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AAA Car Care Month in October is Time for Annual Vehicle and Tire Check

    ORLANDO, Fla.--Sept. 30, 2002--With a typical family spending 15 percent or more of their annual household budget on motor vehicle-related expenses, AAA is urging motorists to protect their automotive investment with an annual maintenance and safety inspection during AAA Car Care Month.
    Particular care should be taken to inspect and maintain tires, AAA said, because recent studies have shown a majority of vehicles have at least one under-inflated tire, which can compromise vehicle safety.
    During October, many AAA clubs and AAA-approved repair businesses will be offering free or discounted inspections to members and the public. Items to be inspected include tires, fluid levels, windshield wipers, batteries, brakes, lights, belts, and hoses. For information about local AAA Car Care Month activities, visit on the Internet, or telephone your local AAA club listed under AAA in the telephone directory.
    According to AAA, the average annual cost of owning and operating a new car is estimated to be $7,533(1). This is nearly 15 percent of the average family's annual income of $54,000, as calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    "It's easy to help safeguard this large part of the family budget and protect against hazardous breakdowns," said John Nielsen, director, AAA Repair Network. "Motorists with an appointment will usually need no more than 15 minutes to have their vehicle looked at by a professional technician. A professional can quickly determine if any maintenance or repairs have been overlooked and need to be performed. "
    AAA's more than 7,100 approved repair facilities agree to provide members with free inspections whenever they bring their vehicle in for maintenance or repair. Many AAA clubs also organize free vehicle inspection clinics in October, or arrange discounted inspections for motorists that want a vehicle check-up without other services being performed.
    Nielsen said a complete inspection should include the following items:

    1. Inspect tires regardless of vehicle age or mileage for wear and under-inflation. AAA has tire care advice available in a free brochure and on many AAA club Web sites.

    2. Check 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.

    3. Check all fluid levels, vehicle lights and belts and hoses. Refill, replace or adjust as necessary.

    4. Inspect and replace wiper blades if they are more than six months old.

    5. Look at the level and condition of the oil. Change the oil if it has been more than 7,000 miles since the last re-lubrication. Older vehicles will require more frequent oil changes.

    6. Check the coolant. Flush and refill engine coolant if it has been more than three years since the last coolant change.

    "A good place to learn about maintaining a vehicle is as near as the glove compartment," Nielsen said. "For specific maintenance information about the vehicle you drive, there is no more authoritative source."
    For reliable assistance with vehicle repairs and maintenance, AAA has identified a network of approved repair facilities that include new car dealerships and independent repair shops. These shops meet AAA's strict quality standards and display AAA's logo. A phone call to the local AAA club, a look at the local telephone directory, or a search of the club's web page ( will provide AAA members with the names, locations and phone numbers of approved facilities. Club membership publications also list these facilities.
    As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides its 45 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.
    (1) AAA's Your Driving Costs, 2002