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Getting More Miles from a Tank of Gas

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With higher gas prices and mounting concerns about global warming, conserving gas has become a national priority. While trading in your car or truck for a fuel-efficient subcompact or hybrid may not be an immediate option, there are strategies you can use to save gas.

Monitor tire pressure.
Under-inflated tires create rolling resistance and lower fuel efficiency. By keeping tires inflated at the highest recommended pressure level, you can improve gas mileage by around 3.3%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Proper inflation also lessens wear on tires and reduces the risk of accidents due to tire failure or blowouts.

Get regular tune-ups.
Because malfunctions cause the engine to work harder, cars tend to burn more gas when regular maintenance is neglected. Problems such as clogged air and fuel filters, faulty oxygen censors, or worn and dirty spark plugs can lead to a dramatic drop in fuel efficiency. Taking a car for a tune-up at least every 30,000 miles can save gas and protect the engine.

Monitor brakes and wheel alignment.
Improper wheel alignment and the drag of poorly adjusted brakes can lower gas mileage. A simple inspection can reveal whether an adjustment or realignment is needed.

Do not allow your car to idle for more than a minute.
Turn off your car if you plan to stop for more than a minute, as idling for longer periods uses more fuel than shutting down and restarting the engine. Avoid warming up the car, as it is unnecessary with today's engines.

Eliminate excess weight.
Take the junk out of your trunk. Each additional 100 pounds of weight a vehicle carries can cut gas mileage by up to 2%.

Slow down.
Fuel efficiency falls sharply in most cars when they are driven at speeds above 60 mph. In fact, the DOE estimates that you may pay an extra 20 cents per gallon for every 5 mph you drive over 60 mph.

Curb aggressive driving habits.
Acceleration, rather than sustained cruising, accounts for nearly half the fuel burned in city driving. Accelerating smoothly from a standstill consumes much less gas than a sudden start, and use of cruise control on the highway can improve mileage.

With proper vehicle maintenance and good driving habits, you can get better fuel economy and spend less at the pump.

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