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Proactive vehicle maintenance can help to avoid winter breakdowns
December 3 2011
Performing simple maintenance can prevent an unexpected and costly roadside breakdown

(ARA) - As temperatures continue to drop, motorists should ensure their vehicles are winter-ready by performing simple maintenance checks.

Checking and replacing components such as belts and hoses, spark plugs and antifreeze at the correct time and mileage intervals for your vehicle could mean the difference between a $5 part or replacing a $3,000 engine.

Cooling system failures are the No. 1 cause of engine-related roadside breakdowns. 'Nobody likes being stranded on the highway, yet so many motorists wait until their cars break down to perform needed maintenance,' said AutoZ0ne spokesperson Sarah 'Bogi' Lateiner, ASE certified Master Mechanic and owner of 180 Automotive. 'The engine cooling system is one of the most important yet most neglected systems in a vehicle. Replacing antifreeze at regular intervals keeps the vehicle from overheating and provides freeze protection during colder months.'

Bad belts and hoses are the second most common cause of roadside breakdowns
'It's easy to neglect your car's engine, especially when there's no visible sign of trouble,' Lateiner said. 'Hoses for example, usually wear from the inside out and won't always show signs of wear. That makes it even more important for motorists to proactively check and replace parts such as belts and hoses and spark plugs at regular intervals. These parts are readily available at automotive retailers such as AutoZone.'

Replace spark plugs to get better performance and fuel economy
'Driving around with a worn spark plug is equivalent to throwing gas money out your exhaust pipe, Lateiner said. 'As spark plugs burn out, they do not burn fuel as cleanly, so it's important to replace them as your vehicle manual specifies.'

Courtesy of ARAcontent


More car care tips for winter travel

* Perform routine scheduled maintenance checks. Motorists should check their ownerís manual for a schedule of recommended maintenance intervals from the vehicle manufacturer. If the ownerís manual has been lost, many Web sites, such as the National Car Care Councilís Web site, www.carcare.org, offer a recommended maintenance schedule for vehicles.

* Be proactive. Donít wait for a breakdown to check under the hood. Replacing engine components at required intervals can help prevent an unexpected breakdown.

* Be prepared. Visit an automotive retailer such as AutoZone to purchase a roadside emergency kit. Also keep items such as a tire pressure gauge, spare serpentine belt and jumper cables handy.

* Check belts and hoses for signs of wear. Belt or hose failure is the second leading cause of roadside breakdowns and one in every five vehicles on the road needs to have a belt repaired. Belts often wear from the inside out and may not show physical signs of wear. Itís important to change your belt every 4 years or 36,000 miles. Belt changes are usually fairly simple and can sometimes be done by the motorist with just one tool.

* Replace worn out spark plugs and wires. Worn out spark plugs can cause poor fuel economy and driving problems. Even with new spark plugs, a vehicle can experience problems with hesitation and misfiring if spark plug wires are not replaced as well. Replacing spark plugs and wires can save motorists up to $100 per year.

* Check and replace antifreeze as needed. The engine cooling system is one of the most important systems in a vehicle but often is the most neglected. Motorists should check the water and antifreeze balance in their vehicles as winter approaches. A 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze will protect a carís engine in brutal cold and extreme heat. An unbalanced mixture can destroy a vehicleís engine.
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