Take Control Of Rising Gas Prices

By Alejandro T. Yates

Rising gas prices are prompting many drivers to fill up on gas-saving tips.

Fortunately, drivers can add miles to every gallon they pump by following a few easy and inexpensive maintenance tips from the Car Care Council:

* Vehicle gas caps - About 17 percent of the vehicles on the road have gas caps that are either damaged, loose or are missing altogether, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year.

* Underinflated tires - When tires aren't inflated properly, it's like driving with the parking brake on and can cost a mile or two per gallon.

* Worn spark plugs - A vehicle can have either four, six or eight spark plugs, which fire as many as 3 million times every 1,000 miles, resulting in a lot of heat, electrical and chemical erosion. A dirty spark plug causes misfiring, which wastes fuel.

* Dirty air filters - An air filter that is clogged with dirt, dust and bugs chokes off the air, wastes gas and causes the engine to lose power. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent, saving about 15 cents a gallon.

* Don't be an aggressive driver - Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by as much as 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent on city streets, which results in seven to 49 cents per gallon.

* Avoid excessive idling - Sitting idle gets zero miles per gallon. Let the vehicle warm up for one to two minutes only.

* Observe the speed limit - Each mpg driven over 60 will result in an additional 10 cents per gallon. To maintain a constant speed on the highway, cruise control is recommended.

* Combining errands into one trip saves gas and time. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance.

* Avoid carrying unneeded heavy items in the truck. An extra 100 pounds can cut fuel efficiency by a percent or two.

As part of the "Be Car Care Aware" education campaign, the Car Care Council offers a free service interval schedule to help take the guesswork out of what vehicle systems need to be routinely inspected and when service or repair should be performed.

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