The Sweet Speed
The faster you go, the lower your gas mileage becomes. If you go 70mph or more on the highway, you can lose one-third or more of your fuel mileage. For long trips or large vehicles, this adds up to big bucks.
Obviously you do have to find a balance between fuel mileage and actually getting to your destination in a reasonable time frame. For most vehicles, this balance point is the Sweet Speed – the speed at which your particular vehicle gets its best gas mileage. Note that we said “your particular vehicle” – each vehicle is a little different.
The Sweet Speed is the lowest speed at which your vehicle switches into its lowest gear (4th, 5th or overdrive). For many vehicles it’s around 50mph. If you can’t stomach a ten hour road trip at 50 mph, trying bumping it up to 55 mpg. You’ll get there in a reasonable time and you can save hundreds of dollars on your gas bill over time.
If you tailgate on the highway and constantly run up on the bumpers of the cars ahead of you, you tend to brake more sharply and drive less smoothly. The more smoothly you accelerate and operate your vehicle, the better fuel mileage you will get. Leaving some space ahead of you and the vehicle in front enables you to do this and get your best fuel mileage.
Make sure you put the vehicle in overdrive on the highway. Overdrive is designed to make vehicles more fuel efficient by reducing the ratio of engine speed to wheel speed. When you are up and running at full speed on the road, your engine doesn’t have expend as much energy to keep the wheels turning and to maintain your present speed. Overdrive is designed to take advantage of this fact. You get your best fuel mileage in overdrive.
Combine some of the tips with other mileage-saving tips here on the Bell Performance Blog, and make your next long road trip a more profitable one, in more ways than one. You'll build memories and save money while doing it.
This post was published on June 7, 2011 and was updated on February 17, 2015.