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Improve fuel economy with the right tools

Americans have been suffering “sticker shock” every time they pull into the gas station lately. Fuel prices keep rising, with no end in sight.

With high fuel prices on the minds of most Americans, finding ways to be more economical and fuel efficient are on the rise.

So, what can you do to save money? More and more automakers are developing new, easy-to-use tools to help drivers keep an eye on fuel efficiency.

• Make sure your tires are properly inflated. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, you can improve fuel economy by about three percent by making sure your tires are properly inflated, but not enough people do it.

The U.S. Department of Energy says nearly four million gallons of gas are wasted each day nationwide for every one psi of tire under-inflation. That translates to more than $10 million per day, or $3.8 billion per year in wasted gas money.

• Test your vehicle’s emissions systems to make sure the engine is working efficiently. Fixing an engine that has failed an emissions test may improve gas mileage by four percent, on average. That’s the equivalent of 12 cents per gallon.

• Change your car’s oil and filters regularly. Changing the oil regularly (as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer) will increase the life of the car’s engine.

Clean oil reduces wear caused by friction between moving parts, and it removes harmful dirt and grit from the engine.

The car’s air filter keeps impurities in the air from damaging internal engine components. Not only will replacing a dirty air filter improve fuel economy, it will protect the engine.

Clogged filters can cause up to a 10 percent increase in fuel consumption.

Recognizing that not enough people find time to keep up with vehicle maintenance issues due to busy schedules and family commitments, more and more automakers are working on ways to help drivers worry less and pay less.

GM is adding a new level of service to OnStar’s popular monthly diagnostic e-mail that allows drivers to closely monitor conditions that can affect their car’s fuel efficiency.

Enhancements to OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics, which collects valuable maintenance information on the vehicle’s four key operating systems, and sends a personalized e-mail directly to the owner, are being updated throughout 2006.

Soon, the system will notify drivers of select models of the actual psi reading for each tire, so they can make adjustments to improve fuel efficiency.

The e-mail’s oil-life monitoring feature now predicts the mileage at which the next oil change will be needed based on current driving patterns.

Enhanced vehicle emissions data gives consumers additional peace of mind that their emissions systems are operating efficiently.

Vehicles that can run on E85 ethanol have access to the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition’s (NEVC) handy E85 ethanol station on-line look-up tool through a hotlink in the OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics e-mail. When driving, drivers can receive directions to the nearest E85 ethanol station by pressing the blue OnStar button in their vehicle.

OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics, which has had more than 1.6 million subscriber enrollments since its launch in September 2005, is exclusively for GM customers, and subscribers can enroll in the opt-in service at no additional cost, by simply pressing their blue OnStar button and asking to be enrolled or by visiting the website, www.onstar.com.

OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics service can be activated on most 2004 model-year or newer OnStar-equipped GM vehicles that have GM’s Oil-Life System.

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