With gasoline prices rising fast and furiously, there has never been a better time to tune up your car and practice energy wise driving techniques.

Below is a list of tips that will not only improve your car's gas mileage, but also improve your car's overall performance and safety while reducing wear and tear on your car's engine.

Driving Tips

The first place to start is to drive smart. By simply practicing efficient driving techniques you can improve your car's fuel economy by more than 10%.

Observe the Speed Limit
Over 50% of the energy required to move your car down the road is spent overcoming aerodynamic drag (pushing air out of the way). As you drive faster, the aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance increase. Consequently, the fuel economy decreases rapidly at speeds above 55 mph. By staying within the speed limit, you are not only safer and obeying the law, but you can also save money.

Overdrive Gears and Cruise Control
When you use your car's overdrive gears you can still drive at highway speeds, but your car's engine speed decreases. Overdrive gears reduce both the car's fuel consumption and engine wear. Also, using cruise control on highway trips helps you maintain a constant, steady speed rather then a variable speed and as a result helps reduce your fuel consumption.

Anticipate Traffic Situations
If you can anticipate traffic conditions ahead of you and do not tailgate, you can avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration, and improve your gas mileage by 5% - 10%. This driving strategy is not only safer, but it will also reduce wear on your car's tires and brakes.

When driving in the city, nearly 50% of the energy needed to power your car is for acceleration. Unnecessary braking wastes that energy. Also, accelerating your car quickly causes your engine to enter a less efficient "fuel enrichment mode."

Avoid Unnecessary Idling
Most cars today do not need to be warmed up. In fact, no matter how efficient your car is, unnecessary idling wastes fuel, costs you money and pollutes the air. If you are going to be waiting for more then couple minutes in a drive-up lane, turn off your engine. Also, do not leave your car idling while you run into a store for a "quick" errand. Leaving your car idling is especially hard on your car in the hot summer months.

Planning Your Trips
Combining several errands into one trip saves you time and money. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when an engine is warm. Trip planning ensures that traveling is done when the engine is warmed-up.

With a little planning you can also avoid retracing your route and reduce the distance you travel. You'll not only save fuel, but also reduce wear and tear on your car.

If you can stagger your work hours to avoid peak rush hours, you'll spend less time sitting in traffic and consume less fuel. Also, if you own more than one vehicle, drive the one that gets the best gas mileage whenever possible.

Carpooling, Mass Transit, People Power and Telecommuting
Take advantage of carpools and ride-share programs. You can cut your weekly fuel costs in half and save wear on your car if you alternate driving with other commuters. Consider using public transit if it is available.

You may want to try biking or walking to work if it is within a reasonable distance. By simply walking or biking one day a week to work you can cut your commuting costs by 20%.

Finally, consider telecommuting from your home one or more days a week.

Vacations
Roof racks and carriers provide additional cargo space and may allow you to meet your space needs with a smaller car. But, a loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel economy by as much as 5%. To reduce the aerodynamic drag of these space savers and improve your fuel economy, place items inside the trunk whenever possible.

Avoid carrying unneeded items especially heavy ones. An additional 100 lbs. in the trunk can reduce a typical car's fuel economy by 1% -2 %.

Finally, if you are planning a long road trip and you own an older, inefficient car, you may want to look into renting a more fuel-efficient car for your trip. Rental car agencies often have special week-long rates and the increased fuel efficiency could make up the cost of the rental in fuel savings.

Maintaining your car

Simple no-cost or low-cost fixes like properly inflating your car's tires, replacing a clogged air filter or tuning your car's engine can dramatically reduce your car's fuel economy.

Maintain Tires, Wheels and Brakes
One of the easiest things you can do to improve the fuel economy of your car is to be sure that the tires are properly inflated. Car manufacturers are required to place a label in the car stating the correct tire pressure. This label may be found on the edge of the door or door jamb, in the glove box, or on the inside of the gas cap cover. If the label lists a psi range, use the higher number in order to maximize your fuel efficiency.

Radial tires can be under inflated yet still look normal, so check your tires with a gauge. On average, tires lose about 1 psi per month and 1 psi for every 10 degree drop in temperature. Frequently, under inflated tires cause fuel consumption to increase by as much as 6%.

Under inflated tires increase your fuel consumption, they wear quicker and can make it difficult to handle your vehicle. Be sure your wheels are aligned and your brakes properly adjusted to minimize rolling resistance.

Finally, some people often leave their snow tires on year round. While snow tires may improve fuel economy in the winter by giving you better traction, they'll cost you fuel and money if they are left on during the spring and summer. The money saved at the pump is worth the trouble of changing them.

Change Your Motor Oil and Air Filter Regularly
Changing the oil regularly (as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer) will increase the life of your car's engine. Clean oil reduces wear caused by friction between moving parts and it removes harmful dirt and grit from the engine.

Some oils contain additives that reduce friction and may increase a vehicle's fuel economy by 3% or more. Look for the Energy Conserving API label. This symbol indicates that the oil is a certified, fuel-efficient oil by the American Petroleum Institute (API).

Your car's air filter keeps impurities in the air from damaging internal engine components. Not only will replacing a dirty air filter improve your fuel economy, it will protect your engine. Clogged filters can cause up to a 10% increase in fuel consumption.

Keep Your Engine Tuned-up
Studies have shown that, depending on a car's condition, a poorly tuned engine can increase fuel consumption by as much as 10% -20%. By following the recommended maintenance schedule in your owner's manual, you will save fuel and your car will run better and last longer.

Buying a New or Used Car

Selecting which vehicle to buy is the most important fuel economy decision you'll make. The difference between a car that gets 20 mpg and one that gets 30 mpg amounts to approximately $1,500 over five years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's Environmental Protection Agency. These savings could be even greater given the steady rise in gasoline prices.

If you are considering buying a new car (or even a used car), carefully consider its fuel mileage. An automobile that gets high gas mileage can literally save you thousands of dollars in fuel bills over the life of the car and reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Filling up

Drivers can save money by sticking with regular unleaded gas. Only fill up with the more expensive grades of gas if your vehicle's manufacturer specifically recommends it.