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Cars Help Reduce Emissions & Last Longer ... If You Maintain Them

18 October 1999

ADVISORY/Cars Help Reduce Emissions & Last Longer ... If You Maintain Them


WHAT:             Hands-on demonstrations to show how car owners can
                  save money and clean the Texas air by maintaining
                  their cars. Also available for comparison will be a
                  display of worn parts and vehicle that has not been

                  In 1965, automobiles were responsible for more than
                  50% of the ozone producing pollutants in the air.
                  Today, that contribution has been cut in half to
                  less than 25%, even though the number of vehicle
                  miles has increased. The improvement has been a
                  shared responsibility among vehicle manufacturers,
                  car owners and mechanics.

WHO:              Patrick O'Reilly, AAA-Texas Master Certified Auto
                  Technician and manager of Approved Auto Repair, will
                  show how simple maintenance tips will help cars run
                  better, cleaner and longer.

WHEN:             Monday, October 18 -- 10 a.m.

WHERE:            American & Imports
                  13811 San Pedro
                  San Antonio

    Poorly maintained tires, batteries and vehicle fluids are among the ten most common reasons for vehicle breakdowns, according to AAA Texas.
    Based on roadside assistance data from AAA contracted tow truck operators, the Top Ten List of maintenance-related car breakdown causes (NOT necessarily ranked in order of frequency) are:

    -- Not rotating, aligning or inflating tires
    -- Ignoring brake noises or warnings
    -- Ignoring fluid leaks
    -- Ignoring dashboard warning signs or gauges
    -- Worn battery or bad battery connection
    -- Worn or cracked belts or hoses/loose hose or belt connection
    -- Not checking or changing fluids
    -- Worn universal/constant velocity joints on drive shaft
    -- Ignoring noise or vibrations from water pump
    -- Not changing fuel filter

    "Inadequate car maintenance means increased business for tow truck operators, but it also means costly delays and repairs for motorists," said Pat O'Reilly, manager of the Approved Auto Repair program, a network of AAA-inspected independent repair facilities that must meet strict quality standards. "AAA wants to remind drivers during National Car Care Month in October that a little time and money spent on regular maintenance goes a long way toward reducing the chances of a frustrating vehicle breakdown."
    While some AAA Texas members who call for roadside assistance have problems unrelated to car maintenance (such as locking keys in a vehicle), more than three-quarters of emergency calls involve towing, battery problems, difficulty starting the car or flat tires. Many of the problems could be prevented with proper maintenance.
    "Car owners who don't properly rotate or align their tires can cause premature tread wear leading to blowouts or flat tires," explained O'Reilly. "Water pump failure can lead to an overheated engine."
    Brakes don't usually fail suddenly -- they generally give warnings through noises or warning lights, added O'Reilly. Neglected fluids, hoses and belts can lead to engine breakdowns or overheating, and universal joints require regular inspections and lubrication to help prevent a breakage that could cripple the drive train. Fuel filters also need periodic replacement because a blockage will prevent fuel from reaching the engine.
    "The vehicle owner's manual is the most important tool a motorist has for preventing breakdowns," O'Reilly said. "By following the inspection and replacement recommendations in the manual, drivers can keep their vehicles on the road and out of the repair shop."
    More than 5 million car breakdowns per year could be avoided with proper maintenance, according to a national study conducted for AAA. The study also showed that while many motorists can "over-maintain" select items such as changing their oil, just 2 percent of them believe that belts and hoses are important maintenance items.
    AAA Texas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, has been serving Texans since 1905. Today, AAA Texas offers its members a full-service travel agency, auto-related services, financial services, public safety programs and legislative advocacy.