• Driving 55 vs. 70 mph saves up to 20 percent more fuel. Use cruise control when appropriate to save even more.
• Drive consistently: Jackrabbit starts and hard stops burn more gas.
• Avoid idling: Sitting in the drive-through for 15 minutes for that quarter-pound burger can burn up to a quarter of a gallon of gas. Consider parking and going inside to order.
• Chill out by rolling down windows to cool off in city driving, saving the air conditioner for highway travel, when open windows are a drag-literally−on a vehicle's aerodynamics.
• Lighten the load: Carrying extra cargo burns more gas. So take the golf clubs out of the trunk when not hitting the links.
• Fill up when it's cool: Early morning or late evening fill-ups generate fewer vapors.
• Don't top off the tank, and tighten the gas cap. Topping off the tank can result in spilled gasoline, which creates environmental issues.
• Use the correct fuel grade: Unless the manufacturer requires it, high-octane gas is a waste of money.
• Climb every mountain, but build up speed first, then maintain it on the way up. Coast down to save gas.
• Cargo hauling? Go topless to save gas. About a quarter of each gallon of gas goes toward overcoming wind resistance. Cargo on top of the vehicle drags down fuel economy.
Vehicles are a lot like people-when they're out of shape, moving around takes a lot more energy. Timely maintenance can help identify hidden and not-so-hidden issues that rob vehicle fuel economy.
"Issues such as clogged air filters, a faulty oxygen sensor, dirty spark plugs and under-inflated car tires make your vehicle work harder and, therefore, use more gasoline," said Peter Lord, executive director, GM Service Operations.
Checking three simple items listed below could improve a vehicle's fuel economy by nearly 17 percent or more, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's www.fueleconomy.gov Web site.
• Out-of-tune engine: A properly tuned engine improves fuel economy by about 4 percent, according to the EPA.
• Clogged air filters: An air filter full of dirt makes the engine work harder and can let impurities damage the engine. Replacing a plugged filter improves fuel economy by up to 10 percent, according to the EPA.
• Keep tires properly inflated: Under-inflated tires can decrease mileage by 3 percent, or 0.4 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure, and they also reduce tire life, which means more worn tires to dispose of. Plus, driving on improperly inflated tires can be dangerous.
Helping the environment is about more than saving gasoline: Used vehicle fluids, particularly motor oil, must be disposed of properly to minimize their environmental impact.
The good news is that if you own a GM vehicle, it's easier to be green: Most 2004 model year and newer GM vehicles are equipped with GM's Oil Life System (OLS), which uses special computerized algorithms to determine when the oil needs to be changed based on how the vehicle is used, versus the commonly held 3,000-mile myth.
By changing a GM vehicle's oil based on its OLS, the typical driver will pay for an estimated three fewer oil changes per year, resulting in hundreds of millions of gallons of oil saved a year by all GM vehicles equipped with OLS.
"A driver whose fuel tank is still two-thirds full wouldn't empty the tank and refill it, or a driver whose tires are half worn wouldn't replace them," said Lord. "It is the same idea with prematurely changing oil that still has life."
Goodwrench is the service brand for GM vehicles. Learn more at www.goodwrench.com.