While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas. Between 45 and 55 are generally the best for gas use, under and over those points can be quite wasteful.
This is more of a general guideline because the most efficient speed to drive at is different for every vehicle. It depends on a number of things, including the aerodynamics, weight, and size and type of engine. Engines perform best at a certain rpm, vehicles have drag that increases with speed, but also have a baseline fuel consumption that occurs whether you’re moving or not. In general, somewhere in the 40-60 mph range is probably ideal, with larger, bulkier cars being most efficient at lower speeds and smaller, more aerodynamic cars being most efficient at higher speeds.
Though it depends on the car you drive, for most cars the fuel efficiency of the vehicle reaches a peak between 35-55 mph and then starts to decline if you drive faster than that. fueleconomy.gov states:
“You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas.”
One way you can get a sense of your car’s optimum speed is to check out the rpm’s. If you are nearing or going over 3,000 rpms your engine is working hard and using more gas. It is usually best to keep the rpms between 2,000 and 3,000.
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