Summer drives vs. the gas pump

Enjoying your collector vehicle while spending less

As summer temperatures rise, there’s never been a better time to hit the road for collector car events and warm weather joy rides—unless, of course, you consider the soaring fuel prices confronting our country now. The task only gets trickier for classic car owners, whose vehicles often need higher-octane gas. Using lower-priced fuel just isn’t an option: cheaper fuel may cause performance issues and potentially damage the engine. How can we embark on summer adventures without spending excessively?


Below find tips to see more of the road without feeling pain at the pump.


1) Slow and Steady Acceleration

Vehicles use the highest amount of energy when accelerating1., so keeping a steady pace during acceleration can help—especially on the highway.1 Even if your Classic Car doesn’t have cruise control, attempt to maintain a consistent speed to minimize fuel consumption. A combination of fast acceleration, speeding, and hard braking (covered below), can lower gas mileage between 15% and 30% at highway speeds, and 10% and 40% in bumper-to-bumper traffic.2 When it comes to fuel costs, slow and steady indeed wins the race.


2) Fuel-Efficient Speeds

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, although every vehicle reaches its peak fuel efficiency at a different speed, anything faster than 50 miles per hour can cause gas mileage to rapidly decrease due to tire rolling resistance and air resistance3—and for approximately every 5 miles per hour you drive over that limit, it is like spending nearly 30 cents more per gallon of gas. In addition to cutting costs, dialing back on the speed also leads to safer roads—a win-win scenario.


3) Avoid Hard Braking (When Possible)

This tip rolls into the previous as hard, frequent braking also requires more acceleration—the main gas guzzling culprit4. Fast braking is advised when necessary, but can generally be avoided during instances like stop-and-go driving. Consider alternatives like exploring new routes which aren’t packed with stoplights, stop signs, or bumper-to-bumper traffic. And do consider where you can fill your tank. Not every station carries premium gas, so you may need to consider slightly larger, more populated towns, where there’s a better chance of the appropriate refuel for your vehicle.


4) Minimize Idling

While slower speeds are generally a good thing for gas costs, no speed at all can create its own fuel efficiency hazard—in significant sums, too. Letting your car idle for just two minutes uses the same amount of gas as driving a mile. Idling for more than an hour can burn approximately a gallon of gas or more depending on the engine size and use of air conditioning. Idling causes other issues, too, from performance problems to unnecessary environmental pollutants5. Those who participate in classic car shows and parades know firsthand it can be hard on the engine to idle at slower speeds with a manual transmission. If you have multiple collector vehicles, you may want to consider one with an automatic transmission if you’re attending a parade or other event that requires idling for extended periods.


5) Travel Lightly

Got stuff? The heavier your car’s load, the more it has to work to get from point A to point B. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, every extra 100 pounds your vehicle transports reduces your miles per gallon by about 1%. You may not be able to reduce the weight of your Challenger Hellcat, but you can reduce what you carry. Traveling lightly is best to optimize fuel efficiency.


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