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Five tips to protect your automotive investment

With a typical family spending a large part of its annual

household budget on motor vehicle-related expenses, this much is

true: Proper car care is an opportunity to save money.

According to AAA, the average annual cost of owning and operating


a new car is just over $7,500. This is nearly 15 percent of the

average family’s annual income of $54,000. Families with two cars pay

even more.

With so much money going toward automotive expenses, AAA has


designated October as the time for a vehicle and tire checkup. The

auto club also provides free inspections whenever members bring their

vehicles to a AAA-approved shop for repair or maintenance.

“It’s easy to help safeguard this important investment and protect

against hazardous breakdowns,” said John Nielsen, director, AAA

Repair Network. “At least once per year, a professional (technician)

can determine if any maintenance or repairs have been overlooked.”

When having your vehicle inspected, AAA offers the following tips:


* Inspect the tires. Regardless of vehicle age or mileage, wear

and underinflation occur in most tires. It’s important to check your

tires at least once a year and before any trip.

* Check the brakes. If the vehicle has more than 30,000 miles on

the odometer, or it has been more than 30,000 miles since the last

brake job, it’s time to have your brakes inspected and possibly


* Replace the wiper blades. Inclement weather can occur anytime,


anywhere. Be prepared by having new windshield wiper blades


* Monitor the level and condition of oil. Change the oil if it has

been more than 7,000 miles since the last oil change. Keep in mind

that older vehicles will need more frequent oil changes.

* Check the coolant. Flush and refill engine coolant if it has

been more than three years since the last coolant change.

For more information about car maintenance, log on to