Keep car running longer for less

October 7, 2009

"Typically, people would keep their cars three to five years," says Catherine Rossi of AAA Mid-Atlantic." Now, more than 60% of owners are keeping their cars longer. They're trying to stretch their dollars and get more mileage out of their vehicles."

Maintenance is the key. A small investment of time or money now can save some major problems and expenses down the road.

The best example is getting regular oil changes -- every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. "Oil changes are the major things," says John Ryder, a mechanic for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "If you let the oil go down low, the oil will gum up. Eventually, your engine, you will be done."

You might not want to change the oil yourself. But you can definitely inspect your own tires. Look for smooth or worn-down areas, that could indicate low air pressure, which can cut fuel efficiency. And get them rotated to make them last longer.

Ryder says tires should be rotated at least every 5,000, but some models of cars, and some driving patterns require more frequent rotations.

You can also clean out debris that may be blocking your car's air intake and replace lightbulbs and worn windshield wipers yourself.

A relatively small investment in new wiper blades could save you the 200 to 300-dollar cost of a new windshield, since worn blades can scratch the glass and stop your car from passing inspection.

AAA is hosting a number of free car-care clinics, where you get a free 40-point inspection by a mechanic, who can recommend maintenance. For more information about the clinics, click here.

For other tips on saving money on car expenses, check out this Blog.

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