Does Cruise Control Save Gas – Is It Efficient?

20. Does Cruise Control Save Gas1
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There are people who like to drive quickly, people who are overly cautious, and then there are those who always use cruise control. Each of these people will need to refuel at some point, but who will be the last one at 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.

What Is The Purpose Of Cruise Control?

Ralph Teetor invented cruise control in 1948. He was on a long trip with his lawyer when he became painfully aware that the man kept speeding up and slowing down. His engineering mind said, “I can fix this,” and the origin of cruise control began.

The primary purpose of cruise control is to level out the speed of a vehicle and give drivers a reprieve from pressing the gas pedal on long journeys. Cruise control is beneficial when you’re traveling in your car, truck, or RV. Just ensure you’ve done thorough checks on your RV before hitting the road, so you can give your cruise setting the best setup for success.

How Much Gas Does Cruise Control Save?

Absolutely. If you’re cruising along a mostly level highway, electronics generally are far better at avoiding the little speed-up/slow-down events that are inevitably caused by a weary accelerator ankle or an inattentive mind. It’s those changes in momentum that waste fuel, because force equals mass times acceleration. Using cruise control is beneficial on mostly level ground, as well as on long, steady uphill or downhill grades. On highways traversing rolling hills, however, you’re better off targeting an average speed and then allowing the vehicle to slow down by 5 or 10 mph when climbing and then rise by a similar amount during the descent. Note that most of the gas-saving hints here also apply to extending range in an electric vehicle, but in this case, because much of the energy an electric car expends climbing a hill gets recovered by regeneration on the way back down, feel free to leave the cruise on in the hills, as well.

Cruise control can also save you gas by just keeping you driving slower. When your foot is on the pedal it’s easy to go too fast, and the faster you go the worse your fuel economy. Most vehicles are most efficient around 30-40mph and they drop off quickly from there. Driving 70 vs 75 will save you a lot of fuel, particularly in larger vehicles.

Advantages Of Cruise Control

Here are the advantages of using cruise control on your car!

1. Saves Fuel

The main benefit of cruise control is that it saves on gas by keeping the car moving at a constant speed.

However, this fuel-efficient system offers more advantages than just cutting down on your overall fuel bills. Consider four other advantages that cruise control provides:

2. Reduces Fatigue

Stepping on the pedals to accelerate or decelerate may sound like a simple activity; even so, this action wears you down and may even cause you to feel fatigued, especially when driving long distances.

However, cruise control eliminates the need to constantly step on the pedal, allowing you some time to rest, hence reducing fatigue.

3. Helps You Avoid Speeding Tickets

Most of us accelerate fast, even exceeding the speed limit without realizing it. And if the police would pull you over due to speeding, you might end up paying high penalty fees at the very least.

When you use cruise control, you can set constant speeds that do not exceed the legal speed limit. This protects you from the risk of being charged with overspeeding.

4. Improves Sustainability

Burning gasoline and diesel releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming and climate change.

Since cruise control saves gas, it not only reduces the number of trips to the gas station but also helps you to reduce the environmental footprint of your commute, and improve your personal economic sustainability.

The less gas is used, the less pollution is released into the environment. In turn, reducing the carbon footprint promotes better environmental sustainability of your movements.

How Much Gas Can Cruise Control Save?

Some people think you can get more gas if you hit the gas station in the morning. That is a myth, but saving gas by using cruise control is not.

A study by Natural Resources Canada found that when a vehicle’s speed varies between 47 and 53 mph every 18 seconds, the car uses nearly 20% more fuel than traveling at a steady pace on cruise control. That is undoubtedly a considerable number.

However, the exact amount can vary from vehicle to vehicle due to size, speed, and road conditions. Hills and changes in elevation during your trip will also have a big impact on your fuel economy. Because of these many other factors, you may or may not truly see the effects of cruise control on any particular trip.

20. Does Cruise Control Save Gas2

What Percentage Of Fuel Is Saved By Cruise Control?

The jerkiness of your ankle. Using the cruise control at 80 kph (49.7 mph) rather than cycling between 75 and 85 kph (46.6 to 52.8 mph) every 18 seconds results in a 20% reduction in fuel consumption (and significantly less motion sickness), according to a Natural Resources Canada study. More modest claims in single-digit percentages are cited in studies by CNN/Money and others.

Is Your Car At Risk If You Use Cruise Control?

No, cruise control is beneficial for the car because acceleration uses fuel and damages the driveline. BIG CAVEAT: Cruise control should not be used in heavy rain, snow, or at temperatures where ice could form, because any acceleration on slick surfaces or while hydroplaning can induce an under- or oversteer event, and/or a resulting stab at the brake pedal to unset the cruise control can result in loss of control and an accident.

Does Air Conditioning Use More Gas Than Open Windows?

The engineer’s response is that because the energy needed to overcome aerodynamic drag varies with the cube of the vehicle’s speed, there will always be a certain speed at which opening the windows results in more drag and energy use than running the air conditioner compressor. It’s usually best to roll down the windows at city speeds and run the air at highway speeds in older, less aerodynamic vehicles with rudimentary A/C systems. However, modern vehicles have extremely effective climate control systems that use heat pumps, humidity sensors, and variable output compressors. A more aerodynamic body shape, which is compromised more when the windows are opened, is another characteristic of newer cars. Therefore, even the most ardent eco-whackos shouldn’t feel bad about enjoying climate-controlled comfort while driving a modern vehicle.

What About Adaptive Cruise Control Systems?

Adaptive Cruise Control is the newest form of cruise control in vehicles today. ACC works by adjusting the speed of your car to the flow of traffic as you drive. ACC systems can sense road speed, but they also can register the presence of other vehicles.

One of the flaws of traditional cruise control is that drivers often take over the vehicle’s acceleration at varying times, skewing the fuel efficiency benefit of the setting. ACC has one up on traditional cruise functions, as it does all the work for you.

People don’t have the natural ability to quickly make all of the calculations and adjustments an ACC function can. Allowing the computer to make decisions means that you’ll likely have a more fuel-efficient outcome.

If you want to get the most out of your fuel on a long trip, let your car do the driving. If you spend most of your long drives in an RV, you can rest easy knowing that some RVs also come with adaptive cruise control.

Should I Turn Off My Car To Save Gas?

If you’ve clicked and scrolled this far down and your vehicle is equipped with auto-stop/start, then absolutely leave it on! Without that system and the fortified battery and starter that comes with it, it’s not wise to shut off the engine every time your vehicle stops. But if you’re likely to stand still for most of a minute or more—at a notoriously long red light or while waiting in a drive-thru line or for a fuel pump to open up—and you last switched the engine off several minutes ago, then by all means key off. There are smartphone apps that can help. EnLighten counts down the time remaining before a red light turns green in the cities of Portland and Eugene, Oregon; Pasadena, Arcadia, and San Jose, California; Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah; Garland, Texas, and Las Vegas, Nevada.

No-cost Gas-saving Tips

Without renting wind tunnel time you can easily improve your vehicle’s aerodynamics by removing roof rack cross bars and mounts for occasionally carrying bikes, kayaks, skis, or luggage. If you’ve added those dope-looking aftermarket wings, air dams, and spoilers, removing them will boost efficiency. Without fabricating a new aluminum or carbon-fiber hood or doors, you can “lightweight” your own car by jettisoning all of those “just in case” items in your trunk and just carry a charged phone. Look farther ahead than the car in front of you to try and anticipate lights and stop signs so you can coast longer and brake less. And of course the most effective, least heeded or appreciated advice is to simply drive slower (see the first line of the paragraph above).

When Should You Not Use Cruise Control?

Though cruise control is a marvelous feature on many vehicles on the road today, it’s not always the right course of action while driving. There are plenty of circumstances when you should not use your cruise control. Some situations make it dangerous to use this function, while others undermine the efficiency.

For example, you shouldn’t use cruise control (especially adaptive cruise control) when you’re tired. The cruise function means there’s less to do for the driver, making it a more conducive dozing environment. It’s dangerous.

Also, driving in a city or around winding roads makes cruise control an unfavorable option. You can’t properly regulate the situational changes when you activate the cruise. Cruise control in the rain is another situation where the driver should have complete control. Cruise settings don’t account for wet roads.

Finally, you may find that using cruise control in a heavy vehicle, like a motorhome towing a car or trailer or a truck towing a heavy load, is not ideal when going up and down frequent steep grades. Most smaller vehicles can adjust fine, but cruise control does not always know the appropriate times to shift and brake the vehicle when it is heavier than normal. In these situations, the vehicle may struggle to shift smoothly and actually degrade your fuel economy.


Most of us spend thousands of dollars every year on gasoline. Actually, according to Yardeni Research, households in the U.S spent approximately $5,000 per year on gas. And the worst part is that, with inflation, gas prices are going higher and higher with no relief in sight.

Absolutely! Cruise Control minimizes the number of times the vehicle accelerates or decelerates immediately, keeping it at constant speeds that significantly save on gas.

This simple practice is helping people to save hundreds of dollars a year and is especially common among drivers who make lengthy commutes on the highway.

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