The Car Care Council offers some gas-saving maintenance and driving tips that really work:
• Vehicle gas caps
About 17 percent of the vehicles on the road have gas caps that are either damaged, loose or are missing altogether, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year.
• Underinflated tires
When tires aren't inflated properly, it's like driving with the parking brake on and can cost a mile or two per gallon.
• Worn spark plugs
A vehicle can have either four, six or eight spark plugs, which fire as many as 3 million times every 1,000 miles, resulting in a lot of heat, electrical and chemical erosion. A dirty spark plug causes misfiring, which wastes fuel. Spark plugs need to be replaced regularly.
• 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.
Fuel-saving driving tips include:
• 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, which results in 7 to 49 cents per gallon.
• Avoid excessive idling
Sitting idle gets zero miles per gallon. Letting the vehicle warm up for one to two minutes is sufficient.
• Observe the speed limit
Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each mpg driven over 60 will result in an additional 10 cents per gallon. To maintain a constant speed on the highway, cruise control is recommended.
• Combine errands into one trip to save gas and time
Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance.
• Avoid carrying unneeded heavy items in the trunk
An extra 100 pounds can cut fuel efficiency by a percent or two.
The Car Care Council is the source of information for the Be Car Care Aware consumer education campaign, which promotes the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers.
For more information, visit www.carcare.org.