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Memorial Day Weekend, Summer Travelers Can Cut Gasoline Costs in Tough Economy with Money-Saving Tips, Resources

WASHINGTON, May 11 With the Memorial Day holiday weekend and heavier summer driving season approaching, and with gasoline prices nowhere near last summer's record highs, thoughts turn to weekend and vacation road trips as a great escape from economic reality.

The Alliance to Save Energy's interactive Drive $marter Challenge fuel efficiency website provides vacationers and everyday drivers with hundreds of dollars of money-saving gas tips, resources, and myth busters that respond to the call of frugal drivers: Why pay more for gasoline than you have to, particularly in this economy?

Whether you are headed to the big city or the great outdoors or staying closer to home, you can start saving money on gas even before you are on the road with a little advance planning, basic maintenance, and your driving and other choices:

  Planning your vacation:
  --  Get a customized vacation map with low gas prices along the route.
      Getting lost while driving in unfamiliar areas could lead to an
      expensive waste of gas. Resources on the Drive $marter Challenge
      ources.aspx) can help your family print a customized vacation map that
      highlights low-cost gas stations along your route.
  --  Choose the right vehicle.  If your family has more than one vehicle,
      drive the car that gets better gas mileage if possible.
  --  Rise and shine!  When possible, drive during off-peak hours to reduce
      gas costs and stress by avoiding stop-and-go or bumper-to-bumper
      traffic conditions.
  --  Investigate other travel options. Consider trains, buses, or public
      transportation to your vacation destination when possible.

  --  Explore new ways to get around at your destination.  Find information
      on biking, public transportation routes, car sharing, walking, and
      renting hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicles on the Drive $marter
      Challenge website resources page at
      urces.aspx .

  Before you leave: maintenance tips
  --  Inflate your tires.  Keeping your tires properly inflated improves gas
      mileage by around 3%.
  --  Select the right oil.  Using the manufacturer's recommended grade of
      motor oil improves gas mileage by 1 to 2%. Motor oil that says "Energy
      Conserving" on the API performance symbol contains friction-reducing
      additives. Change your oil as recommended to extend the life of your

  --  Tune up.  Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an
      emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%.

  On the road: driving tips
  --  Decrease your speed.  Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly above 60
      mph. Each five miles per hour over 60 mph is like paying an additional
      20 cents or more per gallon for gas.
  --  Drive sensibly.  Speeding, rapid acceleration (jackrabbit starts), and
      rapid braking can lower gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds.
  --  Use cruise control and overdrive gear.  Cruise control cuts fuel
      consumption by maintaining a steady speed during highway driving. 
      Overdrive gear, when appropriate, reduces engine speed, saves gas, and
      reduces engine wear.
  --  It's a "drag." Avoid carrying items on your vehicle's roof. A loaded
      roof rack or carrier increases weight and aerodynamic drag, which can
      cut mileage by 5%. Place items inside the trunk when possible to
      improve fuel economy.
  --  Turn down the air.  Operating the air conditioner on "Max" can reduce
      mpg by 5-25% compared to not using it.
  --  Avoid idling, which gets 0 mpg. Cars with larger engines typically
      waste even more gas while idling than cars with smaller engines.
  --  Navigate with a GPS system.  GPS systems can help you find your way
      and, increasingly, GPS programs can search for low-priced gas at
      nearby stations.
  --  Fill up before returning rental. Rental car companies charge higher
      gas prices if you don't fill up the tank before returning the vehicle.
      Keep your gas receipts in case the company requires receipts to remove
      a gas surcharge.