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Driving, vehicle tips will help you cut down on fuel costs

With gas at $4 a gallon nationally, and around $3.50 in the Tampa Bay area, everyone is looking to save money at the pump. For many drivers, small changes in how you drive can save you a significant amount of money. Based on data from Chevrolet, the fuel economy of drivers in identical cars can vary as much as 75 percent. Using identical models — the Chevy Cruz in this case — on a typical weekday commute, drivers returned a difference of 40 percent. That's a difference of 150 miles over a tank of gas and $100 a month over a year. To help squeeze more miles out of each gallon, Chevrolet offers these tips. Times staff writer

Driving tips

Go inside for your coffee rather than wasting gas waiting in the drive-through lane. Idling for 15 minutes could burn a quarter of a gallon of gas, adding another $1 to the cost of your latte.

On the interstate, try driving 70 instead of 80, as every additional 10 mph costs you 4 miles per gallon.

In town, driving with the A/C off and the windows down can save you as much as 10 percent of your fuel economy. At highway speeds, it's better to drive with the windows up, as the added wind resistance consumes much more fuel than air-conditioning.

Avoid aggressive acceleration, as jumping on the gas at every stoplight can decrease your fuel economy by as much as 20 percent.

Use cruise control when possible, as maintaining a consistent speed is much more efficient than repeatedly speeding up and slowing down.

Vehicle tips

Check your tire pressure. 10 pounds under the recommended pressure can cut your fuel efficiency by more than 3 percent.

Avoid any changes to your vehicle's aerodynamics. Up to a third of your fuel is used to overcome wind resistance at highway speeds, so even little changes like bike racks and window flags can have a big impact on fuel economy. When the season is over, take down your sports flags.

Avoid carrying extra weight, as every 100 pounds of cargo can decrease fuel efficiency by 2 percent or more.

Follow your service schedule, and don't ignore the "check engine" light. A serious engine problem can cost up to 40 percent of your fuel economy.

Consolidate your errands into one trip, or one afternoon. An engine at operating temperature is up to 50 percent more efficient than a cold engine.

Driving, vehicle tips will help you cut down on fuel costs 05/24/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 24, 2012 5:30am]

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