Drive Steady - it's fuel efficient

"I don't drive fast, I drive steady." Those were my grandfather's words when he drove on highways. He didn't believe in speeding, and whether he knew it or not, he was getting the best fuel economy that he could by doing so.

The relative difficulty or cost of this tip is rated 1 to 10. A rating of 10 suggests that this tip is the most difficult or most costly. Expected savings are also rated 1 to 10. A rating of 10 suggests that this tip will provide substantial savings in fuel, money or both.



Drive steady. Steady speeds use less fuel than changing speeds. Think of it as a car “pacing itself” like a runner does in a race. If you speed up, you’ll waste that much more fuel when it comes time to slow down.

In town, steady speed is best achieved by knowing how to blend smoothly with traffic and avoid unnecessary stops at traffic lights. You can adjust your speed to coincide with traffic lights so they change in your favor.

Often major thoroughfares have lights “timed” for a certain speed of traffic. If you get in the “sweet spot” and maintain the ideal speed, you won’t be stopping for many lights along the way, and that leads to better fuel efficiency.

Going too fast makes you slow down when you reach traffic waiting for the light. Going too slow causes you to get caught by the next light. Traveling neither too fast nor too slow puts you in the “sweet spot” where the traffic way ahead of you is stopping for the light, but you aren’t.

A key to knowing when traffic signals are going to change is to watch ahead for the “walk” and “don’t walk” signs associated with the upcoming intersections. A white walk sign means the cross traffic has a red light. A flashing orange “don’t walk” sign means your yellow light is approaching soon. The solid don’t walk sign will occur just as the light in your favor turns yellow.

Another way to know when the traffic signal is going to change is to watch the traffic turning left in front of you at the intersection. When they stop turning left and wait at the light, that means the light is going to turn green for you in just a moment or two.



Using the cruise control is another way to drive steady. It keeps your speed consistent over the long haul by accelerating and decelerating for you. It works well on relatively flat roads that are not congested. The flat open highway or freeway is the best place to use cruise control. It works only in your top gear, and usually only at speeds of 35 mph and above. I wouldn’t bother using it unless you are on a long stretch of road that allows a speed limit of at least 45 mph.

Even though cruise control is a good feature that allows you to drive steady, it is often misused and becomes a nuisance and hazard to other drivers. When passing, remember to use a little gas to get around the other driver quickly so you don’t delay others behind you.

Passing quickly also gets you quickly out of the blind spot of the driver you are passing. Do not linger in the blind spot by passing with cruise control.

Note: All the savings attributable to your better gas mileage will go right out the window if you cause an accident because you are focused on economy rather than safety. One of the best gas saving tips is: practice safe driving first, and efficient driving second.

When using cruise control and approaching a hill, help yourself stay in your top gear by gently accelerating to gain momentum with a somewhat higher speed before reaching the hill. This will help prevent cruise control from accelerating and downshifting to climb the grade in an effort to maintain your set speed.

When you approach the top of the hill, you can back off gently on the gas pedal and let cruise control again take over while you go over the crest of the hill. The extra power you consume going up the hill a little faster will be made up for by coasting down the back side.

Remember, cruise control helps you drive steady, but it doesn’t drive the car for you. You still have to mind what you and the car are doing.

Cost or difficulty: 1
Savings: 4



Done with Drive Steady, take me back to Save Gas

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I'm a big proponent of being debt-free, and I mean entirely debt-free - no mortgage payment. It's not essential for financial freedom, but you'll love the feeling once you get there. If you didn't have a rent or mortgage payment, how much more could you do for yourself with your current level of income? I suspect plenty.











If you ever hope to see an abundance of wealth, you need to plug the hole in your boat. The wealthy don't necessarily make lots of money, instead, they know how to hang onto what they make, and make it work for them.