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Old 05-06-2008, 09:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Hypermiling and safety

Hi everyone. This is my first post.

I'm 31 years old, and have been recording my mileage every tank since I was 16. I'm far from a hypermiler, but it is very seldom that I get less than the EPA highway rating in any of my cars, regardless of driving conditions. In high school I used to use a few techniques advocated here (figured them out on my own) that I now consider too dangerous.

Examples include coasting downhill with the engine off (dangers include accidentally locking your wheel, slower steering, and very high brake effort) and significantly over inflating tires (decreased cornering and braking traction). Now, I mostly just do high throttle setting/low RPM to minimize pumping losses, and coasting (with the motor running) to stops. If I'm going to have a lot of excess energy while the light is still red, I double clutch to 2nd or 3rd and coast in gear (I think my computer shuts off the fuel entirely when I do this).

Many of the techniques advocated here, such as some of the ones listed above, ignoring stops, tailgating, extremely fast cornering, etc. seem to dramatically decrease safety. Even if we ignore the fact that ones life is ones most valuable asset and can not be replaced, the expense of one accident, and the environmental cost of the repair or new car, can dramatically outweigh all of the savings from years, or even a lifetime, of hypermiling. Even something like not using the AC on a hot day can fit in this category, as I find I'm a less attentive driver when I'm very hot and uncomfortable- not to mention that if you don't use your AC semi-regularly it is more likely to have a compressor problem, leading to an expensive repair that more than offsets the cost of any fuel you saved.

I'm not here merely to wag a finger. I did a search and didn't see much if any discussion on issues such as this, and it seems to be a very important topic. It'd be interesting to start a discussion on techniques with minimal safety impact, and how other proposed techniques may be penny wise but dollar foolish.

Thoughts?
-@dam

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Old 05-06-2008, 09:31 AM   #2 (permalink)
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You'll find that most folks on this forum aren't radically overinflating their tires, just to the limit stated on the sidewall - and most of them are looking for tires with the 44psi rating. I've gone to that level on both my cars and experienced no ill effects beyond having to go a little farther before I can stop at a gas station to buy a Coke.

As for turning off the ignition and accidentally also locking the steering, I removed my lock and filed off the locking pin that catches the steering post: one risk removed. Of course, not everyone is going to take that step, and it makes your vehicle slightly more subject to theft, but mine is definitely not a high-risk target. Peeling paint and an age perhaps better described as "vintage" are strong deterrents.

It's ecomodder for a reason - we're willing to make modifications to our vehicles to be able to squeeze every last inch out of every last drop of fuel. Those mods may be aerodynamic, weight-reducing, and in my example, safety-oriented.

Driving is never without risk. You pays your money and takes your chances.
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Old 05-06-2008, 10:18 AM   #3 (permalink)
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My tires give me better cornering traction at high inflation pressure. I have several back-road corners that I test daily.

I don't think you'll find anyone advocating running stop signs and lights or tailgating or anything like that. You can get a nice mileage boost by following a truck even 3 seconds back. I generally don't even do that, because the trucks are going too fast to begin with.

You do bring up some good points, but be careful about jumping to conclusions.
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Old 05-06-2008, 10:58 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by @dam View Post
Many of the techniques advocated here, such as some of the ones listed above, ignoring stops, tailgating, extremely fast cornering, etc. seem to dramatically decrease safety.
First off welcome to the site. Glad you stopped by to see whats going on.


As for your post on safety, I don't really think we advocate any of these techniques... I think your taking things a bit far here to the point of being out of context. There is no way we would advocate techniques that would endanger people. Yes, the techniques here require practice and skill to use, but so does driving in general. As a hypermiler one of the fundamentals is being aware of your driving environment: what cars are around you, stops up ahead, speed limits, etc. Many normal drivers pay little attention to many of these factors. I'm on a number of car related message boards and I can say from personal experience that I have seen way more messages related to accidents on the horsepower/racing oriented boards versus the hypermiling boards.
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Old 05-06-2008, 01:29 PM   #5 (permalink)
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When driving to maximize MPG, safety is always a factor. I have three young sons who are watching me as their role model. I take this role very seriously. When it comes time for them to be drivers, I want them to be prepared and to know what is acceptable and what is not.
I share with them the reasons I drive so conservatively. Sure we discuss the other techniques out there, but we also discuss their dangers.

There is plenty that can be done to hypermile and ecomod a vehicle that does not involve doing dangerous things
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Old 05-06-2008, 05:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The important thing to remember -- if you're not comfortable with it, don't do it.

We don't advocate folks going out and doing this in traffic for the first time. It takes practice and getting to know your vehicle first, then implementing techniques and practices.

Having an automatic, I can't take they key out unless it's in Park.

I have performed an emergency stop with the engine off. Vehicles generally have one good pump before the pedal gets stiff. I always turn the key back to the "On" position, which engages the ABS. Antilock brakes work fine on my car with the engine off.

I'm one of those 50-lb pressure guys: but I insist on high quality tires and inspections.

Bottom line: I'm a safer driver because of this philosophy. I used to be a road-raged idiot and performance driver. Hypermiling has slowed me down, and mellowed me out.

And for that, I give thanks to everyone along the way who has changed my life for the better

Best FE to ya...

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Old 05-06-2008, 06:24 PM   #7 (permalink)
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While some of the techniques are illegal, they are not required to partake in the sport. The interest and level of commitment vary from your level to the extreme. Knowing how to achieve the ultimate mileage doesn't necessarily mean it is being sought after.

I think one of the biggest aspects of hypermiling is observing safety. While members may shut off their engine, I think you'll find that they have a very thorough understanding of the function of their automobile, the risks involved, and the amount of skill required. While there are no perfect drivers, I think hypermilers are among the safest on the road.

As far as the A/C failing from disuse, I wouldn't worry too much over the issue. I live in an area where 100+F temperatures are common and have never felt the effects of heat stroke (delusions, light-headedness, etc.), but if you are a sufferer then there are other remedies (evaporative cooling, ice vest, sucking on ice). If the A/C breaks down from disuse, uninstall the thing...it takes up weight.

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Old 05-06-2008, 11:00 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I tend to skirt legality ... or at least safety.

While pacing traffic, I can follow a bit close ... although this tends to happen at speeds less than 10mph as I am approaching cars stopped at lights ... hoping they will begin moving again before i get there so I don't have to come to a complete stop.

I also follow trucks at distances of around 65-75 feet or so on the highway ... even closer in denser traffic when everyojne is close. The day I can't out-brake a tractor trailer or other massive truck is the day I hang up my keys for good.

I do rolling stops at stop signs ... but 80% of the motoring public will do that if they think there is no police in sight. At least I am doing it slowly, carefully to save gas ... and not out of sheer impatience so I can go rocketing up to 10+ mph over the speed limit again.

Overall, I have a very good safety record and don't feel I'm putting anyone else in danger by my fuelish habits.
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Old 05-06-2008, 11:02 PM   #9 (permalink)
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"If the A/C breaks down from disuse, uninstall the thing...it takes up weight."

Or at the very least cut the belt to reduce mechanical drag and the chance that you might seize the pulley.
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Old 05-06-2008, 11:18 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by @dam View Post
Many of the techniques advocated here, such as some of the ones listed above, ignoring stops, tailgating, extremely fast cornering, etc. seem to dramatically decrease safety. Even if we ignore the fact that ones life is ones most valuable asset and can not be replaced, the expense of one accident, and the environmental cost of the repair or new car, can dramatically outweigh all of the savings from years, or even a lifetime, of hypermiling. Even something like not using the AC on a hot day can fit in this category, as I find I'm a less attentive driver when I'm very hot and uncomfortable- not to mention that if you don't use your AC semi-regularly it is more likely to have a compressor problem, leading to an expensive repair that more than offsets the cost of any fuel you saved.

Thoughts?
-@dam
Welcome to the site.

I think if you look through threads here most do not advocate ignoring stops, tailgating, extremely fast cornering, etc. I think the only sticking point would be EOC (engine off coasting). Look through the threads and the common denominator is drive with a purpose; Instrumentation, slow down, plan your routes, look ahead, check your tire pressures, and aero mods(grill block, belly pans).

As one who does not EOC the good news is you can turn in some really big numbers with just those 6 things listed above.

Enjoy the site and good luck with your FE pursuit.

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