Be a wise owl, not a jackrabbit on the gas pedal

URBANA, Ill. – As gasoline prices rise, consumers are looking for ways to improve their fuel efficiency and save some money at the gas pump.

You can’t change gasoline prices, but you can drive more efficiently and maintain your vehicle to lower your gasoline costs, says Jennifer Hunt, University of Illinois consumer and family economics educator.

Check your owner’s manual to ensure that you are using the level of gasoline octane your vehicle requires. You may not need the more expensive, higher octane gas. Yet, if your vehicle requires a higher octane, using the right octane level will keep your engine running more smoothly and efficiently, resulting in better gas mileage.

While reading the owner’s manual, check also the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle, suggested Hunt. Tire pressure is measured as pounds per square inch (PSI). Under inflated and improperly aligned tires decreases fuel efficiency.

Routine maintenance, including tune-ups and oil changes will keep your vehicle running efficiently. Change air filters, spark plugs and wires as recommended. Dirty air filters reduce performance and fuel efficiency by starving the engine for air.

Slow and steady.

How you drive will also effect your gas mileage. The faster you drive, the more fuel you use, so stay within posted speed limits. Also, use cruise control to keep your speed constant.

If you have extra weight in the trunk, remove it. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces a typical car’s fuel economy by 1 percent to 2 percent.

If your vehicle is a gas guzzler, you may want to consider the purchase of a more fuel-efficient vehicle. The difference between a car that gets 20 miles per gallon and one that gets 30 miles per gallon amounts to $1,500 over five years, assuming gas costs $1.50 per gallon and you drive 15,000 miles per year.

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