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(NAPSA) Whether you're packing up the car and taking the kids on a road trip or driving around town on a "staycation," the summer season beckons us to venture out and enjoy the warm weather. Whatever your plans this summer, it often means putting a few extra miles on your car and paying more at the pump.

"As the temperatures go up, so does our desire to hit the road," says Jody DeVere, car care expert and president and CEO of the automotive advice site AskPatty.com. "But before you fill up at the pump for that road trip, there are some easy things you can do to save money on gas and keep your car running well through the hot summer months." Having received many questions related to the summer driving season over the years, Jody assembled this quick checklist to help motorists save money on gas and avoid heat-related breakdowns:

  1. Ensure that your tires are properly inflated. Properly inflating your tires can improve fuel efficiency. Check the owner's manual or look inside the driver's side doorframe for your vehicle's tire pressure rating. In the summer heat, tires that are not properly inflated are also more likely to blow.

  2. Check your coolant system. The coolant system works overtime in the summer to make sure your vehicle's engine doesn't overheat. It is suggested to flush and refill the coolant systems every other year. An engine that runs too hot or too cold can reduce fuel efficiency.

  3. Get an oil change. Regular oil changes help prevent engine wear and can even save on gas money. Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy, for example, provides up to two-percent fuel economy improvement. This fully synthetic motor oil also offers great engine protection in extreme temperatures. (Fuel economy improvement is based on a comparison versus those viscosity grades most commonly used and a potential two-percent fuel economy improvement. Savings estimates are based on a gasoline cost of $3 per gallon, average fuel economy of 22.5 mpg, annual mileage of 12,500 and lifetime mileage of 150,000. Actual savings are dependent on vehicle/engine type, outside temperature, driving conditions and your current engine oil viscosity.)

  4. Get a basic tune-up. A poorly tuned engine can reduce fuel efficiency. To ensure your vehicle's performance, be sure to get a tune-up once a year. It also provides an opportunity to check out your vehicle's systems, such as brakes and fluid levels.

  5. Don't speed. Fuel efficiency quickly decreases when you drive faster than 60 miles per hour. Sticking to the speed limit is not only safer, but can save you money.

  6. Get a car wash. It's true! A clean vehicle improves aerodynamics and, over long distances, can improve fuel efficiency and save gas.

  7. Check your air filter. A dirty air filter makes it harder for your engine to breathe and hurts gas mileage. The good news is that air filters are fairly inexpensive to replace.

  8. Roll down the windows. Try rolling down your windows instead of cranking up the air-conditioning. Air-conditioning reduces fuel economy, especially when driving around the city. On the highway, however, it is actually better to use air-conditioning. Having your windows down affects aerodynamics and causes you to burn more fuel.

  9. Park in the shade. Not only will this keep the inside of your car cooler, but also it helps save gas and reduce the workload on your air conditioner.

  10. Don't overload the roof rack. Lots of stuff on the roof creates drag and hurts your fuel efficiency. An overloaded roof can also be dangerous for vehicle control and handling. Consult your owner's manual for proper weight limits.

"Following these easy steps can save you money on gas and avoid the headache of a breakdown in the summer heat," says DeVere. "For a lot of families, it adds up to more summer fun with the kids."

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