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Tune up, slow down and unload to squeeze extra miles per gallon

Published: October 12, 2011 12:01 AM
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NAPS - You cannot stop what seem like constant increases in the price of gasoline, but you can take several common-sense steps to squeeze more miles out of a gallon.

"Although today's vehicles are engineered with fuel-saving technologies, it still takes maintenance to ensure your vehicle performs as efficiently as it did when it left the factory," said Roger Clark, General Motors Energy Center senior manager. "Drivers can improve their own fuel economy by making some very minor behavior changes."

Here are a dozen tips for fuel savings from Chevrolet Certified Service:

1. Tune Up: A properly tuned engine can improve fuel economy about 4 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Fixing a serious issue, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can boost mileage up to 40 percent, so do not ignore a service-engine-soon light.

2. Pump Up: Properly inflated tires improve gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent. Underinflated tires can lower fuel economy by 0.3 percent for every one pound-per-square-inch drop in the pressure of all four tires. Do not rely solely on the tire pressure-monitoring system to detect an underinflated tire; it is best to check tires with a good gauge once a month and check your owner's manual for more information.

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3. Unpack: Carrying unneeded cargo makes your vehicle work harder and use more gas. The EPA says an extra 100 pounds reduces fuel economy up to 2 percent, even more in smaller vehicles. A loaded roof rack cuts fuel economy by up to 5 percent because a quarter of each gallon of gas goes toward overcoming wind resistance.

4. Slow Down: While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph, according to the EPA. Every 5 mph over 60 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas.

5. Avoid Idling: A car gets 0 mpg when the engine is idling: While it does take a small amount of fuel to restart a vehicle, 15 minutes in the drive-through can burn through a quarter of a gallon of fuel.

6. Chill Out: Speeding, rapid acceleration and braking can lower gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent in city driving.

7. Put it in Overdrive: Using an overdrive gear on the highway reduces engine speed, saving both fuel and engine wear.

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8. Roll 'Em Down Around Town: Air conditioning reduces fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent. Avoid using the air conditioner by rolling down the windows at speeds below 40 mph. At speeds above 45 mph, wind drag uses more fuel than running the A/C.

9. Unclog: It is hard to run if you cannot breathe. Older cars without fuel injection and computer-controlled technology can lose 14 percent of their fuel economy because of a dirt-clogged air filter. In modern cars, replacing a dirty or clogged air filter improves acceleration performance.

10. Use the Right Oil: Because oil reduces engine friction and friction makes an engine work harder, using the manufacturer's recommended grade of oil improves fuel economy by 1-2 percent.

11. Plan Your Trips: Taking your kids to soccer or swim classes? Grocery shopping? Combining trips saves fuel and time.

12. Cap Check: Loose or poorly fitting gas caps not only can trigger the "check engine" light, they send 147 million gallons of gasoline into the air as vapor every year, according to the Discovery Channel. A missing or poorly fitting cap can reduce fuel economy by 1-2 percent.

For more easy vehicle-care tips, check with your local Chevrolet Certified Service technician or see www.mycertifiedservice.com, where you can view eight new informative videos that include easy vehicle-care tips.

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