* Check up. Look over your owner's manual to keep current on your scheduled maintenance. Inspect your vehicles' fluids to make sure they are all at the recommended levels. If unsure, have your vehicles inspected by a certified technician to ensure they are running as efficiently as possible.
* Air up. Properly inflate all four tires and the spare to the vehicle manufacturer's recommended levels. Check the sticker on the inside door jamb or the owner's manual. Under normal operation, tires can lose approximately 1 pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure every month. For every 10-degree change in ambient temperature, tire pressure can change by approximately one PSI. Check tire pressure once a month and always when the car is cool - meaning the car has been driven less than one mile or has not moved in at least three hours.
* Line up. Have your vehicles' alignment checked and the tires balanced and rotated according to the vehicle owner's manual. Anything you can do to help your tires roll smoothly will result in improved fuel mileage.
* Lighten up. If you have a trunk full of junk, empty it out and lighten the load for better fuel economy. If you drive a pickup truck and the bed is empty, leaving the tailgate down reduces drag and improves gas mileage.
This Labor Day, don't be reckless with your money at the pump. Be sensible with your vehicle and driving habits and leave the recklessness to the movies.
Trisha Hessinger, an automotive education specialist and former race car driver, is a national spokeswoman for Firestone Complete Auto Care's award-winning Car Care Academy program. For details on the program, visit www.FirestoneCompleteAutoCare.com.