With gas prices exceeding two dollars a gallon in many parts of the country, the Car Care Council is offering gas-saving maintenance and driving tips that really work.

Typical gasoline station“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. “Loose or missing gas caps, under-inflated tires, worn spark plugs, and dirty air filters all contribute to poor fuel economy.”

Fuel-saving tips

  • Check 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.
  • Make sure tires are properly inflated–When tires aren’t inflated properly, it’s like driving with the parking brake on and can cost a mile or two per gallon.
  • Replace spark plugs regularly–A vehicle can have either four, six, or eight spark plugs, which fire as many as 3 million times every 1,000 miles. That results in a lot of heat, electrical, and chemical erosion. A dirty spark plug also causes misfiring, which wastes fuel. Spark plugs need to be replaced regularly.
  • Replace 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.

Gas-saving driving tips

  • 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.
  • Avoid idling–Sitting idle gets zero miles per gallon. Modern, fuel-injected engines do not need to be warmed up. Letting older vehicles warm up for 30 seconds is sufficient–even in cold weather. Driving slowly the first mile is much gentler on your engine than idling. In fact, idling is one of the harshest things you can do to a car. Idling is also a major cause of pollution in cities.
  • Observe the speed limit–Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each mile driven over 60 will result in an additional 10 to 34 cents per gallon. To maintain a constant speed on the highway, cruise control is recommended.

—Some of the above statistics were gathered from a U.S. Department of Energy Web site, www.fueleconomy.gov.

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