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AAA Survey Cites Top Five Car Troubles for 2005, NAPA Offers Solutions


ATLANTA - March 1 2006: Tire pressure was the number one vehicle issue identified during nationwide clinics conducted by AAA and its affiliated repair facilities during 2005 AAA Car Care Month. Results are based on inspections conducted on nearly 6,500 vehicles by 20 different AAA clubs.

As a leading automotive solutions source, NAPA has partnered with AAA to offer answers to the most common vehicle challenges.

"Drivers should check tire pressure at least once a month to assure tires are not under or over-inflated," said Mike Lavoie, the 2006 NAPA Technician of the Year and owner of Lavoie's NAPA AutoCare Center in Haverhill, N.H. "Low pressure in the tires can increase wear and fuel consumption, while having too much pressure may reduce traction. Keeping tires properly aligned will also help assure longer tire life and improve fuel economy."

During the AAA events, inspectors discovered the following:

-- Engine oil that was low or needed changing was the second most common situation. Operating vehicles that are low on oil will typically wear the top of the engine and, if the level gets too low, will allow the engine to overheat. Regular oil changes will add longevity to the engine.

-- Clogged air filters were the third most common issue. Lavoie said that maintaining and replacing air filters when needed will ensure better air flow through the engine. This, in turn, will improve engine efficiency and result in more power and better fuel mileage.

-- Low windshield washer fluid was the fourth area that needed to be addressed. Having enough washer fluid is important year-round to assure good visibility, an important part of safe vehicle operation.

-- Insufficient or dirty engine coolant was the fifth most common issue. Having a full cooling system is essential to maintaining a safe engine temperature, and dirty coolant with depleted additives can no longer protect the cooling system's iron, steel, copper and aluminum parts from corrosion and deterioration.

"The coolant reservoir should be checked monthly and topped off with the appropriate antifreeze and water mixture as needed," said Lavoie. "It's easy to check the windshield washer fluid at the same time."

Other areas cited as needing attention during the inspections included battery cables/clamps/terminals, antifreeze protection (for a minimum of -25 degrees Fahrenheit), wiper blades, tire tread (should have a minimum depth of 3/32") and transmission fluid.

"The results of our AAA Car Care Month inspections show that many drivers are not taking good basic care of their vehicle, which can lead to increased wear, breakdowns, or even accidents," said John Nielsen, Director of Repair, Auto Acquisition and Consumer Information at AAA.

"The vehicles they drive are often consumers' second largest investment--next to their homes," said Lavoie. "To keep automobiles operating as efficiently as possible, it is important for consumers to take a proactive approach to vehicle care and know specific areas to watch for during the coming year."

NAPA AutoCare Centers offer a preventive maintenance program that includes a complete inspection and regular monitoring of vehicle systems. Consumers can learn more about this program by contacting their local NAPA AutoCare Center.