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Smart Gas-Saving Tips

Keep Your Engine Properly Tuned

Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%, though results vary based on the kind of repair and how well it is done. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40%.

Use the Recommended Grade of Motor Oil

You can improve your gas mileage 1 to 2% by using the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil. For example, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed for 5W-30 can lower your gas mileage by 1 to 1.5%. Using 5W-30 in an engine designed for 5W-20 can also lower your gas mileage by 1 to 1.5%. Always look for motor oil that says "Energy Conserving" on the API performance symbol to be sure it contains friction-reducing additives.

Check & Replace Air Filters Regularly

Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your cars gas mileage by as much as 10%. Your car's air filter keep impurities from damaging the inside of your engine. Not only will replacing a dirty air filter save gas, but it will also protect your engine.

Avoid Excessive Idling

You get zero miles per gallon (mpg) when idling, and the larger the engine, the more fuel wasted. If the line at the fast food emporium is long, park the car and go inside to order.

Observe the Speed Limit

Yes, you might feel like you are getting run over, especially on the interstate, but fast driving lowers fuel economy dramatically. You can figure roughly that every five mph over 60 costs you an additional $.20 per gallon.

Avoid Fast Starts

Aggressive driving (rapid acceleration and breaking) can burn excess gas. It can lower your gas mileage dramatically, by up to 30% or more (or up to the equivalent of $.90 per gallon). Smooth driving is also safer.

Take a Load Off

Heavier vehicles require more energy to move, so carrying around excess weight will also effect your mileage. Empty out your trunk (or even your backseat) of unnecessary items. An extra 100 pounds (lbs.) in the trunk will reduce your fuel economy by 1 to 2% in the typical vehicle. If you have a roof rack or roof carrier, install it on your vehicle only when absolutely necessary. Not only does the carrier add extra weight, but it also increases the aerodynamic drag on the vehicle, which further contributes to a loss of fuel economy.

Use the Highest Gear Possible

Cars are designed to start in the lowest gear possible because that is where they have the most power, but that power translates to an increase in fuel consumption. To improve your fuel economy, drive in the highest gear possible when you are cruising at a steady speed, such as on the highway. If your vehicle has an automatic transmission with a sport mode, it is most likely that this is a computer.

Use the Correct Grade of Fuel

Many people thing they need Premium when Regular will do just fine, especially owners of fast cars. Again, read the owner's manual and use the recommended fuel. Also, be careful in areas of the country selling fuel with Ethanol. Be sure your engine is approved to run on E85 fuel or your could cause engine damage — just a little side note here.

Do Not Top Off Your Tank

Stop filling when the automatic shut off engages. Filling the tank up to the filler cap can lead to spilling some fuel, thus wasting it and doing a small part to the environment.

Check the Air Tires

Check the air pressure often (this is not only a gas saving tip, but a safety tip). Low air pressure can reduce mileage and worse, cause the tire to heat up and blow. Keep your tires rotated and aligned. Misaligned tires can cause drag. Plus, they wear faster, costing you money for new tires prematurely. You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3% by keeping your tired inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.4% for every one pound per square-inch drop in pressure of all four tires. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.

Clear All Ice and Snow

Ice and snow can add a lot of unnecessary weight to your car and increase wind resistance, which can both hurt your fuel mileage. Also, remove any items you keep in the trunk that are not needed, so you do not have extra weight in the car.

Think Clean

Keeping your car washed and waxed improves aerodynamics and therefore, effects fuel economy. Engineer Tom Wagner Jr. reported to Stretcher.com (as in stretching your dollars) a 7% improvement in fuel economy, from 15 to 16 mpg, during a 1,600-mile trip.

Think Before You Ventilate

Running your air conditioner does cause your vehicle to consume more fuel, but driving with your windows rolled down can be even worse due to the increase of drag on the vehicle. If you are driving slowly, such as around town on in city traffic, then you are better off leaving your windows open, if at all possible. For highway driving, roll up the windows and turn the air conditioning on.

Combine Your Errands

A little planning can made a big difference in fuel economy. When your engine is cold, it uses more fuel than when it is warm. Combining errands can improve your gas mileage, because your engine will be warm for more of the trip. It might also mean you travel less total miles. According to the DOE, several short trips all beginning with a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a single, longer trip that covers the same distance.

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