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Better road habits can boost your mileage

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Kayla Bunge
July 13, 2009
— Gas prices might not be as high as they were at this time last year—$2.39 a gallon compared to $4.08 a gallon—but really, is there ever a bad time to talk about boosting your fuel economy?

We didn't think so.


Here are some tips from fueleconomy.gov, a Web site maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:


On the road

-- Observe the posted speed limit. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds over 60 mph.


-- Stop aggressive driving. You can improve your gas mileage up to 5 percent in the city if you avoid "jackrabbit" starts and stops by anticipating traffic conditions and driving gently.


-- Use overdrive gears and cruise control when appropriate.


-- Avoid unnecessary idling.


-- Combine errands. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.


-- Remove excess weight from the trunk. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk can reduce gas mileage up to 2 percent.


-- Avoid packing items on top of your car. A loaded roof rack or carrier creates wind resistance and can decrease fuel economy by up to 5 percent.


At the garage

-- Keep your engine tuned. Tuning your engine according to your owner's manual can increase gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.


-- Keep your tires properly inflated and aligned. It can increase fuel economy up to 3 percent.


-- Change your oil. You can improve your gas mileage between 1 percent and 2 percent by using the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil. Motor oil that says "energy conserving" on the performance symbol of the American Petroleum Institute contains friction-reducing additives that can improve fuel economy.


Larry Kamholz, spokesman for AAA Wisconsin, said the No. 1 thing people can do to boost their fuel economy is to drive smart.


"Slow down, avoid the quick starts and stops and combine trips," he said.


Kamholz said as money gets tighter, people are learning they have to change their driving habits to get the most bang for their buck.


"People are a little bit more responsible for their decisions, not only in how they travel but where they travel," he said. "People know they have to cut back in places and make conscious decisions to alter their daily habits to save a few dollars."



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