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April is National Car Care Month


Last updated 4/19/2007 at Noon

Rising fuel costs are on the minds of most Americans these days, as gas prices have topped $3 per gallon. Sure, everyone can simply stop driving as much, but for many consumers that’s not an option. However, there are two ways motorists can stretch their precious gasoline dollars.

One strategy is to change how they drive and the other is to perform simple and inexpensive vehicle maintenance. Taking these steps will not only save gas money but will improve a vehicle’s safety and dependability.

April, National Car Care Month, is an ideal time for motorists to review factors that can impact fuel economy. According to the Car Care Council (CCC), the most common factors are under-inflated tires, dirty air filters, old sparkplugs and something as simple as the gas cap.

• Check the vehicle gas cap. About 17 percent of vehicles on the road have gas caps that are either damaged, loose or missing altogether, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year.

• When tires aren’t inflated properly, it’s like driving with the parking brake on and can cost a mile or two per gallon.

• A vehicle can have either four, six or eight sparkplugs, which fire as many as three million times each 1,000 miles, resulting in a lot of heat, electrical and chemical erosion. A dirty sparkplug causes misfiring, which wastes fuel. Sparkplugs need to be replaced regularly.

• An air filter that is clogged with dirt, dust and bugs chokes off the air and creates a “rich” mixture – too much gas being burned for the amount of air, which wastes gas and causes the engine to lose power. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent, saving about 15 cents on a gallon.

• Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by as much as 22 percent on the highway and five percent on city streets, which results in seven to 49 cents per gallon.

• Sitting idle gets zero miles per gallon. Letting the vehicle warm up for one to two minutes is sufficient.

• Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each mph driven over 60 results in an additional 10 cents per gallon. To maintain a constant speed on the highway, cruise control is recommended.

Last year, vehicle checkup events conducted throughout the country revealed that nearly nine out of 10 cars required some type of maintenance. This reinforces the need for the motoring public to become more aware of the maintenance needs of their vehicle to save money, conserve energy, improve highway safety and help protect the environment.

Every motorist can receive a free 56-page Car Care Guide that takes the guesswork out of vehicle maintenance by visiting the CCC Web site,


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