ABC7 On Your Side: Car maintenance

LOS ANGELES Today's gas prices are leaving many wallets running on empty. Drivers are shopping around for deals. But the key to savings may be right under the hood.

It's getting tougher to make ends meet these days, and ABC7 On Your Side is a campaign to help you save money. Watch Eyewitness News for money-saving tips and freebies to help stretch your dollar.

Experts say simple maintenance routines can save you up to 50 cents a gallon.

"Things like spark plugs, things like motor oil, tire pressure, air filters. While each one can be very small, when you take it all together it can be a major change in fuel economy," said AAA auto repair expert John Nielsen.

Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.

Also, be sure to check your oil cap for the recommended grade.

"Using the wrong one can definitely impact your fuel economy," explains Nielsen.

But using the right one can increase efficiency another two percent.

If engine maintenance hasn't been at the top of your to-do list, a simple tune-up and new spark plugs will boost fuel economy about four percent.

And never ignore the vehicle's check engine light.

"The check engine light on your vehicle is designed to tell you when something is wrong with the cars' computer system, and that can have a major impact on fuel economy," said Nielsen.

When it comes to hitting the highway, properly inflated tires and slowing things down can have huge payoffs.

"The difference between 70 and 60 mph in an SUV could have as much as an 18 percent impact on fuel usage. That's huge," said Nielsen.

Every little bit helps.

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