[New York Post]
He’s really pumped up.
In 2006, Wayne Gerdes of San Diego, Calif., broke the Guinness World Record for the longest distance traveled on a single tank of gasoline, clocking 2,254.4 miles in a 2001 Honda Insight Hybrid and averaging 164 miles per gallon.
“The low fuel light was on for over 300 miles before I finally ran out of fuel,” he told The Post.
This past weekend, some California stations were charging as much as $6.95 a gallon. With news that the US could be just weeks away from shattering the national record — $4.11 a gallon in July 2008 — for average gas prices, because of the Russia-Ukraine war, Gerdes is the man of the hour.
A former nuclear power plant worker, he turned his attentions to fuel efficiency in the wake of 9/11 when, in retaliation for the attacks, he decided to try to limit his reliance on Saudi oil.
“Saudi oil money right from the US and around the world provided the bin Laden family with riches beyond compare,” he said. “Bin Laden himself performed a horrific act with some of those millions and the reverberations are still being felt today.”
What started out as his own personal protest soon became an obsession.
Since then, the gas guru has been setting records left and right. He did 472 miles on a single charge of a 2021 Porsche Taycan that was only meant to do 225, and got 1,675 miles out of just one tank of diesel in a 2013 VW Passat.
Gerdes, 59, coined the phrase “hypermiling” in 2004 in a bid to define the tricks, tactics and techniques he employs to conserve fuel and maximize mileage.
Today, he runs the hypermiling forum CleanMPG.com, where tens of thousands of fellow cost-conscious motorists swap tips on extracting the most from their motors.
Gerdes, who drives a 2021 Toyota Prius Prime hybrid, believes anyone can beat the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating for their vehicle, no matter the car they drive. “I’m always trying to find new ways to improve economy,” he said. “With every new vehicle release, the fun is discovering its efficiency limits.”
And while some of his tips are a little out there — like driving barefoot to lighten your lead foot — even his wife of 30 years, Marian, has taken up the hypermiling baton.
“She beats the EPA about two-thirds of the time she drives,” he said. “Sometimes she doesn’t follow the posted speed limit (PSL) but I make sure she does when I’m in the car.”
Here are some of Gerdes’ best tips for squeezing all you can out of a gallon of gas.
Drive with load
Driving with load basically does the same thing as cruise control — with the driver keeping a steady and consistent pressure on the accelerator pedal, thereby using less gas. It’s particularly useful when you’re climbing small hills. “Your speed will change naturally — lower when climbing and higher when descending — but from the start of the elevation to the final elevation, your speed remains the same as you never changed pressure on the accelerator pedal,” Gerdes explained.
Love the long glide
If you’re exiting a highway and there’s an off-ramp ahead, start to slow down without using the brakes. “Just glide it for as long as possible so you transfer as much of your kinetic energy into distance,” he said.
Ridge-ride in the rain
Edge your car a little to the right, closer to the sidewalk, during wet conditions. By not driving in the water that collects in a road’s well-worn grooves, you’ll get a smoother — and therefore more gas-efficient — ride.
Kill that speed
Simply sticking to the posted speed limit can extend a tank of gas by up 20 percent. “Speed kills economy,” added Gerdes. “Driving faster does not necessarily get you to your destination faster but it will cost you at the pump or the charger — and your wallet!”
Go easy on the acceleration
Don’t just floor the pedal — accelerate slowly but steadily. “If a fully loaded 18-wheeler ahead of you is accelerating to 60 miles per hour in 45 to 60 seconds, why do you want to pass them?” Gerdes said. “Just accelerate with them and pass only after you are both up to speed.”
Be a better braker
Accelerating from a standing start is bad for fuel economy, so if you see a red light ahead, slow down and try timing things so that you can glide through without stopping once it changes to green. “Hopefully you will arrive at the light with some speed as it turns green and you can accelerate back up to your target speed using a lot less energy,” Gerdes said. “Let the speed racer next to you beat you to that light ahead. And then wave to them when you go by at speed and they are accelerating from a stop.”