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Mazda CX-3, $20,640

Mazda CX-3, $20,640

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Mazda CX-3

The CX-3’s athletically sleek appearance is more than haute couture. It is fun to drive, whether tackling a twisting road or a snow-covered cul-de-sac. The instrument panel looks as if it comes from a pricier car. Interior space is adequate up front but cramped in the rear. All-wheel drive costs an extra $1,400.

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If you leave your car dormant for an extended period of time, top off your vehicle’s fluids — such as brake fluid, engine coolant, power steering fluid (if applicable), transmission fluid, antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid. Also, consider changing the oil before you let your vehicle sit in storage for more than a couple of weeks. Take the car for a short drive, as this will help circulate the fluids, including the fuel stabilizer.

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Occasionally driving your vehicle around the block will help keep the battery charged and in good health. It will also prevent rust from building up on the rotors, which if left unchecked could cause irreversible damage and will also prevent the tires from flat spotting. Flat spotting is when the rubber degrades quicker in one spot due to compression, which will cause an incurable vibration.

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If your car will be sitting for a long period of time, the temperature may change and the tires can slowly lose pressure. For this reason, it’s a good idea to inflate your tires to the recommended air pressure, but do not exceed the maximum.

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Don’t forget the vehicle’s power source: the battery. The battery will eventually lose its charge if it isn’t driven at least every few weeks. If you prepare the car properly for storage, though, you do not need to run it to keep the battery charged.

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It’s not just about miles: If you don’t drive your car a lot, your oil still needs to be kept fresh. Even if you drive fewer miles each year than your automaker suggests changing the oil (say, 6,000 miles, with suggested oil-change intervals at 7,500 miles), you should still be getting that oil changed twice a year.

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If you will not be using your car for more than 30 days, it’s important to fill up your gas tank. This may help prevent moisture from building up in the tank.

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