www.baltimoresun.com/business/bal-bz.recession.mileage07feb07,0,4913.story

baltimoresun.com

Better driving can keep your car running longer

By Lorraine Mirabella | lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

February 7, 2009

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If you've had to put off buying a new car, you might be thinking instead of how to get the most life out of your current vehicle.

Start by slowing down.

That's one tip offered by the Environmental Protection Agency on ways to conserve gas and increase gas mileage.

The EPA says aggressive driving, such as speeding and rapid acceleration and braking, can lower gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town.

Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. That translates into paying an extra 24 cents per gallon for each 5 mph over 60, the agency says.

Tests have shown drivers can cut fuel consumption by as much as 15 percent simply by adjusting their driving behavior, and by another 15 percent by keeping closer to the speed limit, said Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing for automotive research Web site Edmunds.com.

"Speed has a big effect, especially on the highway, and how liberally you use the throttle," Edmunds said. "If you're always on and off the gas and following closely, making adjustments and hanging back a little bit pays huge dividends."

You can also increase mileage by removing unnecessary, heavy items from your vehicle, using cruise control on the highway and being conscientious about maintenance.

The EPA suggests keeping your engine properly tuned, checking and replacing air filters regularly, keeping tires properly inflated and using the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil.

"There's definitely greater attention being paid to keeping your car running," Edmunds said. "More people are interested in preserving the car they have because they're not going to run out and buy a new one, presumably."

And lastly, the EPA says, planning trips can go a long way toward boosting fuel efficiency. Several short trips can use twice as much fuel as a single long trip, covering the same distance when the engine is warm.


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