Drivers are holding on to their cars longer in these tough economic times, so AutoZone, the nation’s leading auto parts retailer, is offering tips to help motorists get the most out of their investment.
“Holding off on purchasing a new vehicle can be a smart financial decision, especially if drivers properly maintain their vehicles to ensure they’re running safely and efficiently,” said Steve Stoll, Merchandising Director of AutoZone. “Maintaining and replacing key components, such as brakes and batteries, can keep vehicles on the road and help prevent costly repairs in the future.”
The average length of time consumers hold on to their vehicles is more than five years, according to a recent automotive industry study. Older cars can be safe and dependable, but need ongoing maintenance to keep them running at their best. According to the National Car Council, 80 percent of vehicles on the road are in need of service or parts.
Motorists who know the signs of impending failure and understand the impact extreme weather conditions can have on various car components, can plan ahead for repairs and replacements instead of being hit by an unexpected bill down the road, Stoll said.
“The longer car maintenance is delayed, the more costly it can be,” said Stoll.
Two key components in any vehicle are the braking system and the battery. AutoZone experts offer the following tips to ensure these vital parts are properly maintained.
Give brakes a winter check-up.
Excessive build-up of road salt and brine solutions in the winter on brake components is one cause of brake failure. These solutions can create contamination of exposed brake parts and can cause brake components to deteriorate prematurely. Hazardous road conditions can also lead to increased use of Antilock Braking Systems (ABS), which can cause premature wear of all brake system components.
As temperatures warm up, motorists should check their braking systems to uncover any damage that may have occurred during the winter months.
Check brakes quarterly to ensure proper performance.
In general, brakes are the most important safety feature on any vehicle and should be checked quarterly to ensure proper performance. Brake pads and rotors should also be checked any time the tires are removed, such as during a tire rotation. Other brake components such as brake fluid should be checked at every oil change.
Extreme temperatures can mean battery failure.
A battery’s biggest enemy is heat. High temperatures can cause the grids inside batteries to corrode and break down. The effects of the corrosion are usually seen when winter hits, when the car requires more electrical power to start. Drivers should have batteries tested up to twice a year in normal climates, and more frequently in extremely hot or cold climates.
Retailers such as AutoZone offer free battery testing.
Replace the battery every three to four years.
While batteries can last more than five years in ideal driving conditions, factors such as temperature, the car’s age and nature of usage can impact the life of a battery. Many motorists are unaware that under the stress of normal city driving, the average life of a vehicle battery is about three years.
According to the National Car Care Council, drivers with batteries more than three years old should consider replacing them, since batteries rarely give warning signs that they are about to fail. Drivers seeking more information about protecting their auto investments and extending the lives of their vehicles can visit www.autozone.com for car care tips, seasonal driving advice and maintenance how-to videos.