Tips for saving gas and keeping your car 'green'

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With gas prices rising and many of us relying on gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs to get us through the mountains, be sure to practice fuel-efficient use and maintenance habits.

A single car can substantially affect the environment when not properly maintained. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average car emits as much as 575 pounds of carbon monoxide into the air each year.

Until automakers develop a more environmentally friendly automobile, it's up to individual drivers to help reduce their cars' footprints on the planet.

Here are five easy ways to improve fuel efficiency and drive 'green' without buying a new car or drastically changing your driving habits:

n Avoid topping off your gas tank when you are filling it. Topping off releases gas fumes into the air and overrides the pump's antipollution devices. Capping your tank after the pump automatically shuts off is safer for the environment because it reduces pollution.

n Always follow your car manufacturer's suggested tune-up schedule to ensure your vehicle is performing at its best. An out-of-tune engine can increase emissions and fuel consumption by as much as 15 percent, according to the EPA.

n Upgrade your motor oil. Some high-performance motor oils have been proven to significantly reduce emissions. Tests conducted by North Car--olina State University found one American motor oil that reduced carbon monoxide emissions by as much as 62 percent when compared with conventional synthetic and petroleum-based oils. High-performance oil also can improve fuel economy by as much as 5 percent and produces notable horsepower and torque increases. More information about these products is available at www.royalpurple.com.

n Regularly replace your air filter. A clogged air filter can increase fuel consumption by as much as 10 percent. Air filters prevent impurities from damaging the interior of the engine, so replacing dirty filters will save gas and protect your engine.

n Keep your tires properly inflated. The U.S. Energy Department reports under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by as much as 6 percent. One study estimates that 50 percent to 80 percent of the tires rolling on U.S. roads are under-inflated.

For more earth-friendly tips, visit the following Web sites:

n The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: www.epa.gov

n The U.S. Department of Energy's site dedicated to issues related to fuel economy: www.fueleconomy.gov.

For more information, call the CSU Moffat County Coope rative Extension Office, 539 Barclay, 824-9180.

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