Near record gas prices increase need for auto maintenance

A properly maintained vehicle gets better gas mileage and can save consumers money, especially in light of near record high gas prices.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Car Care Council, neglected maintenance is prevalent and costly:

27 percent of cars had low or dirty engine oil

23 percent had low tire pressure

26 percent had inadequate cooling protection

21 percent needed new belts

17 percent had dirty air filters

11 percent had low or contaminated brake fluid,

Valvoline Instant Oil Change recommends a variety of regular preventive maintenance services for cars to improve safety and fuel-efficiency, while extending the life of the vehicle.

Car care expert Gary Galick of Valvoline Instant Oil Change said preventive maintenance is key to having a safe and fuel-efficient vehicle. Galick should know—he’s been evaluating cars for 18 years at Valvoline Instant Oil Change, and from his experience, he suggests the following maintenance checks on a regular basis:

1. Tire Pressure and Rotation—Tires need to be properly inflated and rotated. Replace tires if worn or damaged. Tire inflation should be checked monthly. Properly inflated tires can result in increased fuel economy and safety.

2. Engine Oil and Filter—Have the engine oil level checked on a regular basis. Change oil and filter as directed in your owner’s manual (industry recommendations suggest every three months or 3,000 miles). Use the specified oil grade and weight; consider synthetic blend oils for maximum engine protection. Semi-synthetic and full-synthetic motor oils help improve and maintain fuel efficiency for the life of the oil (applies to 5W30 and 10W30 grades).

3. Coolant—Check the coolant level at the reservoir at each oil change. Coolant should be changed at the manufacturer’s recommended service interval, usually once a year. Cooling system neglect can be a common cause of engine failure.

4. Air filter—Have your air filter inspected at each oil change. An air filter that is clogged with dirt, dust and bugs chokes off the air and creates a “rich” mixture—too much gas being burned for the amount of air, which wastes gas and causes the engine to lose power. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent, saving about 15 cents a gallon. It should be replaced annually, when it’s dirty, leaking, torn, water or oil soaked, or showing other signs of wear.

5. Transmission Fluid—Fluid level should be checked at every oil change. Automatic transmission fluid (ATF) lubricates and cools your car’s automatic transmission. It’s important to have the car’s transmission fluid changed completely according to your manufacturer’s recommended schedule, as heat and mileage cause the fluid’s vital additives to become oxidized, depleted and inert.

6. Fuel System Services—Ask automotive specialists about available fuel system treatments to protect and clean the vehicle’s fuel and air intake systems, which restore engine efficiency and fuel economy. Specific services are based on mileage recommendations.

“People sometimes don’t realize how critical it is to have their vehicle properly inspected and services performed on a regular basis,” said Galick. “But these days, people are busy, and they need guidance and advice about regular checkups, inspections and preventive maintenance needs.”

For more information about Valvoline Instant Oil Change, visit

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