Does Music in Your Car Hurt MPG?

Fuel economy is on many car owners’ minds with unreliable fuel costs and the industry push for hybridization and electrification. However, there are a few surprising behaviors and habits that negatively affect your car’s MPG. Surprisingly, listening to music with your car stereo and even the genre you listen to can cost you money at the pumps. 

Listening to music with your car stereo while you drive can impact your MPG.
Occupants sing in their car | Adrian Dennis, AFP via Getty Images

Does playing music in your car drain fuel?

Using your car’s stereo demands higher power levels than driving in silence, resulting in gas consumption and draining fuel from your tank. However, the extra power necessary to run your stereo is inconsequential. National Public Radio’s (NPR) program Car Talk touched on the subject of music in your car and fuel consumption. “Theoretically, each of the car’s electrical components makes the alternator work a little harder, which makes the engine work a little harder, which uses more gasoline,” Car Talk host Tom Magliozzi said. 

Anything putting extra strain on your alternator will cause your MPG figures to lower. However, the amount of current required to run your car’s stereo is negligible compared to larger accessories. Tom joked, “the radio might use up an extra gallon of gas if you were driving to, say, the moon and back.”

Does the kind of music you listen to in the car make a difference in MPG?

Fast-paced music, like Mastodon, can prompt drivers to speed.
Fast-paced music like Mastodon can prompt speeding | David Wolff

Interestingly enough, the kind of music you listen to in your car makes a difference in your MPG. Well, it typically makes a difference; the type of music you listen to can modify your driving behavior without you being cognisant of it. For instance, UK-based Music Psychology says drivers who listen to bassy tunes or heavy metal tend to drive more aggressively than classical music listeners. Moreover, driving to fast-tempo music or listening to your soundtrack at high volume can result in driver aggression and, as a result, cause you to consume more fuel. 

What accessories consume fuel?

In addition to your stereo and infotainment system, every accessory in your vehicle uses electrical current. As a result, each accessory uses extra fuel to run. However, like your factory stereo, it’s often negligible in terms of making a difference in your MPG. On the other hand, running your air conditioner does impact your fuel economy. 

Air conditioning requires much more power to run than your radio or turn signals. So listen to your music attentively, and please use your turn signals; they don’t hurt your MPG in any realistic way. 

Listening to music in your car can hurt your MPG slightly.
A media player | Gavin Roberts, Official Windows magazine via Getty Images

Should you stop listening to music in your car to gain MPG?

Your music does change your MPG, but not enough to generate any savings by abstaining from your jams. Instead, behavior modification can save you much more at the pumps. For instance, avoiding abrupt acceleration or braking can improve your gas mileage. Moreover, ditching some of the unnecessary weight in your car can boost your MPG. Also, keeping your vehicle well-maintained, like replacing your air filter in a timely manner, can improve your fuel economy. 

Still, listening to loud, fast-tempo tunes might prompt you to drive faster or make more aggressive maneuvers, leading to lower MPG. However, turning off your tunes won’t make much difference. Scroll down to the following article to read more about saving gas and money!


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