There are those who have a need for speed, others who prefer to be overly cautious, and then there’s the person who always drives on cruise control. Each of these people will all need to refuel at some point, but who will be the last one to the gas station? Maybe you’ve heard this line before – using cruise control saves gas. Is it just a myth or could it be a fact? Continue reading to learn more about cruise control and fuel efficiency from the fuel delivery experts at HSO.
Cruise Control Explained
Before jumping into this gas myth, let’s first explain cruise control. It’s a built-in electronic system that uses cables and sensors to help a vehicle maintain a consistent speed. Essentially, it takes control of the throttle so that drivers no longer have to press the gas pedal down. They can still increase and decrease the speed thanks to buttons for accelerating and decelerating, while stepping on the brake will turn off the system.
Fuel Efficiency and Speed
The U.S. Department of Energy states that “aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas.” This makes good sense as engines consume fuel to provide power and speed. The more reckless one drives, the more gas they lose. That’s especially true on the highway where people tend to drive above the speed limit to get to their destination quicker. The department adds that “you can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.17 per gallon for gas.” Here’s where cruise control really works – if it’s set to the speed limit or just under, drivers can save gas.
In fact, according to CBS News, a national speed limit was set at 55 mph in 1974 (due to an oil embargo) until 1995. Studies showed that 167,000 barrels of oil a day were saved during that time. That means a lot less people were fueling up as often as before.
Climb Hills Manually
At the same time, additional outside factors to speeding can muddle cruise control’s ability to save gas. One of those is driving on a hilly road, as gravity will slow drivers down while they climb up. Engines on cruise control, however, start to work harder to maintain their speed by accelerating automatically. As vehicles reach the peak and start to descend, the brakes will engage to prevent their speed from rising above the current setting. That brings us right back to rapid acceleration and braking, which wastes gas. The best way to handle multiple hills is to turn off cruise control and manually speed up and slow down as needed.
Avoid Cruise Control in Bad Weather
No matter how much gas could be saved, drivers should never use cruise control while it’s raining hard, snowing, or when ice might be present on the roads. AAA explains that certain speeds can cause a vehicle to hydroplane, skid, or even spin on slippery roads. Safety is always more important than saving money.
Examining the Myth with HSO
When it comes to the myth of using cruise control to save gas, we’d have to say it all depends on how you use it. Cruise control can be a magnificent tool for saving gas unless you set it well over the speed limit or keep it on while driving up and down hills. If that’s the case, then you’ll find yourself stopping more often at gas stations like Express Mart to fuel back up sooner than expected.
After many years in the fuel delivery business, HSO knows a thing or two about gasoline. That’s why we’ve been looking into several gas myths and explaining why they may or may not be true. Follow our blog to check other ones such as leaving the engine running while pumping gas, if cooler weather really affects gas mileage, and if gas expires.