Weekly auto rail, with gas-saving tips, Car Q&A with Junior Damato and more.

Tip of the Week

Even with tighter budgets, millions of drivers are hitting the roads for a summer road trip with a desire to make every dollar count. For motorists, now is the time to make sure their vehicle performs at full strength, to save at the pump. Here's a simple checklist of tips motorists should perform to help keep their vehicles running safer, longer and more cost-effectively during the warm summer months:

- Check that tread: Motorists must take a few minutes to inspect their tires, or to visit a local tire and service outlet for a checkup. The price of gasoline provides even more incentive to check tire conditions and air pressure before heading off on summer trips. Advances in tire technology are helping deliver a new generation of moderately priced tires that offer the all-season traction and long tread wear consumers have come to expect, but with enhanced rolling resistance to help save money on gas.

- Don't overload: Vehicle overloading can occur when trying to jam too many extra items for an extended vacation. Check the owner's manual for the maximum recommended load details. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces a typical car's fuel economy by 1 to 2 percent.

- Get tuned in: Before taking that long trip, visit a trusted automotive outlet and make sure your car is properly tuned. Regular vehicle maintenance can improve gas mileage by an average of 4.1 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

- Wear a cap: Vehicle gas caps must be tight and undamaged. Approximately 17 percent of the vehicles on U.S. highways have either misused or missing gas caps, causing millions of gallons of gas to vaporize into the atmosphere.

- Be smooth: Aggressive driving wastes gas and can reduce your fuel mileage by 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent in the city. Observe the speed limit.

- Get up in the gears: The higher the gear you drive in, the lower your engine speed is, which can improve fuel efficiency. So change up a gear whenever you can. This can dramatically impact fuel efficiency.

- Cruisin' U.S.A.: Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will prevent stressful engine acceleration.

- ARA

The List

According to Forbes, here are the worst cities for auto theft:

1. Fresno, Calif.
2. Modesto, Calif.
3. Bakersfield-Delano, Calif.
4. Spokane, Wash.
5. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.

Did You Know

New York City police are going green – the department recently purchased 50 Chevy Volts for police use.

Car Q&A

Q: My question is about filling both my car and truck. I fill the gas tanks every week during my lunch break. I took my co-worker with me last week and he said not to overfill the gas tank. When the nozzle clicks stop, do not put any more gas in. I told him I can usually get another gallon in. He said this is not a good idea, but could not tell me why. Is this true and why?

A: This is very true. When you overfill the gas tank you take a chance of damaging the evap system in the vehicle, both cars and trucks. All late-model vehicles have a charcoal canister that can be damaged when the gas tank is overfilled. Remember, the gas will expand with heat. You also never want to buy gas when the tank truck is refilling the underground tanks at the gas station. Third, always buy gas in the early morning or at dusk. There is less vapor loss during these hours.

- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist

GateHouse News Service