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Car Maintenance >> Spring-Summer

Gas-saving Summer Maintenance Tips

(ARA) – High gas prices have many motorists putting the brakes on long-distance summer travel. However, smart maintenance and good driving habits can help boost your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and ease the pain of a trip to the gas station.

“Drivers can save money at the pump and get the most out of their gasoline by performing a few simple maintenance checks on their vehicles,” says Bruce Bonebrake, a master mechanic and host of “Weekend Mechanic,” on the DIY Network “Simple actions like replacing dirty filters or worn spark plugs can lead to significant gas savings.”

In fact, maintaining the quality of a few important vehicle components can help drivers improve their auto’s gas mileage as much as 40 percent, according to, an automotive information Web site from the U.S. Department of Energy. That means an average savings of about $794 per year.

Replace and Repair

Worn or dirty components can significantly impact your vehicle’s ability to use fuel efficiently.

* Replacing a dirty air filter – a five-minute job most consumers can do themselves -- can improve gas mileage by 10 percent, according to the National Car Care Council. This can add up to $198 annually. Change the air filter at least once a year, or every 12,000 miles. If you live in a high pollution or dusty region, you may need to change the filter more often. Just one teaspoon of dirt in the engine can cause more wear than 75,000 miles of normal driving,

* Oxygen sensors help your vehicle properly detect and adjust the mixture of air and fuel going into the engine. If a sensor is faulty, it can shave up to three miles per gallon off your car’s fuel efficiency and cost you about $239 a year.

* Bad spark plugs can leave you sitting with a car that won’t start, but worse yet are worn spark plugs and spark plug wires that could cost consumers up to $100 per year in wasted fuel.

Refine Fuel Flow

Many motorists cringe at the cost of gas, but never think about fuel once it enters their tank. But it’s important to ensure that the components in your vehicle’s fuel system are all working perfectly – from the gas cap to the fuel line.

About 147 million gallons of gas vaporize each year from the more than 40 million vehicles on the road with damaged, loose or missing gas caps, according to the Car Care Council. Make sure your vehicle’s gas cap is not damaged, loose or missing. Consider a locking gas cap to ensure a proper seal and to protect your fuel from theft by siphoning.

Debris and deposits in a vehicle’s fuel lines can clog them and hinder fuel efficiency. Periodically adding a fuel system cleaner to your gas tank can help ensure a cleaner engine.

Don’t Ignore the Engine Light

How many times has it happened to you? You’re on your way somewhere, in a hurry, when the “check-engine” light comes on. You know you probably should stop, but instead take a chance that the car will keep running at least long enough to get you where you want to go – this time.

“Of the 236 million vehicles on the road, an estimated 25 million to 35 million are operating with their check-engine light on,” says Brett Easley, certified mechanic and vice president of merchandising for AutoZone automotive retail outlets. “As a free service, many automotive retailers will help drivers identify the possible reason the light came on.” AutoZone provides free code retrieval reports that can help identify the possible cause of the alert, and aid in referring customers to trusted repair shops in their area.

To learn more about fuel-saving vehicle maintenance, visit or For more information on AutoZone, go to

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