Ayers Automotive Repairs, at 1301 Chapala St. and 220 Anacapa St. in Santa Barbara, offers these top car maintenance tips:

» 1. Proper tire inflation and rotation: Underinflated tires suck up gasoline. Under- or over-inflated wear out tires much more quickly. Check them at least once per quarter (every three months). Alignments or at least an alignment check should be done twice per year.

» 2. Wipers: It’s not quite so difficult to avoid hitting things if you can see them. Fall is the best time to replace wiper blades. This is after they are baked by the summer sun and before the fall and winter nasty weather conditions.

» 3. Tune-ups: There’s no such thing on today’s cars. You can’t adjust valves, the ignition is computer controlled, and there are no carburetors to mess with. You need to replace spark plugs based upon the manufacturer’s recommendation. Instead, make sure you perform the “k” services that are recommended and replace the timing belt, spark plug wires and coolant when recommended.

» 4. High-octane fuels: It used to be the higher the octane the better. Today, however, higher octane doesn’t yield more power or mileage. In fact, in some vehicles using the wrong octane fuel can cause worse mileage and poor running problems.

» 5. Oil changes: Every 3,000 miles used to be the required routine. Now, manufacturers are saying anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000 between changes. However, beware that the new oils being required by the government have become very thin. Most vehicle manufacturers are requiring special oils, so be careful to make sure you are using the right oil to keep your warranty in effect.

» 6. Worn out tires. They wear out. After five years, even if the tread is still good, more than likely the rubber is worn out from heat, sun and ozone conditions.

» 7. Dirty air filter: Semi-clogged air filters hurt fuel economy for the same reason you can’t run efficiently with food in your mouth. When is the filter dirty? If you live a wonderful country setting with no dirt in the air, smog is nothing and you only drive occasionally, the air filter may not get dirty. If you live like the rest of us in gritty air-filled cities or if there is dirt on the roads, air filters need to be changed. Check them when the oil is changed in your vehicle.

» 8. Brakes: If you notice anything different about your brakes, the sound, feel or response, they are telling you to come have an automotive technician at Ayers Automotive Repairs check them out immediately!

» 9. Gas cap: Is that pesky check engine light on? The first thing to do is check to make sure the gas cap is on securely. If not, don’t flip out, tighten the cap and it may take a few drive cycles to reset the MIL On condition. The gas cap is part of your vehicle’s emission system. A bad seal on the cap can cause your vehicle to fail a smog/emission inspection. It doesn’t hurt to have the seal tested annually to make sure gas fumes aren’t venting into the atmosphere. Make sure if you get the type of cap that tethers onto the fuel pipe, replace it with the same type. That will help prevent leaving the cap on the top of your vehicle or the gas pump.

» 10. Parking your vehicle in the garage: The best way to protect your automotive investment is to park it in a protected area. In other words, garages are for cars — not all that junk we accumulate throughout the year.

Hope these tips for car maintenance from Ayers Automotive Repairs are helpful to you and keep your vehicle in tip top condition!

— Nikki Ayers is owner of Ayers Automotive Repairs.