Get the most out of your gas tank

June 9, 2014 12:00 AM

Road trips and travel are part of summer fun, and while gas prices are no longer every driver's worst nightmare, the numbers at the pump can still put a chill in the heart of many a car owner and a damper on summer plans.

According to AAA, California, Alaska and Hawaii have gas prices of over $4.00 a gallon, and in 22 other states gas prices have increased as much as 25 cents a gallon in the last year.

"Continuing geopolitical concerns, major refinery disruptions or a severe hurricane season (June 1- Nov.30) could send the national average higher than anticipated, while the absence of such catalysts could allow prices to fall below this range," AAA's report reads. 

So what's the best way to get the most out of that tank of gas?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, keeping your car in shape is one of the most important factors for fuel efficiency. There are four key areas to keep an eye on when maintaining your vehicle for fuel efficiency, all of which can be taken care of by your auto repair technician. 

Tire inflation
 Ensuring your tires are properly inflated can improve  your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent, the Department of  Energy says. Low tire pressure, on the other hand, can "lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires," the report says. Low tire pressure increases drag, which decreases your fuel efficiency. 

Engine tuning
A properly tuned engine is key to car performance. Fixing a seriously damaged engine can increase fuel efficiency by as much as 40 percent, while a car that failed an emissions test can, according to the report, improve its gas mileage by 4 percent once fixed. It's as simple as following the instructions in the owner's manual. 

Use appropriate motor oil
Like using the recommended type of fuel for your car, using the right sort of motor oil for oil changes plays into your car's efficiency and gas mileage. 

Replacing Air Filters
While the Department of Energy notes that replacing an air filter will not directly impact your MPG if your car was manufactured after 1980, replacing an old or damaged filter will increase acceleration in these cars. Replacing an old air filter in an older car- one that went off the lot before 1980 - can have a positive impact on MPG. 

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