Maximizing Fuel Efficiency: The Benefits of Slowing Down on the Highway

2023-09-19 09:30:00

Published on Friday August 18, 2023 at 11:06 a.m.

What if you slowed down to save fuel? With prices fluctuating and being high, it’s worth it in the long run. We calculated the gains based on your speed if you drive an average of 1,000 km per month on the motorway.

Gregory, a reader from Charleroi, drives at 90-100 km/h instead of 120 on the highway. “With a full tank, I can do up to 1,000 km instead of 750 previously,” he says, very satisfied with the savings he makes at the pump. But exactly how much can you gain by driving slower? We asked the Vias Institute, which provides eco-driving training, to calculate consumption at different speeds for an average of 1,000 km per month on the motorway (50 km traveled per working day).

As our infographic shows, a driver traveling at 90 km/h consumes on average 8 liters less than at 120 km/h per 1,000 km. Counting on the tolerance margin of the radars, many motorists stick to 130 km/h. In addition to the fact that they risk being fined, this behavior costs them 3 liters more than if they were at 120, or a little more than 6 euros at the current price of gasoline and diesel. These amounts may seem low. But over the course of a year, the fan of 90 km/h on the motorway will pay up to 264 euros less than the person in a hurry at 130 km/h.

“These figures were calculated using an average car. Depending on the model used, we will perhaps save a little more or a little less,” specifies Benoît Godart, spokesperson for the Vias Institute. On the other hand, what does not vary from one user to another is the time lost or gained depending on the speed. At 90, we will have accumulated more than 3 hours of delay compared to 130 km/h over the course of a month.

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“Driving at 90 km/h is not ideal because we move at the same speed as the trucks. It’s better to be at least 100 km/h,” advises our interlocutor. But for him, there is no point in sticking to this average if we multiply the accelerations and untimely braking, which are very energy-consuming. “Similarly, we consume more with poorly inflated tires,” he says.

The rumor of the reservoir

And the rumor that we consume less with a full tank? “You can find everything on the internet on the subject. This may have been valid before because of the evaporation of gasoline. But today the tanks are sealed. You can hear it when it clicks to close. In any case, the savings would be non-existent in the event of detours of a few kilometers to get to the service station,” comments Benoît Godart.

On the other hand, he advises against driving on the reserve. The pump has to work harder to get the last liters of fuel. “In addition, there may be contaminants at the bottom of the tank that could affect the performance of the vehicle,” warns the road safety specialist. And there’s really no point in having a half-full tank all the time. The car weighs a few dozen kilos less… out of a total mass of 1.5 tonnes.

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