There are a least three major reasons for why you should upgrade to a more recent version, preferably to the current version.
As mentioned by @a_horse_with_no_name the autovacuum mechanism has been improved in many places since version 8.2.
You don't see frequent
DELETEs, so the table bloat most probably comes from
UPDATEs as @Milen commented. A new feature has been introduced with version 8.3, that counters this problem at its root: Heap-Only Tuples, I quote the release notes:
Heap-Only Tuples (HOT) accelerate space reuse for most
DELETEs (Pavan Deolasee, with ideas from many others)
DELETEs leave dead tuples behind, as do failed
VACUUM could reclaim space taken by dead tuples. With
HOT dead tuple space can be automatically reclaimed at the time of
UPDATE if no changes are made to indexed columns. This
allows for more consistent performance. Also, HOT avoids adding
duplicate index entries.
PostgreSQL 8.2 has reached end of life in Dec. 2011. No more security updates. Upgrade to a more recent version as soon as possible.
To find out whether there are, in fact, a lot of
UPDATEs launched, use the configuration parameter
log_statement and check your database log. Maybe a misconfigured app or a trigger launches a lot more
UPDATEs than you think?
SET the parameter in a session it only changes for this session:
SET log_statement = 'all';
So, rather change it in your
log_statement = all
and reload. For instance with
pg_ctl reload. But don't forget to change it back (and reload) or your log files may grow huge. Then check the log files to see what's actually going on.