BETHESDA, Md.-To help consumers better understand how their vehicles work-and what they need to do to keep them running-the Automotive Parts & Accessories Association has launched the APAA Car Care Club. Aimed at the automotive ``do-it-yourself*'' as well as the ``do-it-for-me'' markets, the club's first-year membership has been targeted at 60,000 by the association, which announced the program Oct. 31 at the combined Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week trade shows in Las Vegas.
In an APAA press release, the effort was referred to as ``one of the most ambitious consumer programs ever conceived by a trade association.''
The APAA kicked off the launch with a full-page advertisement in Popular Mechanics magazine. Distribution of direct mailings and point-of-purchase materials began last month in thousands of retail automotive outlets of major chains participating in the program, according to an association spokesman.
``The purpose behind the whole operation,'' he explained, ``is to educate consumers to the point where they can recognize that proper vehicle maintenance will save them money in the long run.''
In return for their $30-per-year dues, Car Care Club members will receive:
a bimonthly magazine, called Car Care, addressing repair and maintenance issues;
video training programs designed to assist in understanding the operation and repair of various vehicle components;
access to a technical hot line service for answers to questions about repair and maintenance procedures;
discount coupons from participating manufacturers; and
various other tips and programs on proper maintenance.
Brochures outlining the program, and membership applications, will be available at participating retail outlets.
Companies participating thus far include Pep Boys-Manny, Moe and Jack; Trak Auto; Chief Auto; Paccar Automotive; Sears, Roebuck and Co.; Hahn Automotive; Western Auto Supply Co.; WSR; Advance Auto; Nationwise; Discount Auto; Northern Automotive; Big Wheel/Rossi; and Kmart Corp.
The club concept was developed by the association's board chairman, Jim Wright of Western Auto, and Marc Graham of Paccar Automotive, the APAA said.
But Al Gaspar, APAA president, pointed out that the project is not the association's first program built on direct involvement with the automotive consumer.
In the early 1970s, he said, the APAA initiated a ``May is Car Care Month'' program, consisting of the distribution of articles on auto care and maintenance to major newspapers and magazines, and the sponsorship of free car maintenance clinics during May.
Mr. Gaspar said the APAA also produced, from 1979 through 1984, ``Car Care Central,'' an award-winning TV series designed to inform consumers about proper vehicle maintenance.