Ten tips for improving your truck or SUV's gas mileage

You may be starting to feel a budget pinch from the rising gas prices, and the crunch is definitely making more people think about gas-saving alternatives.

Some people have traded their large vehicles in for something that uses less gas, but those of us who need a truck for pulling trailers or hauling firewood, trading our truck in for a fuel efficient car isn't an option.

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Increasing your truck's gas mileage is the best solution, and some improvements are easy to accomplish if you are willing to practice strategies that are known to improve mileage.

Here are a few ways to increase your gas mileage:

Perform regular

maintenance tasks

You'll use less gas if you keep your vehicle tuned up and running like it should. Read your owner's manual and make sure your tires are inflated as the manufacturer recommends, because under inflation creates a drag that reduces fuel economy.

Don't forget about your truck's wheel alignment, because you won't get optimum gas mileage if the truck isn't rolling straight.

Maintain good

aerodynamics

Installing a bed cover on your truck helps its aerodynamics. Air rushes over the cover and off the back of the truck, instead of into the bed, where it pushes on the tailgate and creates drag that can make you use more gas.

Roof racks are handy sometimes, but carrying things on the roof creates another source of drag that can increase your gas consumption. Keep your roof clear unless you actually need to haul something from one place to another.

Keep it steady

Continuous up and down acceleration and braking lowers your gas mileage. Use your cruise control on the highway to help maintain a constant speed and take it slow and easy on starts and stops.

Slow down a little in general if you can, because the truck uses more gas when you drive at higher speeds.

Use the right kind

of gasoline

Read your owner's manual to find out which type of gas the manufacturer recommends for your vehicle.

Use a good brand of gas, one with detergent additives that keep the system clean, but don't buy more expensive premium if the automaker recommends regular.

Turn it off

when you can

If you're stopped in traffic, turn the vehicle off. Don't sit there and idle for 10 minutes.

Avoid drive-thru windows with long lines. Park the truck and go inside the bank, restaurant, pharmacy or other business.

Plan your route

Try to plan your trips to avoid congested, high-traffic areas with repeated traffic snarls and stop-and-go driving.

Use your air

conditioning less

Air conditioning makes the truck use more gas, so turn it off when you can and try the vents instead.

Reduce the A/C's load by parking in the shade so that the truck doesn't heat up as much during short stops. Leave the windows or sunroof cracked slightly if you'll be right back or if you're close enough to run out and shut them if a rain shower erupts.

Combine trips

Try to combine your errands so that you can get everything you need during one trip, especially if you live a distance from shopping areas.

Don't haul items

you don't need

You'll improve your gas mileage if you lighten up the load. Remove unnecessary items from the truck bed or cargo area.

Carpool or ride a bike

It's not always possible, but carpooling can save you a lot of dollars in fuel bills. Carpooling drivers are allowed to use less congested Interstate highway lanes in many cities during rush hours, so you might even get to work faster.

Consider public transportation if you live in a city or town that provides it. Ride a bicycle for short trips, or walk to your destination. You won't use any gas at all and you'll be a step ahead with your daily exercise.

For more information, visit: http://trucks.about.com/od/fueleconomyratings/tp/improve_mileage.htm or contact Elisa at the CSU Moffat County Extension Office, 539 Barclay St., at 824-9180.

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