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Easy Car Maintenance

Every dollar spent on car upkeep can save you $2 by warding off roadside emergencies. Start with an annual inspection and the maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual. Then follow these steps to make the most of your tune-ups and to prevent a budget-busting breakdown.

  • Stop, look, listen Repairs cost less when you catch problems early, so pay attention to signs that something is wrong. Don’t ignore the engine light if it comes on. Listen for squeaky brakes and be sure to get them inspected.
  • Remember the Tin Man Checking your oil is one of the easiest things you can do to make sure your car runs efficiently. Going too long without changing it will make your engine wear down more quickly than it otherwise would.
  • Watch the tires President Obama was right—properly inflated tires give you better gas mileage, and they’ll last longer. Check them at least once a month—don’t forget the spare—to be sure that they’re set at the correct air pressure.
  • Consult with Washington Take a quarter from your change holder and press it into the center tread of your tire with George going in headfirst. If you can see all of him, it’s time to re-tire.
  • Scrub it Looking good never hurts, and clean cars hold their value better than dirty ones. Washing and waxing yours will protect the exterior paint, too.

AAA Car Care Plus and Approved Auto Repair facilities offer one-year warranties on most repairs. For the shop nearest you, call (800) 645-4288 or visit

This article was first published in July 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.