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Consumer
Change your driving habits to avoid costly repairs
MADISON, Wis. (10/13/10)--It’s not just your imagination: U.S. thoroughfares are bad and getting worse. According to recent analysis of Federal Highway Administration data, the average annual cost of wear and tear on your car due to rough city streets and highways is $400 a year (TRIP Sept. 22). TRIP’s report shows that San Jose, Honolulu and Los Angeles top the list of U.S. cities with more than 60% of road pavement in poor condition. As a result, drivers in those areas can expect to pay extra annual operating costs of more than $700 a car. As if that news weren’t bad enough, the prospects for short-term improvement appear dismal. The Department of Transportation estimates that planned expenditures for the next 15 years are $189 billion short of what’s needed to keep streets and roads in their current condition. Making improvements will require an additional $375 billion. While you wait for Congress and taxpayers to address those needs, here are some things you can do to minimize year-round pothole damage to your car, courtesy of the Credit Union National Association’s Center for Personal Finance:
* Keep your car in shape. Resist the impulse to underinflate your tires, thinking they’ll smooth your ride. Tires with less than proper pressure wear out faster and may cause expensive wheel damage. Letting your car’s shocks and struts go soft can be dangerous, too; a sloppy suspension reduces your car’s traction and braking ability. * Slow down. Because force equals mass times velocity, doubling your speed doubles the amount of impact your tires and suspension must absorb. Driving slower also gives you more time to take evasive maneuvers if necessary. * Try alternatives. Don’t let force of habit blind you to choices that will prolong the life of your car. Reroute your daily commute to avoid particularly bad stretches of road. Carpool and split the cumulative wear and tear with a co-worker. Better yet, cut down on short trips and use a bicycle or public transportation when convenient.
For more information, read “Keep Your Old Car Running” in Home & Family Finance Resource Center.
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