"Autumn is also a good time to check your spare tire to ensure that it is properly inflated," says Jim Travers, associate editor for autos at Consumer Reports and familiar with car maintenance. The typical space-saver spare tire found in most cars must be inflated to the inflation pressure listed on the side of the tire. A tire pressure gauge costs $7 to $20.
"Spare tires on pickup trucks and sport utilities are suspended underneath the vehicle on a cable, and that mechanism requires regular attention," says Pat Goss, master technician of PBS's "MotorWeek." Lower and raise that under-car spare to check if the cable mechanism works freely. In fall, spray it with a rust penetrant like WD-40 and then lube with white lithium grease. If the mechanism has seized, repair it immediately.
Tire pressure drops one PSI, or pound per square inch, for every 10-degree drop in temperature, according to the AAA, so check your tires on a weekly basis. The proper inflation pressure will generally be listed in your vehicle's owner manual and/or noted on a sticker located on the driver's doorjamb.