From the Hybrid Shop: How to Maximize Your Fuel Economy
As hybrid vehicles gain an increasingly strong foothold in the marketplace and on the road, fuel efficiency has become a vital talking point when it comes to cars and car sales. What was once little more than an afterthought in the public consciousness is now front and center, especially amongst the growing community of hybrid vehicle owners. From regular, routine maintenance to proactive driving techniques, hybrid drivers have devised loads of tricks and tips for attaining optimal fuel economy. Some are more effective than others, but we’ll share a few of our favorites below…
Tires and Air Pressure for Hybrid Vehicles
Sometimes, achieving maximum fuel economy with a hybrid requires little more maintenance than you would already–ideally–put into a traditional car. Most vehicle owners don’t spend much time worrying about the air pressure in their tires, but ignoring it can be a fatal blow to your car’s performance and fuel efficiency. Inflating your tires to the appropriate pressure can often cause an instant and appreciable increase in MPG’s.
While keeping an active eye on air pressure is a good idea regardless of whether you drive a Prius or an 18-wheeler, many hybrid car owners don’t necessarily focus on the type of tires they’re putting on their vehicles. Devoid of any direction from the dealership or an aftermarket specialist, some hybrid drivers just slap any old tires on their car without thinking about the effect that their tires can have on fuel economy. Depending on the type of driving that you do and the conditions in which you do it, low rolling resistance tires can be a great way to see an uptick in fuel efficiency with minimal effort.
“Low-rollers” don’t create quite as much grip between the tire and the road as do standard tires, which lightens the load on the engine during acceleration and lets the car maintain velocity for a longer period of time while coasting, resulting in both increased fuel economy and a smoother ride. While you may not be doing much off-roading with low-rollers, you’ll certainly be happy with the effects they have on your gas gauge.
Battery Conditioning: How to Bring Your Hybrid’s Battery Back to Life
Alongside regular maintenance such as oil changes and filter replacements, buying the right tires and keeping them inflated can play a major role in maximizing fuel economy. But time and time again, we’ve seen hybrid owners who heed that advice but remain unconvinced that their vehicle is really attaining maximum efficiency. In our experience, the mystery variable for fuel economy, especially for aging vehicles, is often battery condition.
Hybrid owners accustomed to getting 47 or 48 miles to the gallon in their new hybrid are quickly dismayed when that number dips into the low 30’s. But after years of research and development, through the trial and error that comes with experience, we’ve found that by conditioning and/or rebuilding the battery pack, we can often push fuel economy right back up into the mid to high 40’s.
When it comes to hybrid vehicle performance, the battery pack is often the elephant in the room: often ignored, but throwing around a lot of heft. Car owners are used to thinking about traditional vehicle performance, which stems from the engine, but hybrids derive much of their power–and therefore, much of their fuel economy–from their battery packs. Conditioning an aging battery pack can often be just what a hybrid vehicle needs to get its fuel economy back up in the range that made it such an attractive purchase in the first place.
Do you have any tips for achieving maximum fuel efficiency in your hybrid car? Questions about some of the techniques mentioned above? Feel free to leave a message for us in the comments section below, or contact us directly.
HECN is happy to welcome the TheHybridShop.com, a new green automotive startup, as our first Service Advisor. The mission of The Hybrid Shop is to “provide the highest quality maintenance, service and repair experience for hybrid electric vehicle owners.” Read more about them and servicing hybrid electric cars here. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Google Plus, and YouTube.
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