One of the many lessons our family learned on our month-long road trip vacation last year was that driving along two-lane highways is much more enjoyable than zipping along on the Interstate. While driving along the interstate has the advantage of speed, driving along a two-lane highway is more interesting for us and actually better for our car.
Here are three reasons why.
Better gas mileage
The mileage stickers that come with a new car may indicate that highway driving is more fuel efficient than driving in town but those estimates are usually based on an average speed of 55 miles an hour. So what happens if you go faster? Driving the 70-75 mph speed limit found on most western U.S. freeways will lower a car’s fuel economy by a whopping 40% which is a huge waste of gas and money. Sticking to the highways where the speed limits are rarely posted higher than 50 or 55 mpg means better gas mileage for your car.
Better for the engine
Those high freeway speed limits are also hard on the car’s engine since the pistons and all those other moving parts have to work faster to pump all that fuel. And it’s not just the engine that suffers. Components like gears, clutches, the suspension, and drive trains also wear out faster at higher speeds. Tire Business suggests that higher road speeds could increase maintenance costs by as much as 10-15% while decreasing engine durability by 10-15% as well.
Easier on the tires
I didn’t know (and I bet you didn’t either) that even the tires are also effected by higher speeds. As speed increases, tires get hotter too which can accelerate the aging process. The people at Bridgestone note that tires run at 75 mph will wear out between 10-30% faster than the same tire run at 55 mph.
While driving on a highway can be slow for motorists used to driving 75 mph, the slower speed will save you money and wear & tear on your car. This strategy has worked well for our family over the years and is the main reason why our 1974 VW microbus still keeps chugging along despite an odometer reading of over 320,000 miles.
How Stuff Works: 5 driving tips to prolong the life of your car
Bridgestone: Speed limit repeal
US Department of Energy: Keeping your car in shape
More by this contributor:
How packing light will boost fuel economy on a road trip
The advantages of teaching your teen how to drive instead of enrolling her in driving school
Driving a stick shift automobile in snow