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Put Your Auto Maintenance in Gear

In a tough economy, it’s only natural to look for ways to cut corners. But trimming auto maintenance expenses isn’t worth the risk. Taking proper care of your car steers you on the road to safe driving. It can help to keep more cash in your pocket too.

Even the most cautious drivers are putting themselves in danger if they’re not driving a well-maintained vehicle. No one wants to be in a less-than-road-worthy vehicle during an emergency.

Most drivers are diligent about addressing major mechanical issues, especially since today’s cars have automatic alerts when a problem surfaces. However, many people overlook the basics – like tires – which can quickly outlive their usefulness. In recent surveys, The Rubber Manufacturers Association reported that nearly two out of three drivers do not know how to tell if their tires are bald and only 9 percent of vehicles have four properly inflated tires.

All too often windshield wipers go unnoticed until it is too late. It’s usually after a nighttime auto accident where there’s bad weather and little visibility, when a driver realizes that they haven’t replaced their wiper blades in years. Holding off on an oil change or spark plug replacement is not worth compromising safety either.

In addition to the peace of mind that comes from having reliable tires, windshield wipers, brakes, suspension and steering systems, there are other benefits from proper car maintenance:

* Save yourself from expensive car repairs after an accident that could’ve been prevented.

* Extend your vehicle’s life span and avoiding replacement costs for big-ticket auto parts. Consult your owner’s manual to determine how often you should perform certain services on your car. If you take a long road trip or have greater wear and tear on your car, think of making a visit to your auto mechanic ahead of schedule.

* Save money at the pump. If you drive a car with a poorly tuned engine or tires that aren’t properly inflated, you could find yourself filling up the gas tank more often. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve mileage by as much as 40 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environment Protection Agency.

* Score some discounts on your auto insurance policy.

In between scheduled maintenance checks with a mechanic, drivers should do routine checks on their own, too. It’s as simple as referring to the owner’s manual for instructions. A little more diligence with car care goes a long way.

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