Fight skyrocketing gas prices by taking control of your vehicle's unnecessary fuel consumption, advises the Car Care Council. Consumers can add miles to every gallon they pump by following a few easy and inexpensive maintenance steps with their car, SUV, minivan or pickup truck.
"Most motorists don't realize that it's the little things that don't take a lot of time or cost much that can really make a difference when it comes to saving money at the pump," said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. "Loose or missing gas caps, underinflated tires, worn spark plugs and dirty air filters all contribute to poor fuel economy."
The Car Care Council offers gas saving maintenance and driving tips that really work:
* Vehicle gas caps - About 17 percent of the vehicles on the roads 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 and electrical and chemical erosion. A dirty spark plus 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 limitGas 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.
* Combining errands into one trip saves gas and time. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multi-purpose trip covering the same distance.
* Avoid carrying unneeded heavy items in the truck. An extra 100 pounds can cut fuel efficiency by a percent or two.
As part of the "Be Car Care Aware" education campaign, the Car Care Council is also offering a free service interval schedule to help take the guesswork out of what vehicle systems need to be routinely inspected and when service or repair should be performed. The schedule can be printed for free from the Car Care Council's Web site at http://www.carcare.org/service_schedule.shtml .