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Skimping On Auto Maintenance Today Can Be Costly Tomorrow


Auto Club Members Get Car Care Bargain During October Car Care Month

(LOS ANGELES, September 30, 2005) — Car and truck owners who defer regular vehicle maintenance risk engine failure, loss of fuel economy and compromise safety, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

The Auto Club promotes an annual fall check up for vehicles just prior to the cooler and rainy months ahead. The seasonal check-up also can serve as a baseline for future car maintenance.

"There are five examples of why following your car's recommended maintenance schedule is not simply another chore, but rather a way to ensure your vehicle operates safely, uses fuel more efficiently, lasts longer and retains it value for resale," said Richard Kretsch, manager of the AAA-approved auto repair program in Southern California.

To help Auto Club members with their vehicle maintenance this fall, members can obtain an oil and filter change, a 38-pt. vehicle maintenance inspection and battery test for $29.99 during AAA October Car Care Month at participating Auto Club–approved auto repair facilities. To find a repair facility, call (800) 713-0003 or visit

Kretsch says following these five maintenance tips will help motorists avoid budget-busting repair bills as well as keep the vehicle safe for motorists and passengers:

  1. Tire pressure. Why? Over-inflated tires ride roughly and suffer premature wear at the center of their tread. Under-inflated tires decrease fuel economy, cause imprecise handling, suffer premature wear at the edges of their tread and can overheat and fail at highway speeds. Tires typically lose about one pound of pressure per month through normal seepage and as seasons change, tires lose or gain another pound of inflation pressure with every 10 degree change in outside temperature.

    When? Check the tire pressures (including the spare) at least once a month when the tires are cold. Always follow the inflation pressure recommendations in your owner's manual, or those on the tire information label that is located in the glove box, on a door jamb, on the fuel filler door or the underside of the trunk lid. Don't use the inflation pressure molded into the tire sidewall; this is the pressure needed to achieve the tire's rated load capacity and it may or may not be the correct pressure for your particular car.
  2. Engine Air Filter. Why? Your vehicle's air filter prevents dust and dirt from entering the engine. A dirty or clogged air filter restricts the airflow and will reduce engine performance and fuel economy while increasing exhaust emission levels.

    When? Check the air filter every six months, or 7,500 miles. Typically, your repair shop will inspect the filter at each oil change. You can check it by holding it up to a 60-watt bulb. If you can see light through much of the filter, it's still clean enough to work effectively. However, if the light is blocked by most of the filter, replace it.
  3. Battery/Cables/Clamps/Terminals. Why? The power from the battery flows to the rest of your vehicle's electrical systems through its cables, clamps and terminals. If these components and connections become corroded or loose, or if the battery is failing, your car won't have the power needed to start the engine and operate other systems.

    When? The battery cables, clamps and connections should be inspected at every oil change. If there are signs of corrosion, or you notice other indications of electrical problems such as slow engine cranking or dimming headlights at idle, have your repair shop test the charging and starting system and clean and tighten the battery connections as necessary.
  4. Engine Oil. Oil is the lifeblood of your engine. Without adequate supply of clean oil, your engine will wear more rapidly, and could even seize and be destroyed. Oil doesn't freeze like water, but its viscosity (thickness) does increase as the mercury drops. Lighter grade oils reduce the load on your car's battery and starter, allowing more rapid cranking and starting. Lighter oils also reach critical engine lubrication areas much quicker than heavier oils, greatly reducing wear.

    When? Change your engine's oil and oil filter at the specified intervals and follow the more frequent "severe service" recommendations if your driving habits meet any of the conditions described in your owner's manual. Always use the weight of oil recommended by your vehicle's manufacturer for the existing temperature conditions.
  5. Windshield Washer Fluid. Why? Rain, insects and other debris clinging to your windshield will compromise your vision if they can't be removed by your windshield wipers. A supply of the proper washer fluid will help the wipers remove these contaminants effectively. Water is not effective in cleaning oils, and dirt from windows and it leaves water spots on vehicle paint.

    When? Check your washer fluid reservoir monthly and more often when you use the washers frequently. Fill it with a washer solution formulated to aid in the removal of insects and other debris and grime. During fall and winter be sure to use a solution with anti-freeze protection. Finally, test the washer spray nozzles for proper operation and aim.

The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest AAA affiliate, has been serving members since 1900. Today, Auto Club members benefit by the organization's roadside assistance, financial products, travel agency and trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs, insurance products and services and automotive pricing, buying and financing programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's web site at


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The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.