There are several reasons you might want to save gas, be it due to skyrocketing fuel prices or in an effort to reduce your carbon footprint. Turning off your A/C and opening the windows might save gas, but is there any other way? What about cruise control, can this feature help you save gas?
In this article, you will learn if cruise control truly does save gas and how this system affects your car. You will also find other helpful tips on how to save on fuel. Read on to find out.
Does Cruise Control Save Gas?
Cruise control does save gas. The function of this system is to throttle the speed of your car so it maintains a steady pace. So if you set your car to cruise, that means you have slowed down the speed of your vehicle, thereby saving gas.
If you drive without cruise control you will most likely end up accelerating and then decelerating constantly, no matter how diligent you are. This change in speed uses more gas than if you were to move at a slower, steadier pace.
Also, consider a scenario where you have a larger, slower vehicle in front of you. You might get impatient and speed up to drive around it.
Without this setting turned on, you will probably have to accelerate at full force to get ahead of the vehicle as quickly as possible. This abrupt acceleration can cause you to burn a lot of fuel to get up to speed.
However, if you have cruise control on, you can increase your speed in 1-mph increments with the push of a button. In this way, you can get around the driver at a regulated pace and save gas while doing so.
While this feature can be useful for long trips on the highway, cruise control is not always the best way to save gas.
When Does Cruise Control Not Save Gas?
The cruise control system is optimal for long straight roads, as well as long uphill and downhill roads with minimal curves.
However, on curvy hills or mountainous terrain, it is best to turn off cruise control and to drive using an average speed. This is because as you climb the hill, your car will slow by some mph, then rise back up as you go downhill.
While these kinds of roads take up energy and gas, you can recover most of that energy once you get over the hill and drive downward. So, leaving cruise control on is not necessarily a bad idea.
Effectiveness of Cruise Control
According to a study done by the National Renewable Fuel Laboratory and Volvo in 2019, an adaptive cruise can improve fuel economy by up to 7% as opposed to driving manually.
With an adaptive cruise control system, the car accelerates and decelerates at a steady pace, keeping a specific distance between it and the vehicles in front of it.
Regardless of if your car has conventional or adaptive cruise control, it is designed to identify uphill or downhill roads and to speed up or slow down accordingly. These speeds vary based on the car and the system.
Some systems are more powerful than others, meaning that when the car is climbing a hill, the engine speed will increase faster, it will move faster for longer, and the transition to downshift will be faster.
In some cases, you will lose more fuel leaving your car in cruise control than patiently driving at a slower pace. However, when you are driving on a flat road, cruise control works best to reduce gas consumption.
How Much Gas Does Cruise Control Save?
By reducing the number of times your car slows down and then accelerates, you keep it at a steady pace, which is more efficient for the transmission and engine. This is what reduces fuel consumption.
While this works in theory, there is not a lot of recent research to back it up. However, a study done by Natural Resources Canada showed that placing a car on cruise control at 49.8 mph compared to driving between 46.6 and 52.8 mph every 18 seconds saves about 20% more fuel.
You are also less likely to experience motion sickness with cruise control. Other sources like CNN have made similar claims but with less convincing percentages.
With that said, these statistics will vary depending on the driver and the car they are using and there is no exact way to calculate how much fuel cruise control actually saves.
Which Uses More Gas? Powering A/C or Opening Windows?
It all depends on the type of car you are using. Depending on the vehicle, there is a speed at which lowering the windows causes more energy usage than powering the A/C.
This is especially true with older, less aerodynamic models of cars that use basic air conditioning systems. It is usually best to open the windows while driving at average speeds and to blast the A/C at high speeds.
However, with newer models of cars that run on climate control systems, humidity sensors, and other technologies, it is best and more economical to power the A/C all the time.
Additionally, the more aerodynamic body of newer car models makes them more optimal for A/C usage than opening the windows.
Does Cruise Control Damage a Car?
No, it does not. In fact, it is actually good for your car. This is because acceleration not only burns fuel but damages the driveline. However, with cruise control, the damage to the driveline is reduced.
You should avoid using cruise control during snowy weather, heavy rains, or periods where ice can form. This is because if you accelerate on slippery surfaces, it can effect the performance of the brake pedal, thereby unbalancing the cruise control and potentially cause an accident.
Other Ways to Save Gas
Cruise control is a great way to save on gas, but it is not the only way. Here are other alternatives that will not only help you save your bank account but the planet as well.
Do Not Hit the Gas Pedal Aggressively
Although it is tempting to go from 0 to 100 mph in a second, it is best to gradually work your way up to that speed.
According to study results, you can save between 30 to 37% on fuel by speeding progressively up from 0 to 60 mph at about 15 seconds as opposed to doing it in less than ten.
Pay More Attention to the Road
If you pay more attention to your surroundings and can notice lights and stop signs, you can take your time slowing to a stop rather than slamming on the brakes. This means learning to drive slower and reduce the burden on your brake pads – another great way to save gas.
The way cruise control saves fuel is basically the same way driving slowly does. Despite the speed limit being between 65-70 mph, most people drive about 75-95 mph on the highway. Unbeknownst to them, driving fast is not always so fuel-efficient.
The slower you drive, the more fuel you save. By going slower, you can save up to 14% on fuel.
Remove Excess Accessories
Removing accessories you do not use (like mounts for carrying kayaks and bikes) can improve your car’s aerodynamics. It would also help to remove add-ons like air dams and spoilers.
You can also remove items you have in your trunk that you do not use often and simply leave the essentials (like a fire extinguisher or emergency supplies). The more weight your car has to carry, the more gas it has to burn to transport that weight.
Turn Off your Car
Now, this does not mean you should turn off your car every time it is not moving. It is not advisable to do so. Instead, only turn off your engine if you are stuck in traffic, at a red light, or in a slow moving drive-thru queue.
In general, you should only turn off your engine if you are sure you won’t move in over a minute or two.
You can also opt for smartphone apps to help you track how long you will be waiting. For example, EnLighten is an app that can show you how long it takes for a red light to turn green (this app only works in certain cities in the US).
Does cruise control save gas? In certain circumstances, yes, it can. It not only saves gas but helps to reduce the wear and tear of the car’s driveline. With that said, it’s difficult to tell exactly how much gas you save when using cruise control.
So, whatever your reason may be for wanting to save gas, cruise control is one of the many ways you can do so. Turning off your car or driving slower are other options as well – the choice is yours!
If you enjoyed reading this article and would love to read more like it, you can visit this website and find answers to any questions you may have about your automobile.