Soaring fuel prices have motorists scrambling to find ways to save money by using less gas. Sure, you can simply stop driving as much, but for many consumers, that’s not an option. But there are two ways all of us can stretch our precious gasoline dollars. One strategy is to change how we drive, and the other is to perform simple and inexpensive vehicle maintenance. Taking these steps will not only save gas money, but will improve a vehicle’s safety and dependability. The Car Care Council offers these gas-savings maintenance and driving tips: Check your vehicle gas cap. About 17 percent of the vehicles on the roads have gas caps that are either damaged, loose or are missing altogether, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year. When tires aren’t inflated properly, it’s like driving with the parking brake on, and can cost a mile or two per gallon. A vehicle can have either four, six or eight spark plugs, which fire as many as three million times each 1,000 miles, resulting in a lot of heat, electrical and chemical erosion. A dirty spark plug causes misfiring, which wastes fuel. Spark plugs need to be replaced regularly. An air filter that is clogged with dirt, dust and bugs chokes off the air and creates a “rich” mixture; too much gas is burned for the amount of air, which wastes gas and causes the engine to lose power. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent, saving about 15 cents on a gallon. Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by as much as 22 percent on the highway and five percent on city streets, which results in seven to 49 cents per gallon. Sitting idle gets zero miles per gallon. Letting the vehicle warm up for one to two minutes is sufficient. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each mph driven over 60 results in an additional 10 cents per gallon. To maintain a constant speed on the highway, cruise control is recommended. The Car Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” campaign, educating consumers about the benefits of regular vehicle maintenance and repair. For more information, visit www.carcare.org.