Posts Tagged ‘AAA Auto Buying Services’

As part of AAA Car Care Month, the motor club offers tips for vehicle upkeep that improve appearance and resale value

(Orlando, Fla. – 10/13/2009) When many motorists think of vehicle maintenance, the first things that comes to mind are oil changes and other engine upkeep. However, the steps to maintaining a vehicle, and its resale value, extend beyond what is under the hood.

“Motorists can extend the life of their vehicle’s interior and exterior the same way they take care of its mechanical parts—through proper maintenance,” said John Nielsen, director of AAA Approved Auto Repair and Auto Buying Services. “Forms of vehicle upkeep that are frequently thought of as cosmetic care can reduce wear and tear and help maintain a higher resale value.”

AAA recommends motorists perform the following maintenance tasks:

Vehicle Interior

  • Vacuum regularly and lightly shampoo the carpets as needed. Dirt remaining in the carpet greatly accelerates wear, but be careful not to soak carpets with too much moisture.
  • Use floor mats to protect carpet. Carpeted floor mats will collect dust and dirt and are best for dry climates, while protective vinyl floor mats are recommended in wet and snowy areas.
  • Wipe down dusty or soiled surfaces with a damp cloth. Follow with a UV-protective coating on vinyl and rubber surfaces. A solution with a matte or semi-gloss finish is preferred on the dashboard to reduce reflections in the windshield. Be careful not to apply petroleum-based products to plastic surfaces; especially clear ones. If the interior has leather, use products designed for cleaning and maintaining this material.
  • Clean stains from seats and other interior surfaces promptly to prevent them from becoming set. Use a cleaner recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer to prevent fabric, vinyl or leather damage. Test any non-approved product in an inconspicuous spot before use to make sure it is safe.
  • In hot and sunny climates, consider having the windows tinted to cut down on infrared rays that cause heat buildup and ultraviolet rays that fade and damage interior materials. Over-darkening windshields and front seat windows can compromise visibility and is frequently illegal, so use appropriate materials.
  • Use protective flooring and seat covers when transporting pets or items with sharp edges that could gouge upholstery or carpeting.

Vehicle Exterior

  • Wash the vehicle approximately every two weeks and wax it twice a year. More frequent washing and waxing could be advisable depending on climate and driving conditions. A good coat of wax looks great, protects the finish from contaminants it comes in contact with, and contains filtering chemicals that help reduce paint fading from the ultraviolet rays in sunlight.
  • When washing the vehicle, be sure to rinse out the wheel wells and accessible areas of the undercarriage. This is especially important where salt is used on roads in the winter as it will help prevent rust.
  • Use care when removing bugs and tar to avoid damaging the clear coat or paint. Auto parts stores, such as NAPA Auto Parts, carry specialty products that can ease removal without causing damage. AAA members qualify for discounts at all NAPA locations by showing their membership card.
  • Clean glass inside and out to ensure good vision. Use a product that does not leave streaks or cause glare.
  • Have small windshield chips repaired to prevent them from becoming cracks that require complete windshield replacement. Most such repairs can be made easily by an auto glass technician coming to the vehicle’s location.
  • Consider headlight restoration if the headlight lenses have developed a frosted yellow surface. This repair process restores a clear finish to the lens, which improves both vehicle appearance and nighttime vision. Do-it-yourselfers can purchase restoration kits at auto parts stores for approximately $20. Commercial services will typically do the job for between $50 and $100.

Another easy way to improve the resale value of a vehicle is by saving all of its maintenance records. Motorists can be as organized as keeping them in a file or just stuffing them the glove box. Either way, being able to produce a record of proper maintenance and repairs during ownership of the vehicle can add hundreds of dollars to a vehicle’s sales price. Also, most repairs come with some form of warranty, and documentation of the repair will be needed to support any warranty claim that might arise.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 51 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at

Preparing college-bound teens for life away from home can be an anxious and task-filled time.  

(Orlando, Fla. – 8/20/2009) While many parents will be teaching and reminding their teens about diet, laundry and personal safety, they too frequently forget the important subject of car care and repairs before sending their teen and vehicle off to college.

“Learning the essential points of car care is something that ideally should be part of the process of learning to drive,” said John Nielsen, director of AAA Approved Auto Repair and Auto Buying. “But often those key points are never taught or only briefly reviewed and never utilized because the teen’s vehicle is maintained by someone else while they are living at home.”

Before sending their teen and vehicle off to college, AAA encourages parents to review four main areas about properly maintaining a vehicle and preparing for the unexpected.

Check and Maintain Tires

The four points where the rubber meets the road are the only things that stand between teens and a crash. They are one of the easiest items on a vehicle to maintain, but frequently are forgotten until something goes wrong.

  • Parents should make sure their teens have a tire pressure gauge in their vehicle, know where it is located and how to use it properly. While there are a variety of tire pressure gauges, those with electronic readouts might be the easiest for the teen to use.
  • Explain that tires should be checked at least once a month when the tires are cold.
  • Show teens where to find the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure—which is located on a label on the driver’s door jamb or in the glove box. It’s important that teens know they should not use the inflation pressure found on the tire sidewall. That is the tire’s maximum pressure level, but it might not the correct pressure for the tire when used on their particular vehicle.
  • Take teens to a gas station with an air pump and let them practice adding air to their tires so they are familiar with how it’s done.
  • Make sure teens know they should also check the tire pressure in the spare tire as well as the four tires on the vehicle.
  • Explain what to look for when examining the tread of their tires. Look for any nails or other objects that might be stuck in the tire and mean it’s in need of repair. Inspect the tire for bulges or other abnormalities that would signal the need for replacement.
  • Demonstrate how to check tire tread depth by inserting a quarter upside down into a tire groove. If they can see above Washington’s head anywhere they check on the tire, it’s time to start shopping for new tires.

Know the Maintenance Schedule

Performing the manufacturer’s regularly scheduled maintenance on a vehicle will greatly extend the life of the vehicle and ward off costly repairs down the road. While it’s a good idea to make sure their teens car is current with all maintenance items prior to sending them off to college, it’s possible some items will come up while they are away.

  • Make sure the owner’s manual is in the glove box of the vehicle.
  • Explain the recommended maintenance schedule outlined in the owner’s manual. Many teens may only be aware of oil changes as regular maintenance, so be sure they see other fluids and items must be regularly checked and maintained.
  • Make the teen aware of what their current mileage is and at what mileage mark it’s time to perform maintenance again.

Find a Repair Facility Near College

Depending on how frequently teens return home or how far away their college is located, they might be able to have regular maintenance performed at their families’ usual auto repair shop while at home visiting. However, even if this is the case, it’s important for parents to help teens identify an auto repair shop they can trust near their school in case an unexpected repair is needed.

  • If unfamiliar with the area around the college, look for a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility. As a free public service for all motorists, AAA inspects auto repair shops around the country and only approves those that meet and continually maintain high professional standards for equipment, customer service, cleanliness and training. To search for a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop nearby, visit
  • If possible, parents should accompany their teen to the shop while they are in town. Allow the teens to be introduced shop owner and/or management so they will be more comfortable with them should they need return there with a repair emergency.

Prepare for Roadside Emergencies

It’s important for parents to prepare their teens for a breakdown or other roadside emergency—especially if they are attending college too far away to ‘call home’ for help.

  • Provide teens with membership with a motor club that provides reliable roadside assistance, such as AAA. When selecting a motor club, be sure to choose one that will not expect motorists to find their own towing company or pay for service up front and later be reimbursed. Also, ensure they have a large dedicated network of service providers that offers plenty of coverage in and around the location of the college. Be sure teens keep their membership card with them at all times. If they are AAA members, the benefits will follow the teen no matter whose vehicle in they are in, so parents don’t have to worry about their teens stranded in a friend’s vehicle without emergency road service.
  • Make sure the teen’s vehicle has a well-stocked roadside emergency kit, and it’s updated based upon the season. A few key items the kit should include are a flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, a first-aid kit, bottled water, rags or paper towels, a tire pressure gauge, a blanket, granola or energy bars, a flathead and Phillips head screwdriver, an adjustable wrench and pliers. During the winter months in areas with inclement weather, add in an ice scraper, snow brush and kitty litter or other material to increase traction if stuck in snow.
  • In addition to making sure the spare tire is in good condition and properly inflated, be sure the vehicle has a working jack and tire iron. Also, if the vehicle uses locking lug nuts, explain how they work to the teen in advance and where the key is located.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 51 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at




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