On The Road

3 easy-to-do tips for saving on gas costs for summer trips

Memorial Day marked the beginning of the summer driving season. The California Energy Commission offers a few simple steps to save on gasoline costs as the weather heats up.

Before you start the vacation engine, now is the time to brush up on getting control and controlling vehicle costs so you can spend more dollars on good food, better lodging and a longer vacation.

California has 175,000 miles of highway and in 1996 used nearly 14 billion gallons of gasoline. This week, gasoline prices were around $1.47 in the Santa Clara County area and are expected to increase slightly as the season continues.

The Energy Commission has recommended three car travel tips to help keep those gasoline costs in check:

Fill up with regular unleaded gasoline. Roughly 80 percent of today's vehicles are suited for regular unleaded gasoline. Roll up your windows and use the air conditioning. When driving more than 40 mph, using the air conditioning wastes less gasoline than rolling down the windows.

Keep up the tire pressure. John McAlister of the Los Altos Arco AM/PM store said under-inflated tires cut fuel economy by as much as 2 percent for each missing pound of pressure. As an additional service to motorists, the Energy Commission will post weekly average statewide gasoline prices. To find out prices, use the Internet at

gov/fuels.html and phone (916) 654-5020. Going slow uses less fuel and gets you there safely, state officials advised.

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