Every dollar saved is significant when you’re on a tight budget. But managing finances can become even more challenging during inflation as prices skyrocket and impact necessities like food, gas, and shelter. Despite continuous rising costs of living, being aware of how you spend your money can help you stay within your budget and save a little extra.
But is it possible to be frugal while you drive? Are there habits you can change that will benefit your gas tank and wallet in the long run? Let’s look!
How Does City Driving Impact Gas Mileage?
When you buy a car, a Fuel Economy and Environment label will likely come with it, listing city, highway, and combined MPG (miles per gallon) values. The data will also display an estimated fuel cost over five years compared to the average new car. Yet, upon looking at the label, you’ll quickly find that the vehicle gets better gas mileage on the highway than in the city. And this rings true for all vehicles. Why?
When you drive on the highway, you burn through less gas because you don’t have to start and stop your vehicle as frequently. In cities, the constant accelerating and stopping uses more energy, and thus more gas, due to the street lights and stop signs you encounter. So, what else burns through gas and what steps can you take to conserve it?
Does Cruise Control Save Gas on Highways?
While accelerating and braking cause cars to burn through gas faster, so does driving at varying speeds. According to information released by Natural Resources Canada, traveling between 47 and 53 mph every 18 seconds can increase fuel consumption by 20%. However, setting your car’s cruise control can help keep your tank filled longer. That said, how much gas you save exactly is debatable, and the numbers vary among reports.
A 2019 study by Volvo and the National Renewable Fuel Laboratory suggests that using adaptive cruise control on the highway can increase fuel economy by 5-7%. Instead of fluctuating your car’s pace up and down, cruise control keeps you driving steadily. In fact, the federal website for fuel economy information notes how rapid acceleration and braking lowers gas mileage by roughly 15% to 30% at highway speeds. But when driving through an area full of hills or mountains, gentle acceleration and coasting on the decline is more advantageous to maximize fuel efficiency than employing cruise control.
Can You Boost Fuel Efficiency by Changing Other Driving Habits?
As a driver, there are several habits you can form to promote fuel efficiency and help prolong the life of your vehicle. To start, being proactive before heading out on the road by tracking the shortest routes will save you gas, time, and frustration. You can access traffic conditions, construction zones, and suggestions for the fastest available ways by downloading a top-rated navigation app to your phone.
In addition to monitoring traffic and road conditions, you might also:
- Keep cargo off your roof. Unless necessary, like taking a road trip and needing the extra storage, removing your car’s external cargo carrier can save you a generous amount of fuel when traveling—6% to 17% on the highway, 2% to 8% in the city, and 10% to 25% on the interstate. The weight of the cargo causes “aerodynamic drag” or wind resistance, resulting in increased fuel consumption.
- Routinely monitor tire pressure. Driving with under-inflated tires can negatively affect their lifespan and your car’s fuel economy. Therefore, it’s critical to keep an eye on the numbers and fill your tires as soon as you notice the PSI (pounds per square inch) starting to drop. All manufacturers include a recommended pressure level, with most falling between 30-36 PSI. Once that number takes a nosedive, you increase the risk of tire blowouts, loss of control, and more rapid wear and tear.
- Avoid idling. As one of the most well-known vehicle maintenance myths, warming your car in the driveway is unnecessary and wasteful. In addition, idling in a parking lot or the side of the road will consume fuel and send you back to the pump sooner.
Will Proactive Car Care Save You Even More?
If expanding your car’s fuel economy and saving money is on your mind, then investing in a reliable breakdown protection plan should be too. Suppose you face tire problems, a dead battery, or deteriorating parts. With an extended car warranty, you can relax knowing you can access roadside help, rental car benefits, or coverage to visit your mechanic.
Shield yourself from unplanned expenses by finding the best car warranty program for your budget before it’s too late. Start by exploring our top recommendations and in-depth reviews based on our experiences with several well-rated auto warranty providers.