4 Air filters are used on all vehicles for obvious reasons of course. However, over time and depending on driving conditions, the filter can easily be clogged with dirt and debris. If the engine utilizes a panel filter, it can easily be tapped gently on the floor to remove the large debris. Pressurized air can remove the smaller debris (office duster works great). Make sure you blow the opposite direction of the air flow intake tract to prevent particles from being further imbedded into the filter. Cone filters can also benefit from spring-cleaning and there are cleaning kits available to clean the filter. Air filters should be inspected every 10,000 miles and cleaned or replaced when necessary. Difficulty: 3 to 4.

5Depending on what type of ignition system your engine utilizes, some incorporate an ignition cap and rotor for transferring amplified ignition charge to the plug wires. After several hundred thousands transfers of ignition charge, the cap and rotor can wear, which can lead to misfires. The cap and rotor should be checked every 20,000 miles and replaced when the wear is too excessive. Difficulty: 4 to 5.

6Although plug wires rarely go bad, an intermittent ignition misfire can keep you scratching your head for weeks. One of the easiest ways to check if the plug wires are still good is by checking the resistance in each wire. By using a digital meter check the resistance of each wire by connecting one lead on one end and the other lead on the opposite end. With the leads connected lightly stretch and twist the plug wires to see if there is any drop in resistance. Using the same process, check the rest of the wires. If there are discrepancies in the plug wires, replace them. Difficulty: 4 to 5.

7Ignition timing is crucial to performance. Over time, the ignition timing can change due to timing belt stretch. Unfortunately, checking ignition timing requires specialized equipment. The vehicle's optimum ignition timing at idle should be posted on the underside of the hood or engine compartment lid. Difficulty: 8.

8Last on the list of tune-up basics is finding out the condition of the powerplant by checking the compression. Although checking the compression does not help increase performance or gas mileage, it does give you an idea how well the engine is doing. Like checking ignition timing, checking the compression on an engine requires specialized equipment. Most factory vehicle manuals will give you an average of what the compression reading should be and the minimum compression each cylinder should make. Checking the compression is not easy and if you don't know what you are doing, we recommend leaving it to the pros. Difficulty: 9.

Just because gas prices are drastically increasing doesn't mean operating costs for your ride should follow suit. Incorporate these easy tips and you can easily increase fuel economy and performance, without taking out a loan to pay for your next trip to the pump.