Things like tumeups, oil changes and checking tire pressures are important.

One facet of preventive maintenance that a lot of people don't consider, however, is driving. How you drive your car, and even how you treat it when it's parked, can have a direct effect on how it wears and how often you have to get it fixed.

Here are some tips that can help avoid unnecessary expenses:

Don't ride your brake pedal. Some people get in the habit of resting one foot on the brake pedal. If your brakes are applied, even lightly, for long periods (as if your foot is frequently resting on the brake pedal), brake peds and linings wear faster. You'll have to to replace brakes more often. Use the brakes only when you must stop or reduce speed.

Don't apply brakes abruptly, except in an emergency. Waiting till the last possible moment, and then jamming on the brakes for a quick stop, will also reduce brake-pad and lining life. Stops should be smooth and gentle.

If you have a manual-shift vehicle, don't ride the clutch - it can wear out a throwout bearing before its time, and may add to wear of other parts in the clutch area.

When you start the motor after your car has sat overnight, don't take off immediately, especially if it's cold outside. Let it idle a minute or so. Oil, which provides vital Inbrication to moving parts, tends to drain off cylinder walls and other important areas when an engine sits unused for several hours. Letting the engine warm up before putting a load on its lets the engine do its job of moving the car without causing excessive friction between moving parts before they've had a chance to be adequately lubricated.

On the other hand, don't let the engine idle for long periods - as when you go into a store, for example. Regular periods of extended idle can lead to excessive carbon buildup in the engine, reduce spark-plug life, overheat the engine and cause other problems.

Don't race an engine immediately on startup, especially when it's cold. If this is a regular part of your startup procedure, it can contribute to excessive wear of moving metal compoenents inside the engine.

Don't take corners too fast. If you habitually corner hard, and the tires often squeal, you're going to wear your tires out faster. Tires are expensive.

Drive smoothly (no drag-racing starts, no jerky stops). Smooth, gentle takeoffs and easy stops cut tire wear, are less harsh on engine and driveline components and help improve gas mileage. Smooth, steady acceleration both on takeoff and when passing, when practiced regularly, will save gas.

Don't ignore strange noises, unusual handling or engine problems; find out what's causing them. Letting problems run on can result in your spending more money in the end than if you'd solved the problem when it first appeared.

When parking, try to avoid parking spaces that can lead to dents and scratches. A good example is a supermarket parking lot, with stray shopping carts that can produce ugly and expensive denis. In a parking lot like this, try to park in an area where shopping carts aren't gathered, or uphill from where carts are likely to be left.

If possible, garage your car when you park it. Sun tends to fade paint over the years, and it doesn't hurt to keep your car out of the snow, rain and whatever else the weatherman may send along when it doesn't need to be outside.