LOS ANGELES --- With gasoline prices rising, the Auto Club is reminding motorists they can save gas and money with one simple action: checking their vehicle's tire pressure. Properly inflated tires improve fuel economy,  the Auto Club said.

The Auto Club estimates that a southern California motorist who drives an average of 12,000 miles annually on tires that are under-inflated by 5-8 PSI (pounds per square inch of air pressure) is wasting up to 50 gallons of gasoline, or $192.50 (at $3.85 a gallon). That's close to the cost of a week's worth of groceries ($226) for a family of four, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If there are two drivers in the family, that total can be up to $380, well over a week's worth of food for the family.

"By taking five minutes each month to check their tires' inflation, car owners can save a lot of money and gasoline over time," said Steve Mazor, manager of the Auto Club's Automotive Research Center. "The Auto Club advocates proper tire care to improve fuel economy, reduce vehicle emissions and increase motorists' efforts toward greener living."

Vehicle handling can also be adversely affected by improperly inflated tires. Under-inflated tires run hot, which can lead to tire failure and a possible crash. Over-inflated tires can have uneven wear and make tires more susceptible to road hazard damage.

The Auto Club recommends that motorists regularly check tires when cool for uneven or excessive tread wear as well as proper inflation. Refer to the vehicle's door jamb or glove box for original equipment specifications or the manufacturer of the replacement tire for proper inflation. The correct PSI that's right for tires is located on the vehicle's tire information label --- not the sidewall of the tire.

The Auto Club also is offering its updated Gas Watcher's Guide, which offers numerous tips to help drivers conserve fuel, save money and protect the environment. The brochure is free and available at Auto Club offices.