I’m sure you’ve heard just about everything in the book and some of you have probably tried those gimmicky store bought additives in an effort to boost your gas mileage. First of all, all those additives you buy don’t do jack squat, some have actually decreased vehicle gas mileage. Also, most of the “backyard” tweaks you’ve heard about, don’t work. If it were that easy, it would become standard on all vehicles… you might say that the car companies are vested in the oil industry… but they are also vested in providing people vehicles that have the highest gas mileage.
Well, I, have used a technique that increases my gas mileage by over 100%… it was proven to work on mythbusters and I knew it before it ever aired. I’ll get to that later.
The Mythbusters alone have debunked many of these myths… and the fact they have several episodes in regards to gas mileage, shows how important/wanted it is in today’s society. I’ll list the episodes I can find at the bottom of the page.
Every year I drive from Iowa to Illinois (and vice versa) multiple times. The trip is almost exactly 5 hours when I maintain a speed of around 70 mph. My gas tank in my Wrangler is around 20 gallons… So I spend roughly $60 for a one way trip, or $120 for round trip (which is usually the case). When I drive normally, I will go through almost exactly 1 tank of gas, down to the last few drops.
Now, the trick… drafting. Any fan of NASCAR should understand this concept, although, I’ve seen some of the “regulars” at those events, haha. Jokes aside, it is a scientific fact you will get better gas mileage when you draft. Bicyclists, speed skaters, marathon runners, skiers, and even geese do it. I’m an undergraduate in Aerospace Engineering here at Iowa State and the base equation for this is:
The drag coefficient is just a constant and it has to do with how well something “slips” through the air. You can see with this that drag force will increase exponentially as you increase your speed. So driving faster, even by 5 mph, can seriously detriment your gas mileage… especially above 65 mph. The frontal area is obvious, something that is bigger will have more air to push out of the way. The greater the drag force, the worse the gas mileage. Of course the type of engine and tires and transmission, etc, can affect this but you can’t change that while you’re driving.
The Mythbusters said to follow a semi-truck, but this works with any vehicle! Essentially, you are mooching off the leading vehicle’s aerodynamic affects. The bigger the vehicle, the more air it pushes out of the way and the less you have hitting the front of your car. This decreases your drag force on the car and allows the engine to maintain the same speed without doing as much work.
You can think of it like this… if wind is blowing from west to east and you are behind a wall on the east side, the wall will block you from the wind. Now just reverse it, the air is standing still but you and the wall are moving from east to west… the wall will still block the air from hitting you. Thus, you will have less drag force. So a NASCAR will (for a few seconds) be able to drive faster when maneuvering around another car he just drafted because there is now more room for the engine to perform, even when both are pedal to the metal.
This technique also allows you to drive faster AND save gas if you have perfected and understand the technique. Now, this can be dangerous if you don’t know exactly what you are doing. You DO NOT need to tailgate the vehicle to get the benefits, you can be up to 50 ft behind a vehicle and get some benefits (based off personal experience). Be smart about it and ALWAYS be courteous. If the front driver appears to be getting agitated, stop doing it and move on to another vehicle.
I once sat behind the same 18-wheeler for about 4 of the 5 hours and got about 125% the gas milleage. I went from about 20 mpg to almost 50. Which saves me over $60 dollars on this round trip and it didn’t take less time to get where I was going. What normally is 2 full tanks of gas for this round trip ended up being just under 1 full tank of gas.
This was the best instance I have ever had, but I always draft and always notice the benefits. On a normal drive I will probably get an added 10 mpg… which is still substantial. I have once gotten a line of 4 cars to drive together and every 30 minutes or so we would rotate the leading car and the front car would go to the back of the line… everyone benefited from this as well. I find it funny when I see a guy blow by me on the highway going maybe 85 in his truck… I just laugh because I know how much gas he’s sucking up at that speed with that sized vehicle. He’ll probably have to stop and fill up and I’ll get to my destination sooner because I won’t have to stop at a gas pump.
So if you practice this regularly, even for short trips… in the long run you will save thousands of dollars over the course of the lifetime of the car. Just think if a Prius drafted a semi-truck!! It would probably run forever!!
Will Only Right Turns Save You Gas: http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/mythbusters-waterslide-wipeout/
Will a dirty car or clean car get better gas mileage: http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/mythbusters-dirty-vs-clean-car/
The Great Gas Conspiracy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=715kifXe4-Q
Golf ball pockets on cars increase gas mileage
Mood changes affect gas mileage.
Driving with the tailgate up/down saves gas mileage.
Does AC affect mileage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPZlD187hw4