Does Cruise Control Save Gas and Money?

cruise control

I’ve been called by some a “grandpa” on the road. They mean to say that most grandpas are old men, and that most old men drive slowly. Well, I’m not sure that’s a logical argument, but I admit that I do drive slower than most.

Today I’d like to make the case that “driving slowly” (aka, going the speed limit) and using cruise control can actually save you money.

How Using Cruise Control Saves You Money

1. Cruise control helps you avoid the need for acceleration.

Whenever you accelerate, you’re using gas. When you’re using gas, you’re losing money. Turning on cruise control will help you avoid the craving to hit the gas when your favorite dubstep song hits the radio.

2. Cruise control will help you maintain a constant economical speed.

According to the US Department of Energy, gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph:

You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.28 per gallon for gas.

Yikes. That’s quite an increase in price to get to your destination a bit faster. If you’re the kind of person who complains

3. Cruise control, set at the speed limit, will help you avoid tickets.

I’ve never received a ticket (I guess “grandpas” don’t get tickets, ha). But for those of you who have, I’ve heard it isn’t a pleasant experience.

Tickets are expensive. Many states are over $100 per ticket. It’s not uncommon to see a $300 ticket. Ouch. That’ll put a dent in your 7 Baby Steps.

4. Cruise control results in less maintenance costs.

Taking corners fast is damaging to tires and overall hard on your vehicle. Cruise control gives you a constant speed and helps you avoid accelerations that give your engine more work to do.

When To Use Cruise Control

The natural answer is as much as possible. Here are a few places I use cruise control:

The Highway or Freeway

On long stretches of road cruise control comes in handy. Typically you want to go the same speed on the freeway and don’t have to worry about speeding up or slowing down (unless you live in Los Angeles).

Low Traffic Areas

There is a certain amount of hesitation factor when it comes to turning off your cruise control. Make sure that if you turn on your cruise control you also have the ability to turn it off quickly in the event you have to change speeds. The last thing you want to do is rear-end someone because you forgot which button to push.

On my Honda, there are three ways to turn off cruise control:

  1. I can push the master cruise control button.
  2. I can push the accelerate and decelerate buttons simultaneously.
  3. I can tap my brakes.

Now, I’m not one to make decisions quickly. If you give me several different ways to do one task I freeze up. This is exactly what happens when I have to choose a method to end my cruise control session. Therefore, I realized that I had to decide beforehand which method I would use to quickly bring the vehicle out of cruise control. Now I push the master cruise control button.

You can generally avoid this panic by using cruise control in very low traffic areas. Ensure you keep good distance between you and the car in front of you, and you’ll be just fine.

How Do You Save Money on the Road?

Using cruise control is just one idea that can save you money. Do you have any other vehicle tips you could share in the comments section below that save you money?

Maybe you fill your gas tank half full to cut down on weight and improve your MPG. Whatever your tip is, leave it below. What are some ways you can save money? Let’s start a collection and all learn a thing or two!

  1. Alice at Dont Debt

    One thing that I’ve noticed with cruise control is that there are situations where it becomes counterproductive to efficiency. For example: I drive regularly on an interstate that has many hills. Going up the hill, the efficient thing to do is to let your car decelerate some, but the cruise control will increase speed to the set level. Going down the hill, the efficient thing to do is to let your car gain a bit of momentum to get you to the next hill. With cruise control, it regulates that momentum and reigns the car back in. I think you just have to look for the situation where it’s use is going to benefit you. I can certainly do without a speeding ticket for instance.

  2. Preston

    Using cruise control has helped me a lot. But the biggest struggle is learning to actually leave a little earlier for work. When I am running late, cruise control doesn’t really work out.

  3. Aaron

    The cruise control option is a great way to save money on the road – and to alleviate foot pains! 🙂 Most cars today, you can basically decel and accelerate just using your wheel – which is nice on long trips.

    I also agree with Alice – it can be counterproductive on hills, esp when going down.

  4. Susan Cooper

    I am not sure I could add anything to that list. I will confess, I have a lead foot. I have not had many tickets in my life (two to be exact) but boy that last one was really expensive. The cost of the ticket is only they beginning. Then there is the cost of traffic school and the time you spend attending. The last ticket I had made me think about and use cruise control and as you pointed out my tank of gas lasted longer. Great post and thanks, Susan Cooper

  5. Jeremiah Brown

    Cruise control is a must for me. Very good article by the way.

    I have an extensive background with vehicles and here are some extra things you can do to save a bit more on gas mileage.
    – purchase an “exact fit” K&N Air Filter and install it the next time your air filter needs replacing (every 15k-25k miles depending on your normal driving conditions)
    – K&N is a lifetime air filter that will increase your gas mileage just because it doesn’t make your engine work nearly as hard to pull the air through it. Since it is a lifetime filter, you never have to buy a new one, but just clean it every 80k – 100k miles.
    – In the summer, use the ac while driving above speeds of 55mph and keep your windows rolled up. By having your windows down while driving this fast, it actually cost you more mpg because of the resistance it causes. If you are driving slower than that, just do the opposite because it does cost more gas while using your ac.
    -Use fuel injector cleaner once an oil change. I have found that if you do this your fuel burns more efficiently. The brand doesn’t matter as much. You can usually purchase an STP Fuel injector for around $2, not that bad when you only put one in every 3k miles.

    I know there are many more tips, however, these are some easy steps to take to try and save more while on the road.

    Thanks for the post, awesome as always 🙂

    Jeremiah Brown (Jerebro)

  6. I Am 1 Percent

    I drive 1.5 hours to work each way and use cruise control…mainly to avoid tickets. However, as someone stated earlier, it is not very efficient going up hills as the car tends to accelerate up hills to maintain the cruise speed. Its more efficient to lay off the gas pedal going up hill and lose speed, then pick up the speed as you go over the top of the hill.

  7. scott

    I commute 1 hour each way daily and have found that proper tire inflation is a key factor and also filling up once the tank is half full. I am not sure why but I get better gas mileage with the tank mostly full. I also have gave in and just drive the speed limit on cruise. I sure make a lot of people mad and some times they let me know as they pass but I am saving money and being safe. Also, you might gain 5 minutes speeding but you pay for it in other ways.

  8. Bethy @ Credit Karma

    I’d be curious to know how much money using cruise control saves. I use it out of habit; wonder what the unintentional monetary benefit is. Has anyone actually tested it out to see the savings?

  9. Jeff Crews

    $.28 every 5 mphs over 60? Holy cow. That is an astonishing statistic. Where did you get that statistic?