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Drivers Keep Clunkers Longer, Risk Roadside Trouble

As New Year's week-end approaches and travelers rush to return home from holiday trips a breakdown on the road can be an expensive hassle. But, new figures from the Triple A indicate more drivers are risking roadside trouble. During the past four years, Ohio's chapter of the Triple-A says its recorded a steady increase in the average age of cars and light trucks needing emergency roadside help. Ohio Triple-A spokeswoman Kimberly Schwind says tow truck drivers find many of the disabled cars are eight or nine years old and they often need more than a battery charge or a tire change. "What we're really noticing in terms of roadside assistance is, when people do need a tow its more for major problems than it is quick fixes, and that's because people are ignoring the small fixes." Says Schwind Schwind adds people are holding on to their cars longer because of a struggling economy and she adds, many drivers also scrimp on minor repairs. "So, they don't want to spend a lot of money on repairs. If something is not unsafe then they're not going to fix it right away." When Triple-A tows a car from the berm. It usually takes it to a repair shop. Tim Dutton, owner of Village Auto Care in Clintonville, also sees evidence of more drivers keeping their cars longer. "Some of these cars should have been taken out back and put down a long time ago. People are shoveling all kinds of crazy money into them." Dutton says the cost of major repairs varies from a thousand dollars or more when engines or transmissions are involved. But,it's not just drivers and mechanics feeling the effects of driving older cars. Charities that depend on car donations are scrambling to replace income. At Volunteers of America on West Broad Street, Nicole Knowlton, reports a steep decline in car donations this year. "Well, for this year when we look at comparisons to last year we're looking at about a 38 percent decline in donations." Says Knowlton. "And, really we attribute that to the overall economy." Knowlton says Volunteers of America auctions used cars to generate needed operating funds. She adds, demand for used cars has also increased and that has lead some auto dealers to pay consumers cash for used cars, sight unseen. Associated Press contributed to this story