Autobytel, an Internet new car buying service, is encouraging drivers to make a New Year’s resolution to maintain and service their vehicles according to recommended factory standards. A recent Autobytel online survey indicated that only 28 percent of respondents perform the factory-specified services described in the owner’s manual, and 72 percent perform services later than scheduled or not at all. The company is also offering motorists online tips, advice and tools designed to help car owners understand the importance of regular maintenance and keep their resolution. The online guide is available at the "Own and Maintain" areas of autobytel.com, autoweb.com and carsmart.com. "This is a resolution that we hope can save money, stress, even lives," said Autobytel president and CEO Jeffrey Schwartz. "We have designed our online resources to help people achieve this goal." Schwartz noted that visitors to the websites can take advantage of a range of online service information resources, including part-by-part maintenance advice, basic principles for service novices, and a cost-free vehicle maintenance management system, My Garage, that enables registrants to track their service histories and receive automated email reminders of upcoming services. Autobytel’s service experts agree that the keys to successful, long-term vehicle maintenance are performing factory-specified services, and building a close, long-term relationship with a single trusted service professional. "Continuity of service is important," said Autobytel’s Michael Rose, a former BMW Certified Master Technician. "The three most important things a car owner should do are: keep his or her car or truck serviced as per recommended service intervals, find a technician and service center they can trustæand stick with them." According to the Autobytel survey, however, Rose’s consistent-service ideal is the exception rather than the rule. In fact, the majority (58 percent) of survey respondents indicated that they either take their vehicles to different garages for different repairs, or deal with different service representatives visit-to-visit. Nearly 10 percent said they are completely unaware of their recommended factory services schedule, and 28 percent had "no idea" or only a "vague idea" when they’re supposed to schedule their next service appointment. "The survey provides a snapshot of the typical American car owneræsomeone who, for whatever reason, fails to do the simple things they have to do to avoid unnecessary costs," adds Schwartz. "With new and low-mileage used vehicle sales at historic highs, now is the perfect time to encourage car owners to make a fresh start with regards to serviceæto establish good habits early in the lifecycle of the car." To this end, Autobytel’s service experts have compiled a list of "maintenance musts" for smart owners committed to protecting their investments in 2003, and beyond. 1) Always stick to factory service schedules. Today’s cars are more dependable, but they’re NOT maintenance-free. Take advantage of services like My Garage to manage your service history, and stay on top of upcoming scheduled services. 2) Build a relationship with a single service professional, someone who knows your vehicle inside and out. Make it a close, working relationship. Do your research before the service/repair. Ask questions. It’s a great way to learnæand remain firmly in control. 3) Change your oil regularly (at least every 3,000-5,000). Cars use up more oil the lower the oil level gets, making it all the more important to check regularly. 4) Check brakes often. If you have any doubt, it's probably time. 5) Check your lights often to make sure they’re working. A bulb could burn out and you wouldn't know. 6) Check your tire pressure and tread. An unevenly worn tread indicates an alignment or tire inflation problem. 7) Check your spark plugs. Irregularly working spark plugs use up more fuel and money. 8) Top off your fluids regularly. Your car relies on fluids to keep it in good running order. That means every fluid: brake, windshield, oil, transmission, coolant, etc. 9) Check your belts and hoses. They're easy to spot, and belts or hoses showing white or ragged edges could break at any time. Once you have them replaced, keep the old ones in your trunk. If you're in a spot and need to quickly replace them, you'll know exactly what to get. For more articles, tips and information regarding servicing your vehicle visit www.autobytel.com/content/own
. About Autobytel Inc.
Autobytel Inc., an Internet automotive marketing services company, says it helps retailers sell cars and manufacturers build brands through marketing and CRM (customer relationship management) programs. Autobytel Inc. owns and operates the websites Autobytel.com, Autoweb.com, Carsmart.com and AutoSite.com, as well as AIC (Automotive Information Center), a leading provider of automotive marketing data and technology.