With high gas prices, fewer drivers seeking repairs

MANATEE --Motorists strapped by high gas costs are postponing car maintenance or allowing their gas levels to drop so low their cars stall on the roadways.

"People are literally avoiding the 'check engine' light," said Joanna Newton, a spokeswoman with AAA Auto Club South. "You tend to put it off because you've got to buy gas."

The auto club recorded 22,000 "won't start" calls for the month of May 2007 and 25,520 for May 2008, an increase of 16 percent, Newton said. The club fields 2.2 million calls a year from motorists in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.

"It's not really that people are literally on the road running out of gas," Newton said. "We're seeing a trend of people putting off maintenance on their vehicle with increased calls on things like care of batteries, battery connections, sensors, starters, drive and timing belts."

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