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By Jim Kerr

School is out and trips to the lake, campground or family holidays are on many minds. But if you have been watching fuel prices, you are also aware that they tend to rise rapidly around holiday season. While they may not hit the highs of last summer, they are increasing. You can take some action, however, to help keep your fuel costs down.

According to Goodyear Canada, the top five ways to increase your vehicle’s fuel efficiency take very little effort on your part: Number one on the list is a daily inspection of tires. The Rubber Association of Canada found that almost one quarter of vehicles on the road have at least one tire under-inflated by more than twenty per cent. Most drivers recognize that very low tire pressures can cause a tire to overheat and fail, but under-inflated tires also wear faster. It could decrease the life of the tire by 15,000 kilometres and increase fuel consumption by four per cent or more. It takes very little effort and cost to purchase a tire pressure gauge and use it often. The savings can be huge.

If you need new tires for your vehicle, consider the many fuel saving tires now available. Low rolling resistance tires have been used on Hybrid vehicles but are now found as original equipment on other vehicles. These tires can easily lower your fuel consumption by one to two per cent alone!

Number two on Goodyear’s list of fuel saving tips is to lighten up: remove excess weight from your vehicle. This means cleaning all the junk out of the trunk and considering what you are packing before you travel. For every 45 kilograms of weight you remove from your vehicle, gas mileage can increase by one to two per cent.

Tip number three is to drive with the windows closed. Vehicle designs are tested in wind tunnels to minimize drag. Opening a window increases the drag and decreases fuel economy. Air conditioning systems are also more efficient, so it uses less fuel to keep the windows up and the AC on, especially on the highway.

Keeping your vehicle tuned is tip number four. Regular tune-ups can increase fuel economy by four per cent or more. Replace dirty air filters so your engine can breathe easier. One intermittently misfiring sparkplug might not be noticeable in everyday driving, but it will cause a lot of extra fuel to be used. Some vehicle manufacturers recommend sparkplug change intervals as high as 160,000 kilometres, but experience has shown that many of these vehicles need sparkplugs sooner.

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