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Car care is definitely a win-win situation. Besides helping the environment, a properly maintained and operated vehicle will run more efficiently, will be safer, and will last up to 50% longer, according to a survey reported at the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. The following tips should put you on the road to environmentally conscious car care.


* Keep your engine tuned up. A misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30%. Follow the service schedules listed in your owner's manual, replacing filters and fluids as recommended.


* Check your tires for proper inflation. Underinflation wastes fuel-your engine has to work harder to push the vehicle. Wheels that are out of alignment (as evidenced by uneven tread wear or vehicle pulling) make the engine work harder too.


* Keep your air conditioner in top working order. Have it serviced by a technician certified to handle/recycle refrigerants.


* Observe speed limits. Mileage decreases sharply above 55 mph.


* Drive gently. Avoid sudden acceleration and jerky stop-and-go. Use cruise control on open highways to keep your speed as steady as possible; turn it off periodically to stay alert.


* Avoid excessive idling. Shut off the engine while waiting for friends and family. Today's vehicles are designed to warm up fast, so forget about those long idles on cold winter mornings.


* Remove excess items from the vehicle. Less weight means better mileage. Store luggage in the trunk rather than on the roof to reduce air drag.



Travel trivia answer

Northern: Point Barrow, Alaska; southern: Ka Lae (South Capae), Hawaii; eastern: West Quoddy Head, Maine; western: Cape Wrangell (Attu Island), Alaska