Cruise control or not?

August 24, 2010

Will cruise control improve fuel economy?

The answer: it depends.

On level highways with light traffic, it is YES: cruise control holds a vehicle to a steadier speed than most drivers can, and that’s more efficient than continuous acceleration and deceleration.

However, in hilly terrain, cruise control ‘tramps on it’ when it encounters a climb, trying to maintain a constant speed – and that consumes a lot of fuel.  So in hilly areas, a driver with a skilled foot can easily get better mileage than cruise control.  (A skilled foot means allowing the vehicle to slow down on the upgrades instead of tramping on the gas, and then using the other side of the hill to pick up speed.)

One caveat: safety first!  Always ensure your driving style is compatible with road and traffic conditions.

Thanks to Stephanie McClellan in St. Anthony, NL for the question that led to this Green Idea!

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