by Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor at edmunds.com
1. Check Your Tire Pressure and Inflate Your Tires
Money saved: A tire-pressure check and inflation is usually combined with other routine services, but the estimate for the shop cost of this alone is $22-$30. The biggest savings, however, is the increased fuel economy that comes with properly inflated tires: $112 a year in gas, according to an Edmunds.com study of its employees. According to the same study, the savings could be as high as $800 for drivers with severely underinflated tires. If the nearly 250 million registered passenger vehicles in the United States were only 7 percent underinflated and owners brought their tires up to the specified level, the overall savings would be about $23 billion per year, according to a 2005 Department of Transportation study.
Time required: 15 minutes, once a month
Parts required: None
Tools required: Tire pressure gauge, air pump (usually free at a gas station)
Why DIY: Keeping your tires properly inflated is important for three reasons, according to Matt Edmonds, vice president of Tire Rack, an online tire retailer. As Edmonds tells us, properly inflated tires improve safety (your car handles better during emergency braking and cornering), prolong tire life (tires wear more evenly) and reduce fuel costs. "You never notice an underinflated tire until you have to slam on the brakes or swerve around something on the highway," Edmonds says. "That's when the underinflated tire can really affect performance."
How to do it: Follow the steps in "How to Check Tire Pressure and Inflate Tires" and watch this video.