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July 4 Fuel Saving Tips

BETHESDA, Md., June 12 -- With the July 4 holiday landing on a Friday, many Americans will take advantage of the long weekend by driving out of town. In light of the higher gasoline prices this year, the Car Care Council is offering gas-saving maintenance and driving tips that really work.

"Millions of dollars worth of gasoline is wasted every day by motorists, and neglecting vehicle maintenance is the culprit," said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. "Loose or missing gas caps, underinflated tires, worn spark plugs and dirty air filters all contribute to poor fuel economy."

The Car Care Council offers these fuel-saving tips:

Vehicle gas caps -- About 17 percent of the vehicles on the roads have gas caps that are either damaged, loose or are missing altogether, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year.

Underinflated tires -- When tires aren't inflated properly it's like driving with the parking brake on and can cost a mile or two per gallon.

Worn spark plugs -- A vehicle can have either four, six or eight spark plugs, which fire as many as 3 million times every 1,000 miles, resulting in a lot of heat and electrical and chemical erosion. A dirty spark plus causes misfiring, which wastes fuel. Spark plugs need to be replaced regularly.

Dirty air filters -- An air filter that is clogged with dirt, dust and bugs chokes off the air and creates a "rich" mixture -- too much gas being burned for the amount of air, which wastes gas and causes the engine to lose power. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent, saving about 15 cents a gallon.

Fuel-saving driving tips include:

Don't be an aggressive driver -- Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by as much as 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent on city streets, which results in 7 to 49 cents per gallon.

Avoid excessive idling -- Sitting idle gets zero miles per gallon. Letting the vehicle warm up for one to two minutes is sufficient.

Observe the speed limit -- Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each mpg driven over 60 will result in an additional 10 cents per gallon. To maintain a constant speed on the highway, cruise control is recommended.

As part of the "Be Car Care Aware" education campaign, the Car Care Council is also offering a free service interval schedule to help take the guesswork out of what vehicle systems need to be routinely inspected and when service or repair should be performed. The schedule can be printed for free from the Car Care Council's Web site at www.carcare.org.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the "Be Car Care Aware" consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers.

NOTE TO EDITORS: White is available for interviews