Record-high gasoline prices emphasize the real savings hybrid owners enjoy on the cost of fuel. But for many, that's just the starting point. Seeing fuel economy feedback on the dash inspires some drivers to push for even better mpg. Here are some tips to help get you there.
HOW TO GET THE MOST FROM YOUR HYBRID - TOYOTA'S RECOMMENDATIONS
Toyota offers advice about improving mileage on the Prius FAQ page, as well as on the Understanding Fuel Economy white paper. Here are some additional tips for getting the most out of your mileage:
- Keep tire pressure at recommended levels; under-inflated tires use more gas.
- Avoid driving at speeds that are higher than necessary, especially on the highway.
- Avoid jackrabbit starts and, when possible, avoid sudden stops.
- Don't carry items in the car that you don't need; additional weight means lower mileage.
- Use air conditioning in moderation.
HYBRID DRIVERS WEIGH IN
The mileage tips below come straight from hybrid drivers, and contribute to facilitating the sharing of ideas in the hybrid community.
One hybrid owner offers an imaginative analogy for getting the "Zen" of thrifty hybrid driving:
"Imagine pedaling a bicycle with your own leg power. You cruise as much as possible. No need to go full throttle before a stop. Glide to a stop instead. Don't race to cruising speed. Take it easy on the engine just as you would on your legs."
Another hybrid owner counters this approach, suggesting that rapid acceleration to speed followed by cruising is actually more efficient, though counterintuitive. Perhaps the best thing is to try both and see for yourself.
Adding to the old debate over driving with the air conditioning on or the windows open, one Prius owner suggests that with a Prius, keeping the windows open is more economical. The rationale: Battery drain from air conditioning uses more gasoline than aerodynamic drag caused by open windows.
Remember that for every mph above 55 in a Prius, you could lose up to one mpg, mostly due to atmospheric drag -- even with its advanced aerodynamic body.
Common-sense maintenance also leads to good mileage. Change oil on the maintenance schedule and don't use heavier oil than is recommended in the owner's manual. Heavier oil can mean mpg-robbing drag on the engine. Inspect your air filter and replace it on the maintenance schedule or as needed. A choking engine uses more gas.
TECHNIQUES OF A MILEAGE CHAMPION
Some Prius owners keep pushing the hybrid mileage envelope to the max. Five of these "hypermileage" enthusiasts recently teamed up and set a record of nearly 110 mpg in a marathon economy run.
Hypermileage techniques are not for everyday driving. They have to be practiced in controlled conditions and then become "second nature" because of the attention that must be paid to the dashboard display at first. Here is a description of how Dan Kroushl, one of the marathoners, adapts hypermileage techniques to daily driving in his Prius:
"On the highway, I just set cruise control to 55 mph and go. In city driving, during acceleration or maintaining speed uphill, I use the deadband technique. This means no flow to or from the battery while accelerating. I glide (no flow at all, engine is stopped) during mild downhill stretches. I apply the brakes (regenerative) on steeper downhill stretches to keep my speed below 42 mph.
"I do this because the motor-generators (MGs) reach their maximum rpm at about 42 mph, which forces the engine to run to prevent damage to the MGs. So at speeds above 42, the engine must run, which creates added friction. This must be compensated for to maintain speed, causing a reduction in fuel economy.
"When coming to a stop I coast (foot off the accelerator) until the stop. While braking and coasting, a small amount of energy is regenerated to maintain the battery level. I use this technique on my daily commute which is 50% highway at 55 mph and 50% city at 35 mph. Depending on environmental variables, during the summer my fuel economy ranges from 67 to 72 mpg."
Conventional driving techniques will not give you the maximum mileage your hybrid vehicle is capable of achieving. If you modify your driving habits using one or more of the advanced driving tips above, let us know what tips worked best for you!!!
The above mileage tips were found from several sources by doing a web search for 'Prius mileage tips'. We may update or modify these tips at our discretion. Please feel free to contact us with your own service tips for possible inclusion!