IT Pilgrimage

A Journey From IT to Freedom


Hypermiling, the idea sounded great, so I thought I would give it a try. Lots of the personal finance bloggers have been talking about it off and on for a couple of months, so it seemed worth an attempt. I have put it together here as a page for easy access.

To start with, I read a lot of the info at, and to be frank, some of it was just too extreme for me. First I measured my original gas mileage, and on a 2004 Mazda 3, it was running about 24 miles per gallon. I measured over three months and this remained pretty consistent. Then, I changed a few things, and here is what I changed:

  • No more racing to keep up with the pack, set your cruise control below 70 and use it as much as
  • No tailgating ever! Forget a car length, leave 3 or 4 car lengths between you and the person in front
    of you.
  • Let off the gas as soon as you see brake lights.
  • Let off the gas as soon as you see a light turn red.
  • Clean out the car

That was it that is all I did. These five things brought my gas mileage up to approximately 33 miles per gallon. So, monetarily, it’s worth it, but mentally, now of that I am not so sure. Really, the only true answer is, it depends. It’s all a matter of using your brakes as little as possible. Truthfully though, its not quite that easy, so let’s break it down one point at a time.

Don’t Be a Pack Animal

This one sounds a lot easier than it really is because the problem here is really an emotional one. This took me almost two months to master, and I still break my own rules sometime. The theory here is that you go as fast as you go, and who cares about everyone else. All those people racing ahead at 75 for half a mile until they hit traffic, you will catch up to them again soon enough.

No Tailgating

Tailgating has become a way of life on America highways. Drivers are rude and inconsiderate of each other. They clearly do not consider the consequences of their actions, or the effect they have on others. Every time one person cuts off someone else, three or four other people get to slam on their brakes too. So how do you avoid it? That too is a problem, and also a purely emotional one. The only way to avoid their little games is to leave AT LEAST 3 to 5 car lengths space. The smaller the car in front of you, or if you cannot see over or around the vehicle, the more space you need to leave. This is because you now care, not just about the car in front of you, but traffic as a whole. Now, be aware, you will get cut off. You will get cut off every couple of seconds, but you have to learn not to care. That is definitely easier said than done.

Red Means Stop

These two are really closely related, so I am going to merge them here. Any time you see brake lights, be it at a red light, or on the highway, you let off your gas. Do you ever see the people racing up to a red light, only to slam on their brakes and the rocket off again as soon as the light turns green? Do you ever notice how you catch back up to them at the next light? Well, now you can look at them and laugh, because you realize how much gas they are wasting. There is no point in racing to catch up with the car in front of you that is hitting their brakes.

Clean Your Car

Now this one should be the easy one. Take any extra junk out of your car that you don’t need. Those 4 jackets still in the car in June, you probably don’t need those. The three books or twenty pounds of mail, get rid of it. Every pound you can save makes a difference.

So in a nutshell, that’s it. The theory is real simple, every time you hit your brakes, you have just wasted gas. There are really two problems with the whole process; the first being that you become cut-off bait and the second being that people will get MAD. When I say that people will get mad, I mean that you better keep your windows up and your doors locked mad.

For some reason I can’t fathom, people get a little crazy when you are not tailgating the car in front of you and they can see a little daylight. You will get the weavers, the light flickers, the tailgaters, you know the real road ragers. Have courage little pilgrim!<

My conclusion being that Hypermiling is worth it to save gas. If you are trying to lower your stress level, well, then this is definitely not for you. Hypermiling is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage and planning not to immediately hit your brakes every time someone else does. I hope this helps anyone who was thinking about trying it. Go forth with confidence.

Photo by ximenatapia

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