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AAA kicks off annual Car Care Month October 1

Proper Car Maintenance Saves Money and the Environment

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(PORTLAND, Ore.) - AAA's annual Car Care Month begins today, and AAA Oregon/Idaho wants to remind drivers that proper car maintenance can not only save money but is also better for the environment. During the month of October, you can take your vehicle to any participating AAA Approved Auto Repair shop for a complimentary 35-point visual inspection (a $60 value) for anyone who calls to make an appointment. Certified technicians will inspect batteries, vehicle belts, hoses, tires, lights and fluid levels, and notify you if any problems are found.

"Knowing what and when maintenance needs to be performed keeps consumers from over- or under-maintaining their vehicle. Maintenance overlooked now could cost you more when the problem gets bigger or when it's time to trade in your car," says Earl Baker, Approved Auto Repair Coordinator for AAA Oregon/Idaho. "Proper maintenance also cuts down on the over-use of environmentally sensitive products such as motor oil, helps conserve gasoline and can prolong the overall life of a car.

Are You Over-Changing Your Car's Oil?
Many drivers believe their cars' oil should be changed every 3,000 miles, however most late-model vehicles now can go 5000 to 7000 miles between oil changes. "Having oil changes performed more frequently than needed is both a waste of money and an unnecessary additional burden on the environment," says Baker. He says you should check your vehicle's owner's manual to find out the manufacturer recommendations for changing the oil.

A Few Minutes a Month Can Mean Hundreds in Savings
Tire maintenance—including proper inflation and regular rotation/balancing—also saves money by extending the life of the tires while reducing a car's fuel consumption. Extending tire replacement intervals and using less gasoline also provide added benefit to the environment.

"Tires are essential to our vehicles, but they're frequently overlooked. Taking a few minutes at least once a month to check the tires could extend how long you can drive on them for thousands of miles, and it can improve a car's gas mileage," Baker says.

Under-inflated tires are a safety hazard and can cut fuel efficiency. Every pound of under-inflation can result in up to a two-percent loss in your vehicle's fuel economy. That can add up. Say you're driving a car that normally gets 23 miles a gallon, and each tire is under-inflated by just a pound. That means your mileage is as much as eight percent less than it should be, which means you're only getting about 21 miles per gallon.

Inspect your tires, including the spare, at least once a month. Check the tire pressure and make sure it's inflated to vehicle recommended maintenance levels and NOT the levels stamped on the sidewall of the tire. Baker adds, "One of the biggest mistakes people make when inflating their tires is referencing the wrong tire pressure level. Many incorrectly look to the sidewall of the tire. The correct pressure levels can be found on sticker on the driver's side door jamb or in the owner's manual."

While checking each tire's pressure levels, inspect the tire sidewalls for bulges, and check the tread for excessive or uneven wear that indicates the need for wheel alignment and/or tire replacement. For maximum life, rotate the tires at the mileage intervals specified in the owner's manual.

Baker says, "If you wait too long to inspect your tires, you may find that you have to replace a set of tires much earlier than expected, which can be an unpleasant hit to your wallet."

Ignoring Simple Things can Create Major Problems Down the Road
Following the vehicle manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule found in the owner's manual is the best way to keep a car running properly and avoid costly repairs. For example, Baker says dirty air filters can also rob a vehicle of fuel efficiency. Engines have to be able to breathe. A clogged air filter actually chokes the engine and can cause poor performance. Replacing the air filter can be a $20 fix that can help you get better gas mileage right away.

Baker says other common issues are hoses and belts that have deteriorated, worn out wipers and low levels of anti-freeze and other fluids. "Having proper levels of anti-freeze is especially important this time of year as colder weather moves in."

To find a participating shop near you, call 1-800-AAA-Help or go to the Automotive page ( at AAA has more than 8,000 Approved Auto Repair facilities in North America. AAA Approved Auto Repair shops are inspected and certified by AAA. The shops must meet and maintain stringent quality standards for customer service, training, equipment and cleanliness.

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