden -

Josh

The cops like, who's this Josh and Chuck?

Chuck

They go to pull into the parking space and their steering wheel locks up and they'll have a wreck at six miles an hour.

Josh

Well good, all right. That's hypermiling and EPA. We'll keep an eye out to see if the EPA actually does do any real world testing.

Chuck

Good idea.

Josh

And so what, Listener mail.

Chuck

I think so, nowhere to go but up, right? Josh, we are going to call this, What Was in My In-Box before I Came In, listener mail.

Josh

Awesome.

Chuck

That's a secret actually. I shouldn't have revealed that, a good way to get on listener mail is to email me the day we record.

Josh

It's not a secret any longer.

Chuck

It is not. This is about the feeder principle. Remember we did a pod cast about the fact that many companies will not demote somebody; they will just fire somebody if they're incompetent. And this is from Jennifer and she says that she worked for the same company, still working there for five or six years and last November, she worked her way to the top of the sales support and she was kicked down to reception instead of fired.

Josh

Wow.

Chuck

And she was told about her new job and said that she was getting the demotion because she was the weakest person on the team and -

Josh

That's a little harsh.

Chuck

I thought so. And she asked them during the meeting why didn't' they just fire her. And they said because she was still a very important part of the team. Good cop, bad cop.

Josh

Just the worst part of the team.

Chuck

Exactly, very important part of our team but the worst part. Don't forget that. And she said that her pay didn't change so she's actually a very high paid receptionist and actually makes more than a lot of people on the sales team now at the reception desk.

Josh

Which I'll bet the sales team just loves.

Chuck

And we actually did have someone else email another company that said that they practice this as well.

Josh

Well that's fantastic, two out of several hundred thousand.

Chuck

Yeah.

Josh

Not too bad.

Chuck

And she also adds here at the end that we sometimes give shout outs to our men and women overseas who are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and to support them and she says she's an Air Force wife and that we should mention families occasionally that are left behind because it's very hard on them.

Josh

Do it Chuck.

Chuck

And my brother-in-laws in the Marine Corp and he has been deployed many times. My sister Michelle and her kids Shelby and Reagan are often left at home for months at a time and it is hard on the family. So when we say support the troops, we mean the whole family, the whole kit and caboodle.Josh:

Nicely done Chuck

ChuckThank you.

Josh

Nicely done.

Chuck

That's it.

Josh

Well if you wanna mea culpa out of Chuck, you can email us at stuffpodcast@howstuffworks.

com

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