Is Regular Highway Driving Important for my Vehicle?

January 27th, 2015 by

Highway Miles

The Benefits of Highway Driving for your Vehicle

We received this question recently, there’s a lot that can come from exploring it a bit. Let’s start off by stating that, generally speaking, highway and city driving are very different activities for your car. There’s a reason why most cars have higher mpg ratings when you’re looking at highway driving than city driving, and those that have higher city ratings are generally pretty special cases. Simply speaking, the reason behind this is the fact that the vehicle has to work harder in the city due to traffic, stop lights, shifting, braking, hard turns, and every other situation that doesn’t exist on the highway where the car gets up to speed and maintains it for awhile.

Proper Lubricant Circulation on a Longer Drive

There’s a lot less for a car to do on the highway and trips on the highway are generally longer than a quick drive across town, which is better for the engine. On a quick trip to somewhere 10 minutes away, the fluids in the engine and other components don’t have time to get up to their optimal temperatures in order to fully lubricate the vehicle’s systems. An extended highway drive allows your vehicle to get up to an optimal temperature and then maintain it, this allows fluids to fully circulate through the system. Oil and other fluids need to reach a certain temperature to fully lubricate your vehicle and are unable to efficiently do it at lower temperatures. Highway miles also allow the motor to sit at its optimal rpm level as well, which minimizes wear and maximizing fuel economy.
So the short answer to this question is that highway driving helps to circulate fluids and lubricants around the car’s engine and other systems in a way that a quick drive across town does not. Engine’s have made huge strides forward through the years though, like fuel injection, in order to be better suited to short trips becoming more and more common as people and services move closer together.

Highways are Easier on your Car Overall

In other aspects of wear on your vehicle, while we have already gone over highway drives benefiting your engine by circulating lubricant, highways are easier on every subsystem of the car as well. This is a huge reason you will see a lot of used car ads advertise that most of the car’s miles are highway miles. Your engine wears less by sitting in its ideal rpm range while cruising at 65 mph, but there are many other systems that benefit. Because you don’t have to deal with stop lights, intersections, and traffic as much, your brakes get a lot less use. Highways are generally better maintained, so your suspension has less bumps and potholes to with, making it very easy on a system that can be expensive to repair. Highways are much straighter, bending rather than forcing you to turn, so your steering system has to work much less.
There are other examples but you can see where I’m going here. Highways are not only convenient, but offer ideal driving conditions based on what cars are best suited for. There are obviously special cases, but as general rules, highway driving is easier on your car based on the ideal conditions highways are based on and longer drives help your vehicle’s fluids to get up to temperature so that they can fully circulate in optimal conditions.
Any questions? Let us know in the comments below.