September 19, 2006 01:01 ET

Tips for Senior Drivers to Save Money and Keep Vehicle Maintained

HOUSTON, TX -- (MARKET WIRE) -- September 19, 2006 -- Because many seniors live on fixed incomes, they may be tempted to put off paying for car maintenance -- but that can cost them even more money in the long run, according to the AAA Texas.

"Well-maintained cars are more reliable," said Patrick O'Reilly, manager of AAA Approved Auto Repair Program. "While seniors living on a fixed income might be tempted to save a few dollars by delaying or skipping routine maintenance, but doing that may cause a more expensive car breakdown."

As part of national AAA Car Care Month in October, AAA Texas recommends that all motorists get an annual fall vehicle check-up prior to the cooler and rainy months ahead. The seasonal check-up also can serve as a baseline for future car maintenance.

To help all members save money on their vehicle maintenance, the AAA Texas is offering an oil and filter change, 38-pt. vehicle maintenance inspection, tire rotation, battery test and brake inspection for $29.99 during September until November 30th at participating AAA-Approved Auto Repair facilities. To find a repair facility, call (800) 713-0003 or visit

O'Reilly says seniors who follow a car maintenance schedule, or who take their vehicle to a trust-worthy mechanic, will keep the vehicle safe. "These tips are important for retirees, telecommuters and students who are 'short trip' drivers. These types of drivers rarely get the vehicle's engine up to operating temperature which is necessary to make the vehicle operate as efficiently as possible."

The AAA Texas recommends that drivers regularly check the following:

1. Tire pressure. Check tires (including spare) monthly when tires are cold. Always follow the inflation pressure recommendations in your owner's manual, or those on the tire information label located in the glove box, or a door jamb, or on the fuel filler door.

Over-inflated tires ride roughly and suffer premature wear at the tread's center. Under-inflated tires suffer premature wear at the tread's edges, decrease fuel economy, cause imprecise handling and can overheat and fail at highway speeds. Tires typically lose one pound of pressure per month through normal seepage. As seasons change, tires lose or gain another pound of inflation pressure with every 10-degree change in outside temperature.

2. Air Filter. Check air filter every six months, or 7,500 miles. Typically, repair shops will inspect the filter at each oil change.

3. Battery. More than 3-year-old batteries should be tested regularly for proper operation, said O'Reilly. Battery cables, clamps and connections should be inspected with every oil change. If there's corrosion, or indications of electrical problems such as slow engine cranking or dimming headlights at idle, have your repair shop test the charging and starting system and clean and tighten the battery connections.

4. Engine Oil. Oil is the lifeblood of your engine. Change your engine's oil and oil filter at the specified intervals. Always use the weight of oil recommended by your vehicle's manufacturer for the existing temperature conditions.

5. Windshield Washer Fluid. Rain, insects and other debris clinging to your windshield will compromise your vision if they can't be removed by your windshield wipers. A supply of the proper washer fluid will help the wipers remove these contaminants effectively. Water is not effective in cleaning oils, and dirt from windows and it leaves water spots on vehicle paint. During fall and winter use a solution with anti-freeze protection. Finally, test the washer spray nozzles for proper operation and aim.

AAA Texas, a member of the American Automobile Association federation of motor clubs, has been serving Texans since 1902. Today, more than a million AAA Texas members benefit by the organization's roadside assistance service, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing, buying and financing, trip planning services, and traffic safety programs. Information about these products and services is available on AAA Texas' web site at

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