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Auto Club: Tips for Senior Drivers to Save Money and Keep Car Maintained


Auto Club Members Can Get Fall Vehicle Check-up Bargain

 (LOS ANGELES, Sept. 14, 2006) — Because many seniors live on fixed incomes, they may be tempted to put off paying for car maintenance — but that can cost them even more money in the long run, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

“Well-maintained cars are more reliable,” said Dave Skaien, program development manager for the AAA Approved Auto Repair Program. “While seniors living on a fixed income might be tempted to save a few dollars by delaying or skipping routine maintenance, doing that could actually cause a more expensive car breakdown.”

As part of national AAA Car Care Month in October, the Auto Club recommends that senior drivers and all motorists get an annual fall vehicle check-up prior to the cooler and rainy months ahead. The seasonal check-up also can serve as a baseline for future car maintenance.

To help all members save money on their vehicle maintenance, the Auto Club’s offering a oil and filter change, 38-pt. vehicle maintenance inspection, tire rotation, battery test and brake inspection for $29.99 during September, AAA Car Care Month in October and November at participating AAA-Approved Auto Repair facilities. To find a repair facility, call (800) 713-0003 or visit

Skaien says seniors who follow a car maintenance schedule, or who take their vehicle to a trust-worthy mechanic, will keep the vehicle safe. “These tips are important for retirees, telecommuters and students who are ‘short trip’ drivers. These types of drivers’ vehicle engines rarely get up to a temperature that makes the vehicle operate as efficiently as possible.”

The Auto Club recommends that drivers regularly check the following:

  • Tire pressure. Check tires (including spare) monthly when tires are cold. Always follow the inflation pressure recommendations in your owner’s manual, or those on the tire information label located in the glove box, or a door jamb, or on the fuel filler door. Over-inflated tires ride roughly and suffer premature wear at the tread’s center. Under-inflated tires suffer premature wear at the tread’s edges, decrease fuel economy, cause imprecise handling and can overheat and fail at highway speeds. Tires typically lose one pound of pressure per month through normal seepage. As seasons change, tires lose or gain another pound of inflation pressure with every 10 degree change in outside temperature.

  • Air Filter. Check air filter every six months, or 7,500 miles. Typically, repair shops will inspect the filter at each oil change.

  • Battery. More than 3 year old batteries should be tested regularly for proper operation, said Skaien. Battery cables, clamps and connections should be inspected with every oil change. If there’s corrosion, or 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.

  • Engine Oil. Oil is the lifeblood of your engine. Change your engine’s oil and oil filter at the specified intervals. Always use the weight of oil recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer for the existing temperature conditions.

  • Windshield Washer Fluid. 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. During fall and winter 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 member of the AAA federation of motor clubs, has served members since 1900. Today, the Auto Club’s members benefit by the organization’s roadside service, insurance services, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing and car buying programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip planning services, and transportation safety 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.