* Keep the engine running at peak performance. A misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent. Replace filters and fluids as recommended in the manual.
* Keep tires properly inflated and aligned. Inflated tires reduce the engine's effort and gasoline consumption.
* Find a good technician. Ask friends for recommendations. Check the reputation of the repair shop with your local consumer group. Check out the technicians' credentials. ASE-certified auto technicians have passed one or more national exams in specialties such as engine performance and air conditioning. ASE-certified technicians wear blue and white ASE shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact areas of certification. Their employers often display the ASE sign.
* Have your vehicle's air conditioner serviced only by a technician certified to handle and recycle refrigerants. Older air conditioners contain ozone-depleting chemicals, which could be released into the atmosphere through improper service.
* Avoid speeding and sudden accelerations; both habits guzzle gas. When waiting for friends or family, shut off the engine. Consolidate daily errands to eliminate unnecessary driving.
* Remove excess items from the vehicle. Less weight means better mileage. Remove that rooftop luggage carrier after vacations to reduce air drag.
* If you do your own repairs, properly dispose of engine fluids and batteries. Some repair facilities accept these items. Or call your local government for information.
Visit www.ase.com for more seasonal car care tips and for information about the benefits of using ASE-certified technicians for auto repairs and service.