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Tips to improve your vehicle's fuel economy

Driving smoother and reducing your car's idling time are among the ways to get the most out of your dollars at the gas pump.

March 10, 2011|By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times

With the price of regular unleaded gasoline topping $4 a gallon, auto information websites and have come out with a simple guide to get more mileage from your vehicle.

Drive smoother: Be gentle with your gas pedal and your brakes. There's no reason to speed up to a red light just to slam on the brakes. Aggressive driving will lower your gas mileage.

Slow down: Most vehicles get the best fuel efficiency at 45 to 55 miles per hour. Driving more than 60 mph can cut fuel efficiency 7% to 23%.

Reduce idling: Turn off your engine if you're waiting for more than 20 seconds. Idling wastes more gas than turning off your engine and restarting it.

Use lower-grade fuel: Regular unleaded fuel won't hurt most vehicles even if premium unleaded fuel is required. Unless your engine starts to knock or ping when using a lower-grade fuel, stick to regular.

Remove excess weight: An extra 100 pounds sitting in the trunk or back seat can reduce fuel economy as much as 2%.

Turn on the ventilator and turn off the air conditioning: The most efficient way to cool your car is with the air that comes in through your flow-through ventilator. Air conditioning or open windows (because of the drag) make your vehicle less fuel-efficient. Driving fast with the windows open can burn more fuel than the air conditioner.

Replace or tighten the gas cap: Fuel evaporates through gas caps with broken or weak seals, potentially reducing your car's mileage 2%.

Keep the tires inflated: Tires that are improperly inflated have a higher rolling resistance, which reduces efficiency. Keeping tires at the proper pressure can improve gas mileage much as 3.3%.

Change the oil: Energy-conserving or synthetic motor oil can reduce engine friction, improving efficiency as much as 2%.

Replace the spark plugs: Misfiring spark plugs can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30%.

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