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Budget-savvy summer travel tips

(BPT) - More than half of vacationers this summer will alter their summer driving leisure plans because of gas prices, according to a recent study by the U.S. Travel Association....

(BPT) - More than half of vacationers this summer will alter their summer driving leisure plans because of gas prices, according to a recent study by the U.S. Travel Association. Rather than changing family vacation plans, simply perform some proactive vehicle maintenance to ease the pain at the pump and get the most out of your gas tank.

A few minutes of proactive maintenance, including checking and replacing oil and spark plugs at recommended intervals, can often improve fuel efficiency, according to AutoZone.com. Many motorists are unaware that simple routine maintenance can not only get you to your destination safely, but can help get the most out of your gas dollars.

To help motorists maximize their fuel economy on their summer road trips, AutoZone is offering these tips.

* Switch to a synthetic motor oil. Consider changing to a quality, synthetic oil such as Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy. For the everyday driver, synthetic motor oils deliver up to 2 percent fuel economy improvement. (Comparison based upon 2 percent potential fuel economy improvement obtained by switching from higher viscosity oils to a 0W-20 or 0W-30 grade. Actual savings are dependent upon vehicle/engine type, outside temperature, driving conditions and your current engine oil viscosity.)

* Check and maintain all fluid levels. These fluids include engine oil and transmission fluids. And be sure your antifreeze/coolant is up to the task for hot summer temperatures to prevent engines from overheating. Replace fluids if needed, according to recommended service intervals.

* Replace spark plugs, oxygen sensors and air filters as recommended. Spark plugs can affect fuel efficiency, emissions and economy. As spark plugs wear, they do not burn fuel as cleanly, which is why it is important to change spark plugs at the proper interval. Motorists should purchase the correct type of spark plugs and replace them at the interval recommended by the manufacturer. If the owner's manual has been lost, many websites, such as the National Car Care Council's website www.carcare.org, offer a recommended maintenance schedule for vehicles.

Replacing oxygen sensors can significantly improve gas mileage. Check and replace one- and two-wire sensors every 30,000 to 50,000 miles and every 60,000 to 100,000 miles for "heated" type oxygen sensors.

Replacing a clogged air filter can lead to increased performance and acceleration. Air filters should be checked at every oil change.

* Be proactive. Proactive checks and preventative maintenance of critical engine components can be the difference between staying on the road and being stranded on the roadside.

* Be prepared. Visit an automotive retailer such as AutoZone to purchase a roadside emergency kit. Also keep items such as a tire pressure gauge, spare serpentine belt and jumper cables handy.

* Extreme temperatures can mean battery failure. Corrosion caused by heat is the leading cause of battery failure, and batteries often do not give noticeable warning signs if they're about to fail. Retailers such as AutoZone offer free battery testing in most states.

For a total budget-savvy summer travel solution reference, AutoZone's Trip Smart 2012 Travel Guide can be found at: http://www.autozone.com/autozone/landing/page.jsp?name=trip-smart-travel-guide. The guide, sponsored by Mobil 1, lists the best U.S. vacation destinations to visit on a budget and incorporates gas-saving and summer efficiency tips. Remember to take care of your vehicle before you hit the road, so your vehicle can take care of you.

Drivers seeking more information about taking a "Smart Trip" this summer can visit www.autozone.com for car care tips and maintenance how-to videos or to download a free copy of the Trip Smart 2012 Travel Guide.

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