Fall Car Care Special Section: Little changes can add up at the gas station

Published on Wed, Oct 19, 2011
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With gas prices hovering right around $4 a gallon, drivers need to take advantage of as many gas-saving maintenance and driving tips as they can.

“Millions of dollars worth of gasoline is wasted every day by motorists, because simple and inexpensive vehicle maintenance is neglected,” said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council, who offers the following tips.

Maintenance

Vehicle gas caps – About 17 percent of the vehicles on the roads 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 it can cost you 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 three million times every 1,000 miles, resulting in a lot of heat and electrical and chemical erosion. A dirty spark plug causes misfiring, which wastes fuel. Spark plugs need to be replaced regularly.

Dirty air filters – An air filter that is clogged with dirt, dust and bugs chokes off the air and creates a rich mixture – too much gas being burned for the amount of air, which 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.

Driving

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 7 to 49 cents per gallon.

Avoid excessive idling – Sitting idle gets zero miles per gallon. Letting the vehicle warm up for one to two minutes is sufficient.

Observe the speed limit – Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each mph driven over 60 will result in an additional 10 cents per gallon. To maintain a constant speed on the highway, cruise control is recommended.