Now More Than Ever, Auto Club Recommends Vehicle Maintenance Tips for Most Gas Mileage

Urges Motorists to Conserve Fuel As Much As Possible

(LOS ANGELES, September 7, 2005) — Southern California is now being affected by last week's wrath of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast. The Automobile Club of Southern California is urging motorists to conserve fuel and adopt the most fuel-efficient driving style possible in the next weeks and months.

The Auto Club says good driving, repair and maintenance habits can help achieve fuel savings of 5% or more based on average miles per gallon over 1,000 miles driven. (Note: Tank to tank comparisons is effective because variations can occur based on weather and traffic conditions.)

"Making sure the vehicle is in good mechanical shape is one of the keys to getting the most mileage possible out of a tank of gas," said the Auto Club's Approved Auto Repair Program Development Manager Dave Skaien. "Adjusting your driving style will also help tremendously with conserving gasoline. Your driving style significantly affects your fuel economy."

  • Don't stomp on the accelerator. How hard you depress the throttle will greatly affect fuel economy. Drive "gently" to reduce excess gas use. Accelerate less aggressively, brake smoothly and stop speeding. Instead of driving aggressively, go on the defense and adopt a more fuel-efficient driving style. If you're not already driving defensively, now's the time to adopt a more laid-back and fuel-efficient driving style.
  • It's all about the oil. Proper oil maintenance and viscosity will help your car to operate at maximum efficiency. Heavy oil will cause the engine to work harder. Use the lightest grade oil for the Southern California climate. Check the chart in the owner's manual to find out what grade is best suited to your vehicle.
  • Let your engine coolant be cool. Improperly mixed engine coolant or poorly maintained cooling systems can cause your engine to run too hot and can hamper fuel economy. The right temperature makes the car run efficiently, so make sure your engine has fresh coolant.
  • Replace the dirty air filter. An air filter works hard on Southland freeways and roads and collects dust, dirt and debris. A clean air filter will help provide better gas mileage.
  • Fire up the spark plugs. A tune-up is a misnomer in this day in age. Computer-driven coil packs replaced the points, condenser and distributor in most vehicles a long time ago. However, spark plugs must fire properly for the engine to run smoothly. Replace the spark plugs on time, according to your owner's manual.
  • Don't ride around on big, big tires. For those who bought bigger tires and fancy wheels for SUV's and mini-vans, it's more than likely that fuel economy has significantly decreased. If you still have the original tires, switch them back. Consult the vehicle owner's manual for the correct pressure.
  • Tires. Tires. Tires. Maintaining your vehicle's tires is crucial to fuel economy, said Skaien. Every other fill-up, walk around the vehicle and check tires for uneven or excessive tread wear as well as proper inflation. Refer to the vehicle's doorjamb, fuel filler flap, or glove box for original equipment specifications or the manufacturer of the replacement tire for proper tire pressure inflation, he added. The Auto Club also recommends a tire rotation approximately every 7,500 miles, said Skaien. Check your owner's manual for your specific vehicle's service recommendations.
  • Service engine light. If the engine light is on, chances are one or more systems in the vehicle aren't working properly and can hamper fuel economy. Take the car into a reputable repair facility to be evaluated. Get a written estimate, if work is to be performed.
  • Keep it not so cool. Use your air conditioner sparingly.

There are nearly 600 Auto Club approved repair facilities in Southern California and more than 7,500 approved repair facilities in North America. The names and addresses of these shops can be located at www.aaa.com or by calling your local AAA motor club. All AAA approved shops are required to prominently display their affiliation with the Auto Club outside their place of business and many advertise Auto Club approval in the telephone directory.

Auto Club approved shops have met the association's tough requirements for employing qualified technicians, high customer satisfaction requirements, using quality parts and service equipment, and following ethical business practices. AAA members are entitled to free vehicle inspections when having other work — such as an oil change — performed on their vehicles.

The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest AAA affiliate, has served members since 1900. Today, the Auto Club's members benefit from the organization's roadside assistance service, insurance products and services, AAA Travel Agency, financial products, automotive pricing, buying and financing programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip planning services, and highway and transportation safety programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's web site at www.aaa-calif.com.

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