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6 New Year's Auto Resolutions

As the calendar rolls over to 2015, many of us will strive to make and keep New Year's resolutions to be healthier, wealthier and wiser. And maybe a few pounds lighter.

Likewise, we should all pledge to take better care of our cars in the months ahead and correct maintenance mistakes that can ultimately result in the need for inconvenient and expensive repairs.

"With the average age of vehicles at a record high, nearly 12 years, it's especially important to stay on top of routine maintenance," says Dean Pisciotta, president of Brakes Plus, the family-owned and operated car maintenance and repair chain based in Colorado Springs. "You want to be safe, for sure. But you also want to avoid a costly, inconvenient breakdown or repair."

Nearly half of consumers say they spend $500 or more on auto repairs a year - with one in six spending more than $1,000, according to AutoMD.com, Carson, Calif.

The car-care experts at AutoMD.com have compiled a short list of bad habits prudent motorists should resolve to correct during 2015 to keep their precious rides running smoothly:

1. Don't neglect fluids. Changing the engine oil and oil filter according to the manufacturer's recommendations is the easiest way to help maximize your car's longevity. Regularly check the levels of oil, engine coolant and transmission, power steering and brake fluids, topping off any as necessary. If any of these levels are chronically low, have the car checked out by a technician.

2. Check belts and hoses. Inspect all under-hood belts regularly for excessive wear or cracks, and have them replaced if necessary or - as in the case of an engine's timing belt - as recommended by the automaker. If a belt breaks or a hose bursts, the vehicle will usually become incapacitated and the situation could warrant major engine repairs.

3. Take time for tires. Check the air pressure in a car's tires frequently using a good quality gauge. Keep pressure at the proper level specified in the owner's manual. Driving with under-inflated tires could adversely affect a vehicle's handling, cause accelerated tread wear and lead to significant damage from pot holes and other hazards. Keeping a vehicle's tires properly inflated can boost a car's mileage by an average 3.3 percent. Have the tires rotated with every other oil change.

4. Don't drive on "empty." Today's fuel-injected cars have their fuel pumps mounted inside the gas tank and use the fuel to cool and lubricate its components. "Running on fumes" frequently could cause the pump to fail, perhaps stranding a motorist and certainly costing several hundred dollars to repair.

5. Heed dashboard lights. They're trying to tell you something. If they stay lit after starting the engine, the news isn't usually good. Illuminated oil, brake or temperature lights often indicate serious problems that should be addressed immediately. While a car will usually keep on running with the "check engine" staying lit, this indicates an underlying problem that could snowball to become a more serious issue down the road if not corrected.

6. Pay attention to sounds. If your car is squealing, grinding, clicking or knocking, don't just keep on driving thinking it will go away. Have all unusual noises or thumps checked out by a technician. Some might indicate simple problems like worn wheel bearings or suspension components that could become serious safety issues if not addressed due course.

Wherever you travel this holiday season, Brakes Plus, with 67 locations in Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, Texas, Nebraska and Iowa, stands ready to provide you with great car service. Family owned and operated, Brakes Plus provides free estimates before starting any work, and strives to provide every customer with a positive experience.

This article was produced for and sponsored by BRAKES PLUS. It is not a product of or affiliated with KOAA News 5.

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