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Photo Courtesy of Dave Pilibosian / Istock

You can improve your car’s fuel efficiency with these simple driving habits provided by the Alliance to Save Energy:

Before You Hit the Road…

tune up your carPhoto Courtesy of Christopher Dodge

  • Tune up. Fixing a car that’s out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4 percent. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40 percent!
  • Keep tires properly inflated to improve mileage by up to 3.3 percent. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure in all four tires. In addition, proper inflation improves tire longevity – and your safety while driving. DOE cautions not to go by the maximum pressure printed on the tire’s sidewall, but to find the proper tire pressure for your own vehicle on a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb or in the glove box, as well as in your owner’s manual.
  • Use the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil or risk lowering you gas mileage by 1to 2 percent. For example, says DOE, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30 can depress mileage by 1to 2 percent; and using 5W-30 in an engine designed for 5W-20 can lower mileage by 1 to 1.5 percent. DOE also advises looking for the phrase “Energy Conserving” on the American Petroleum Institute performance symbol to ensure that the oil contains friction-reducing additives.
  • Check you air filter.  DOE says a February 2009 study by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory found that replacing a clogged air filter on cars with fuel-injected, computer-controlled gasoline engines (the type of engine on most gasoline-fueled cars manufactured since the early 1980s) does not improve fuel economy but can improve acceleration time by 6 to 11 percent.

rotate and inflate your tires

On the Go…

  • Slow down. Gas mileage decreases rapidly above 60 miles per hour – each five mph over 60 is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas (based on $3.07 per gallon)..
  • Avoid aggressive driving, (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking), which not only is safer but can also lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and 5 percent around town.

                                                                          Photo Courtesy of Victor Zastolo`skiy / iStock

  • Avoid carrying items on your vehicle’s roof. A loaded roof rack or carrier increases weight and aerodynamic drag, which can cut mileage by 5 percent. Place items inside the trunk whenever possible to improve your fuel economy.
  • But don’t cram the trunk with unneeded items, either. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk cuts a typical vehicle’s fuel economy by up to 2 percent.
  • Avoid idling. Idling gets 0 mpg, and cars with larger engines typically waste even more gas while idling than cars with smaller engines.
  • Combine errands/trips. If you combine errands into one trip, you drive fewer miles and use less fuel. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer, multipurpose trip when the engine is warmed up and efficient.
  • Use the overdrive gear when appropriate to reduce engine speed. It will save gas and reduce engine wear.
  • Use cruise control to cut fuel consumption by maintaining a steady speed during highway driving.
  • Consider alternatives to driving such as public transportation, biking, walking, ridesharing and telecommuting.

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