When it comes to driving, how you treat your wheels has a direct impact on your wallet. Which is why experts say a few simple checks now and again could save you from writing some big checks later on.
Let's start with tire inflation.
"A third of us are driving around on improperly inflated tires, with that improper inflation tending to be under-inflation," says Robert Sinclair of AAA.
Think of it this way: If your bike has under-inflated tires, you have to work a lot harder to make it go. The same rule applies to your engine. And the harder your engine works, the faster it burns up fuel.
"Let's say you never check your tire pressure, which is quite common for most people, over a 10-month or 12-month period," says Eugene Petersen, the tire program leader for Consumer Reports. "Your air pressure might be down 10PSI from where it should be. That might mean you lose as much as one mile per gallon."
Improperly inflated tires also wear out faster, meaning you'll have to replace them more often. And tires aren't cheap.
"Typically, for the type of tire we test, you're going to spend between $100 and $200," Petersen says.
That cost is per tire.
Petersen says a good set of tires, properly cared for, should last you about 60 to 70,000 miles. That means checking the pressure monthly and rotating them regularly, typically every 5 to 8,000 miles, as noted in your vehicle manual.
Speaking of tread wear, small change can make a big change when it comes to the price you pay for new tires.
Insert an upside penny into the tread. If the top of Lincoln's head shows, that means you have less than 2/32nds of treadwear left. Go get new tires right now. However, if you do this test with a quarter rather than a penny, you could buy yourself some time.
"The top of George's head to the edge of the coin is 4/32nds, a bit deeper," Petersen says. "The idea behind that is, with 4/32nds of tread left, you still have some performance left in the tire. You can do some research. You can research for the tire that you want at the best price that you can find."
For that, turn to the web. Dealers and retail chains may match the internet price and if they won't, you can always buy online.