We all know the tricks and tips for hypermiling your car to maximize efficiency, but what if there was a legitimate need to run down your fuel at a rapid pace? What is the best method to do so while staying safe, legal and not causing damage to your car?


Why would you need to purposefully get bad gas mileage? Sometimes you need service on your car and the mechanic wants it as empty as possible. This has happened to me twice. The first time was on my wife’s Sienna when it needed a new evaporation sensor in the fuel tank, in order to test the sensor the car had to be between a fourth and three-fourths full. This fuel window is fairly easy to achieve, but the recall on my Volkswagen proved to be a bit trickier.

My 2015 GTI is subject to a recall on the suction pump inside the fuel tank. If not remedied, it has the potential to cause a fuel leak and cause fiery death. That is not something I need, so I called the dealer to make an appointment.

The fix is apparently pretty easy but it requires the technician to reach into the fuel tank to make the repair. Since no mechanic wants to be dunking their arm into a tank full of gasoline, they have asked me to bring my Volkswagen in with as empty as possible.

My strategy was to drive all week and drop the car off early on Saturday. Now I thought I planned this out well with my fuel use, but then I needed gas a day sooner than I had anticipated. I figured that $10 worth of premium on Wednesday should ration the fuel until Saturday. I did not realize that $10 would fill my tank half way. I had never put a specific dollar amount in before, I just fill it up when it calls for it. So now I had two days to run the gas down as fast as possible without doing something crazy like towing a boat.


I employed two basic strategies: use MAXIMUM acceleration whenever I could safely and legally do so and cruise around in a lower gear than I normally would. The plan worked and I dropped the car off at the dealer with less than 5 miles to empty.

However, I figure there have got to be more creative ways to drain the fuel tank without destroying your car or going to jail, and I can’t think of a better audience to come up with ideas on how to get horrendous gas mileage on purpose.

Tom is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He saves people money and takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. (Facebook.com/AutomatchConsulting)

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