(ARA) - The bad news is that gas prices are rising faster than at any time in the last twenty years, and it looks like the trend is going to continue. The good news is that there are things you can do to make your car more fuel-efficient and lessen the amount of money you pay to the pump.
The most important car care tip is to make sure you give your car a regular tune-up. Keeping your car in top condition means it will run efficiently and get more miles to the gallon. There's no hard and fast rule as to how often you should get a tune-up. Talk to your car care professional about their services and what can be done to your car. Services vary in the kind of maintenance that's included, so make sure you know what's been done to your car. Keep a small notebook in your glove compartment to write down the date and what was checked or replaced.
Keep track of your gas mileage to make sure your car is not using more gas than it was designed to use. You may not notice a big drop immediately, or even in a few months. But by keeping your car in good shape, the Car Care Council estimates that you may save up to $150 a year.
Check your tires to make sure they are properly filled. Low air pressure in your tires means your car has to work harder to move along, and that eats up gas. Tires lose pressure at different rates, so look at all the tires on a regular basis. Be sure not to over-inflate your tires and make sure your tires are also in good condition. Don't forget to have your wheels properly aligned as well.
Change your fuel filter at least once a year. A fuel filter can get plugged with debris. This not only can slow the process of gas getting to your engine, but it can stop your car cold if the filter is completely blocked and no gas gets through. A car care professional will be able to tell you when you need a new fuel filter.
Avoid using the air conditioner as much as possible. Most air conditioning systems require more fuel to keep them going. If you can, keep the windows open and let Mother Nature do the job for you.
Consider modifying your driving habits. It may seem like the world is speeding around us, but driving at a slower, constant speed will help to conserve fuel. Try to reduce heavy acceleration and hard breaking. Overloading your car, especially on long trips, consumes more gas. Try to travel light.
And it may sound old-fashioned, but the best way to save on gas is to not use your car. Think about car-pooling, biking or walking. Instead of making tiny trips from store to store, park your car and walk between the shops to do your errands. The exercise will make you feel better, too!
Higher gas prices may be here to stay, but you can save yourself some money by paying attention to your car and your driving habits.