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Fairfax AAA center offers tips to better gas mileage

Tuesday - 6/14/2011, 2:32pm  ET

AAA mechanics check out the WTOP news vehicle assigned to reporter Hank Silverberg. (WTOP Photo/Hank Silverberg)
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Hank Silverberg,

FAIRFAX, Va. - How's your gas mileage? Chances are some minor changes will get you more miles for fewer bucks during that big trip this summer.

That's what AAA is emphasizing Tuesday at its new Car Care Center on Main Street in Fairfax, where people were lining up to get their cars checked out.

"The most common affliction that causes poor gas mileage is poor tire pressure in the tires," says Car Care Center manager Jeff Boone.

Boone says tires should be inflated using the guide on the side of the car door jamb, not the printing on the side of the tires. Motorists also can get better mileage by making sure to get regular oil changes that include a clean oil filter and air filter.

Boone says avoiding rapid acceleration at lights and coasting into red lights also will help.

Ed Kriston, a master technician with AAA, also suggests not carrying excess weight in a vehicle's trunk and not using the air conditioning when it's not very hot.

The AAA Care Center is only the second of its kind to open in the Mid-Atlantic region. The other is in Frederick, Md.

The center offers discounts on repairs and parts to AAA members. Other AAA services, like TripTiks, are also available.

The fuel efficiency tips were news to some of those who stopped by for the checks Tuesday. Roger from Falls Church, who didn't want his last name used, brought in his wife's Lincoln Town Car . He says he inflates the tires on all his cars to 36 PSI.

Kriston told him that might actually give him poorer mileage because over inflation wears out tires faster. The door jamb sticker said 30 PSI for his car.

"I'm only 62 years old, it took me 62 years to find that out," Roger said with a smile.

WTOP also had one of its news vehicles checked out at the car center. The vehicle's tires were properly inflated and it had received a recent oil change.

Mechanics did find acid buildup around the batteries that can also damage fuel efficiency, but it was easily scraped off.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)