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Maximizing Mileage

Maximize Your Gas Mileage While Gas Prices Soar

The traditional heavy summer driving season has not yet arrived, yet gasoline prices nationwide are already soaring. Prices are much higher than a year ago and could see even more volatility as the driving season progresses. To help motorists cope, the Department of Energy Alliance to Save Energy campaign offers consumer tips to get better mileage and reduce gasoline expenses.

"Keeping vehicles properly maintained and driving smart can significantly boost mileage and lower gasoline costs," said DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Alexander Karsner.

Alliance President Kateri Callahan added, "Households paid more than $4,000 last year to power their homes and vehicles. Con-sumers can cut those costs with [these] tips."

Basic Maintenance Pays Off

  • Keep your car properly tuned up to improve gas mileage by about 4 percent; replacing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve mileage by as much as 40 percent.

  • Keep air filters clean to improve mileage by up to 10 percent. Replacing clogged or dirty air filters also keeps impurities from damaging the inside of your engine.

  • Keep tires properly inflated to improve gas mileage by about 3.3 percent and improve tire safety and longevity. Every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires can lower gas mileage by 0.4 percent.

  • Use the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil to improve your gas mileage by another 1-2 percent. Look for "Energy Conserving" on the API performance symbol to ensure friction-reducing additives.

    On the Road...

  • Curtail aggressive driving. Speeding and rapid acceleration and braking cut mileage up to 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent in town. Nix jack-rabbit starts in favor of slow acceleration from a dead stop.

  • Obey the speed limit. Speeding cuts fuel economy 7 to 23 percent, as gas mileage decreases rapidly above 60 mph. Driving faster than 60 mph is like paying more than the posted amount for each gallon of gas.

  • If available, use your vehicle's overdrive gear when appropriate to reduce engine speed, which will enable you to save gas and reduce engine wear.

  • Use cruise control to help cut fuel consumption by maintaining a steady speed during highway driving.

  • Pack lightly when traveling, and avoid carrying items on your vehicle's roof. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk cuts a typical car's fuel economy 1-2 percent.

    • Avoid idling. Cars with larger engines typically waste even more gas at idling than cars with smaller engines.

    • Combine your errands into one trip and plan your routes carefully to drive fewer miles and use less fuel — and reduce wear and tear on your vehicle. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer, multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.

      Other Gasoline-, Money-Saving Options

    • If you own more than one vehicle, drive the one that gets better gas mileage when possible. If you drive 15,000 miles a year, you can save $645 a year by driving a car that gets 30 mpg rather than 20 mpg. That's $2,600 extra in fuel costs in just four years!

    • Carpool or ride-share. Some urban areas allow vehicles with multiple passengers to use High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes.

    • Use public transportation. Check the American Public Transportation Association's website for local public transit info.

    • If your employer permits, consider telecommuting or staggering your work hours to avoid sitting in traffic and wasting gas during peak rush hours.

    • Protect your health and your pocketbook by walking or biking to your destination whenever possible.

      Buying, Renting, or Leasing a Car

    • Federal income tax credits of $250 to $3,400 are available in 2006 and 2007 to purchasers of hybrid-electric or diesel vehicles, based on the vehicle's efficiency and fuel savings. Tax credits are dollars deducted from taxes owed. After each auto manufacturer has sold 60,000 hybrids, the credit begins to phase out — so it pays to put your order in sooner rather than later. Click here for details, and check out local excise tax reductions and other benefits for hybrid purchasers, too.

    • When buying or leasing a new vehicle, think high gas mileage. Check out the DOE website for information on fuel-efficiency.

    • When renting, ask for a model that gets better fuel economy. (Source: DOE)