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Tips for Motorists to Save Money at the Pump

Forecasters say the price of gasoline likely will set records throughout this busy driving season, which certainly will shrink many a bank account. Is there anything a motorist can do? According to the professionals at the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), changing a few driving habits and paying attention to routine vehicle maintenance will help. They offer the following tips on how to squeeze the most out of each gallon of gas. * Break your speeding habit. Speeding can decrease your miles per gallon by 15 percent or more. Sudden acceleration also can guzzle gas.

Anticipate traffic patterns ahead and adjust your speed gradually. When feasible, use cruise control. * Use windows and air conditioning wisely. Your mileage should improve if you keep the windows closed at highway speeds since air drag is reduced. This is true even with the air conditioning on - assuming that the system is in good working order, that is.

But try to avoid using your air conditioner in heavy, stop-and-go traffic. * Get organized. Combine your daily trips and errands and try to travel during off-peak times to avoid congested roads. Shut off your vehicle while waiting for friends and family as well. * Clean out clutter. Removing unnecessary items from your car will cut down on weight and less weight means better mileage. After family vacations, make sure you remove any items that you don't need for your regular day-to-day travel, such as a rooftop cargo carrier. * Check your tires. Underinflated tires or poorly aligned wheels waste fuel by forcing the engine to work harder. Wheels that are out of alignment, as evidenced by uneven tread wear, should be aligned by a professional.

* Follow the service schedules listed in your owner's manual. Replace filters and fluids as recommended. Take your vehicle to a repair facility to correct any engine performance problem, like rough idling and poor acceleration. Given today's high-tech engines, it's wise to have this type of work done by auto technicians who are certified by ASE to handle engine performance problems. * Keep your engine operating efficiently. A failed oxygen sensor or misfiring spark plug can reduce gas mileage. Moreover, a well-maintained engine can prevent minor problems from becoming expensive headaches. ASE was founded in 1972 to improve the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive technicians. ASE-certified technicians wear blue-and-white ASE shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact areas of certification. Their employers often display the ASE sign.


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