With a gallon of gas approaching -- or even exceeding, depending on your brand -- the cost of a six-pack, millions of Americans are rethinking their travel plans for Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of summer and driving season.
Here'sa tip list, along with the estimated savings per gallon for each tip, which are based on May 2011 gas prices of $3.85 per gallon:
- Check your air filter. A clean air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10%, and nearly 25% of all cars could use a new air filter. Replacing a dirty air filter can save you 39 cents a gallon or take you 23 miles more on a typical tank of gas.
- Straighten out and drive right. Poor wheel alignment makes tires wear out more quickly and forces your engine to work harder, reducing gas mileage by as much as 10%. Aligning your tires can save you 39 cents per gallon.
- Tune up that engine. A properly tuned engine can improve mileage by 4% and save you 15 cents a gallon.
- Pump 'em up. More than one-quarter of all passenger vehicles on the road are under-inflated. And the average under-inflation of 7.5 lbs results in a loss of 2.8% in fuel efficiency. Properly inflating your tires can save you 11 cents a gallon.
- Check your cap. It's estimated that almost 17% of all cars on the road have broken or missing gas caps, which reduces gas mileage and possibly harms the environment as well. Fixing or replacing a faulty gas cap will save you 3 cents per gallon.
- Lose that extra weight. For each additional 100 pounds loaded into your car, you lose 1% to 2% in fuel efficiency. For every 100 lbs you manage to shed, you'll save the equivalent of 6 cents per gallon. So empty your trunk of any unnecessary items and save at the tank.
- Slow down, mister! For every 5 mph you knock off your highway speed, fuel consumption is reduced by 7%. So if you typically drive 70 mph on the highway, slowing down to 65 mph will save you 27 cents a gallon.
- Be a smooth (car) operator. The smoother you accelerate and decelerate, the better your gas mileage will be, with potential gas savings of 33% on the highway and 5% around town. Drivers who take off like a drag racer and approach lights at top speed before hitting the brakes can save 68 cents a gallon by taking it easy on the gas pedal.
- Keep your foot where it belongs. Driving with your foot on the brake will wear out your brakes and reduce gas consumption by as much as 35%. If you stop driving with your foot on the brake, you'll save the equivalent of $1.35 per gallon.
- Don't just sit there. If you need to stop the for more than 30 seconds, turn off the engine. And don't bother "warming up" your car before driving -- it's not necessary. For every two minutes not spent idling, you'll save almost 1 cent per gallon.