Consumers advocacy group weighs in on oil dependence

A national survey commissioned by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) shows: Over four-fifths (84%) of Americans are concerned about this oil import dependency, with more than one-half (52%) expressing great concern. When asked why they were concerned, large majorities expressed concern about future gas prices and supplies, and funding unfriendly foreign governments and terrorism, with majorities expressing great concern about each. In addition to providing useful surveys the CFA also provides us with 10 helpful tips on how drivers can best cut costs and gas consumption: 1. Check Your Air Filter: A clean air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10%, and nearly one in four cars needs an air filter replacement. Changing a dirty air filter can save the equivalent of 28 cents a gallon or carry you 23 more miles on a typical tank of gas. 2. Straighten Out: Poor alignment not only causes tires to wear out more quickly, but also forces your engine to work harder, which can reduce gas mileage by as much as 10%. Fixing improper alignment would be like saving 28 cents per gallon. 3. Tune Up: A properly tuned engine can improve mileage by 4% which is like saving 11 cents a gallon. 4. Pump 'em Up: More than one-quarter of vehicles have improperly inflated tires. The average under-inflation of 7.5 lbs. causes a loss of 2.8% in fuel efficiency. Properly inflating problem tires is like knocking 8 cents off a gallon of gas. 5. Check Your Cap: It is estimated that nearly 17% of cars on the road have broken or missing gas caps, which reduce gas mileage as well as possibly harming the environment. Fixing or replacing a faulty gas cap is like saving 2 cents per gallon. 6. Lose Weight: For every 100 extra pounds carried around, your vehicle loses 1-2% in fuel efficiency. For every 100 lbs you unload, you're saving the equivalent of 4 cents per gallon. 7. Don't Speed: For every 5 mph you reduce highway speed, you can reduce fuel consumption by 7%. If you typically drive 70 on the highway and slow down to 65, it's the equivalent of saving 19 cents a gallon. 8. Drive Smoother: The smoother you accelerate and decelerate, the better your gas mileage, with potential gas savings of 33% on the highway and 5% around town. Consumers who currently drive erratically can pocket the equivalent 48 cents a gallon by driving more smoothly. 9. Foot Off: Riding with your foot on the brake not only wears out brakes but can also reduce gas consumption by as much as 35%. If you kick the habit of driving with your foot on the brake, you'll get the equivalent of 96 cents per gallon in savings. 10. Don't Idle: If stopped off the road for more than 30 seconds, turn off the engine. Don't "warm up" your car before driving -- it is not necessary. For every two minutes that you don't idle, you'll save the equivalent of nearly 1 cent per gallon.

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