Drivers Flunk Car Care


Vehicle inspections done for an aftermarket automotive group found consumers falling behind on maintaining fluids, including engine oils, coolants, transmission fluids and brake fluids.

The Aftermarket Automotive Industry Association, in conjunction with a coalition of aftermarket companies and organizations, created a public relations campaign to educate consumers under the theme, “Be Car Care Aware,” which includes the National Car Care Month inspection program.

Volunteers across the country conduct vehicle inspections, with a portion returning their vehicle inspection forms to the associations Car Care Council for tabulation and analysis. The 2009 campaign, conducted in April and October 2009, included results from 860 vehicle inspections in 12 states nationwide, up from 722 vehicles in 2008.

Each year, community car care events routinely identify that consumers are not taking proper care of their vehicles, said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. Neglected vehicle care almost always means much higher costs down the line, either in the form of more extensive repairs or lost resale value.

Nearly three out of 10 vehicles (27 percent) failed the inspection in 2009 because of low, overfull or dirty engine oil. The percentage was down from 32 percent in 2008.

Twenty-six percent of the vehicles inspected had low, leaky or dirty coolant in their radiator or surge tank, the councils analysis found, up from 21 percent in 2008. The figures showed 21 percent had either low, overfull or burnt transmission fluid in 2009, compared to 17 percent the year before.

Inspections found 17 percent of vehicles had problems with their washer fluid and power steering fluid last year, compared to 15 percent in 2008. About 13 percent had issues with their brake fluid in 2009, down slightly from 13 percent the year before.

Results showed the vehicle failure rate for at least one part or system in 2009 was 80 percent, unchanged from the previous two years. The lowest overall vehicle failure rate was 72 percent in 2001, while the highest failure rate was 91 percent in 2002.

Bethesda, Md.-based Aftermarket Automotive Industry Associations more than 23,000 members and affiliates manufacture, distribute and sell motor vehicle parts, accessories, service, tool, equipment, materials and supplies.

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