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AAA Warns Against Hypermiling

Posted: Jun 30, 2008 11:19 a.m.

As gas prices skyrocket, Americans are increasingly studying the techniques of a fringe group of drivers who work to maximize their fuel efficiency -- so-called "hypermilers."  Now, a major automotive group has warned motorists against the trend.

The Orlando Sentinel reports, "The AAA auto club issued a warning this morning that some gas-savings techniques being popularized through a 'hypermiling' fad can be dangerous and should be avoided."  While AAA says some hypermiling techniques are safe, a new AAA advisory warns "that such hypermiling techniques as cutting a vehicle's engine or putting a vehicle in neutral to coast on a roadway, tailgating or drafting larger vehicles, or rolling through stop signs and driving at erratic and unsafe speeds should not be used. The auto club also warned drivers against some maintenance fads, such as over-inflating tires, which can improve gas mileage but can make vehicles unsafe."

TechnoRide adds that some of the techniques, "like coasting in neutral gear, are more controversial, since more experienced drivers -- particularly those operating cars with manual transmissions -- may be able to apply them safely."

USA Today has published an evaluation of some of the more controversial techniques, after consulting with tire manufacturers, consumer researchers and green car experts. It's a worthwhile read, to which we would add just this: use common sense.  If a hypermiling technique you've read about works within traffic laws, there's probably no harm in trying it. If it involves running stop signs, tailgating or driving outside marked lanes, it's probably asking for trouble.  There are safer ways to save on gas.

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