Archive for the ‘Auto’ Category

AAA Spills the Truth on Oil Changes

June 6th, 2017 by AAA

ErinStepp

Synthetic oil performs nearly 50 percent better than conventional oil in AAA’s tests

ORLANDO, Fla. (June 6, 2017) – Making an informed choice about oil changes just got easier, thanks to new research on the quality of engine oil. AAA found that synthetic oil outperformed conventional oil by an average of nearly 50 percent in its independent evaluation, offering vehicles significantly better engine protection for only $5 more per month when following a factory-recommended oil change schedule. To protect vehicle engines, particularly those that operate in extreme conditions, AAA urges drivers to consider a switch to synthetic oil at their next oil change service.

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 “Oil protects critical engine components from damage and AAA found that synthetic engine oils performed an average of 47 percent better than conventional oils in a variety of industry-standard tests,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “With its superior resistance to deterioration, AAA’s findings indicate that synthetic oil is particularly beneficial to newer vehicles with turbo-charged engines and for vehicles that frequently drive in stop-and-go traffic, tow heavy loads or operate in extreme hot or cold conditions.”

While only a limited number of vehicles specifically require synthetic oil, all vehicles can benefit from using synthetic oil. At an oil change service, many drivers are offered a choice between conventional or synthetic oil. However, in a companion AAA nationwide survey of U.S. drivers, 44 percent are either unsure (27 percent) or do not believe (17 percent) that the more expensive synthetic oil is better for a vehicle’s engine. Reasons cited for regularly choosing the cheaper, conventional oil include feeling that synthetic oil is too expensive, offers no benefit, that the upgrade to synthetic oil is an unnecessary up-sell by a repair facility, or they are simply not offered the choice.

Switching from a conventional oil to a synthetic oil will cost the average driver $64 more per year, or an extra $5.33 per month. A survey of AAA’s Approved Auto Repair facilities reveals that the average cost of a conventional oil change is $38, while a synthetic oil change is $70. For those that change their vehicle’s oil themselves, the average cost of 5 quarts of conventional oil is approximately $28, while synthetic oil is $45. AAA’s survey also shows that vast majority (83 percent) of service professionals select synthetic oil for their personal vehicles.

“It’s understandable that drivers may be skeptical of any service that is nearly twice the cost of the alternative,” continued Nielsen. “While a manufacturer-approved conventional oil will not harm a vehicle’s engine, the extra $30 per oil change could actually save money in the long run by protecting critical engine components over time.”

The hesitation to select a synthetic oil may stem from American distrust in repair facilities. Another recent AAA survey found that two-thirds of U.S. drivers do not trust repair facilities, with most citing concern over the recommendation of unnecessary services. Those looking for a trusted repair facility are urged to consider one that meets AAA’s high standards, including, technician certifications, ongoing training, financial stability, facility cleanliness, insurance requirements, rigorous inspections and customer satisfaction through the AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) program. To locate a shop in your area, visit AAA.com/AutoRepair.

AAA’s engine oil research focused on eight industry-standard ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) tests to evaluate the quality of both synthetic and conventional engine oils in terms of shear stability, deposit formation, volatility, cold-temperature pumpability, oxidation resistance and oxidation-induced rheological changes. At the time of testing, all tested oils were licensed by the American Petroleum Institute and advertised to meet the International Lubricants Standardization and Approval Committee’s GF-5 specifications. When selecting an oil, it is critical to reference the vehicle’s owner’s manual to ensure that the oil meets the exact specifications for that particular engine.

AAA’s full research report, fact sheet and additional supporting materials can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Mariam Ali Contact TileAmerican drivers are unprepared for emergency breakdown situations

ORLANDO, Fla. (May 11, 2017) – This summer, AAA expects to rescue 7 million American drivers, with the majority facing battery, lock and tire-related issues. This number could soar higher, with a AAA survey revealing that 4 out of 10 American drivers are unprepared for emergency breakdown situations. With three-quarters of family travelers planning to travel by car to their favorite vacation spot, AAA reminds drivers to take the necessary precautions to ensure they are well prepared for a safe road trip.  

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“Summer heat takes a toll on vehicles, causing overheating engines, tire blowouts and dead batteries,” said Cliff Ruud, AAA’s managing director of AAA Automotive. “Having a disabled vehicle is a stressful and dangerous situation, which is why AAA urges drivers to stock an emergency kit, have their battery tested and inspect tires to make certain their cars are in road-ready condition.”

Unfortunately, AAA has found that many drivers are unprepared for roadside emergencies. Survey data shows that two-thirds of American drivers have never proactively had their car battery tested, 1 in 5 do not know how to change a tire and 4 in 10 do not carry an emergency kit in their vehicle.

Other findings from AAA’s 2017 roadside assistance data show:

  • Dead batteries, flat tires and vehicle lockouts are top reasons that members call AAA during the summer.
  • While more than half of members’ problems are resolved at the roadside by AAA, more than 3 million drivers will experience significant vehicle issues this summer that require a tow to a repair facility.
  • With low-profile tires and the elimination of spare tires, many newer vehicles are especially susceptible to roadside trouble.

“Roadside breakdowns continue to rise each year and can be a safety hazard for everyone on the road,” continued Ruud. “AAA is ready to help when vehicle troubles leave you stranded, however, travelers can minimize their risk by planning ahead and preparing properly.”

AAA offers the following tips to help avoid common roadside problems:

  • Schedule a checkup. Take your vehicle to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing the chances of a breakdown. AAA’s Mobile Battery Service offers free battery testing for AAA members.
  • Pack an emergency kit. Every vehicle should be equipped with a well-stocked emergency kit that includes a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit with tire pressure gauge and adjustable wrench, windshield washer solution, jumper cables and emergency flares or reflectors, drinking water, extra snacks and food for travelers and pets.
  • Prevent lockouts. Always take keys when exiting the car and bring a spare car key on every trip. Avoid exposing keyless-entry remote or smart keys to water and always replace the key or fob battery when recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

Additionally, AAA reminds drivers to take the following safety precautions on the road:

  • Drive distraction-free. Do not text or engage in distracting activities while driving, including interacting with a cell phone, talking with passengers or looking at other objects in the vehicle.
  • Comply with the Move Over Law. Observe the Move Over Law when law enforcement or emergency vehicles are on the side of the road. Change lanes or slow down to give sufficient clearance. This is the law in all 50 states.
  • Pull out of the traffic lanes if your car breaks down. If faced with a vehicle emergency, safely steer your car off the roadway. Turn on the emergency flashers to alert other drivers and exit the vehicle on the side facing away from traffic if possible. Once everyone is in a safe location, request assistance from a road service provider.

Before hitting the road, AAA recommends that drivers download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad, Android and Apple Watch. Travelers can use the app to request AAA roadside assistance, route a trip, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, book a hotel, and more. AAA members can also track the location of their assigned service vehicle in real time with Service Tracker. Learn more at AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides 57 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.

Consumer Appetite for Electric Vehicles Rivals Pickups

April 18th, 2017 by Jessica Souto

ErinSteppAAA unveils top electric, hybrid and fuel-efficient vehicles

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 18, 2017) – Despite lower gas prices, a new AAA study reveals that consumer interest in electric vehicles remains high, with the survey showing that more than 30 million Americans are likely to buy an electric vehicle for their next car. With rising sales, longer ranges and lower costs, AAA predicts a strong future for electric vehicles, and announces the top electric, hybrid and other efficient vehicles in its independent, rigorous test-track evaluation.

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“With their lower ownership costs and compatibility with emerging autonomous technologies, electric vehicles are poised to be a key vehicle of the future,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering. “Tesla — a standout in AAA’s evaluations — has helped widen the appeal of electric vehicles by showing they can be stylish, performance-focused and filled with cutting-edge technology.”

Despite the fact that gas prices are about 40 percent lower than five years ago, AAA found that consumer interest in electric vehicles and hybrids has not waned. In fact, the number of Americans interested in an electric vehicle approaches the number planning to purchase a pickup truck, with the survey showing that 15 percent are likely to buy an electric vehicle for their next car. Millennials are even more accepting of electric vehicles, with nearly one-in-five interested in going electric for their next car.

Concern for the environment remains the primary motivating factor for electric vehicle shoppers, but AAA also found that lower long-term costs, desire for the latest technology and access to car pool lanes are all influential. With their extended range and flexibility, hybrid vehicles are also desirable to Americans, with nearly one third (32 percent) likely to buy the gasoline- and battery-powered alternative.

Beyond electric and hybrid vehicles, AAA’s survey found that fuel economy remains a major purchase consideration for all U.S. drivers, with 70 percent rating it as an important factor in selecting any vehicle – equal to the importance of the cost, crash rating and performance – ahead of safety technology (50%), brand (48%), style, color and design (46%) and smartphone connectivity (34%).

With a focus on the future, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center rates and ranks electric vehicles, hybrids, compressed natural gas-powered (CNG), diesels and high fuel economy gasoline-powered vehicles for the annual AAA Green Car Guide.  Vehicles are rated on the criteria that matter most to car buyers, including ride quality, safety and performance.

“While desire for green vehicles is strong, making the leap to an electric, hybrid or other fuel efficient vehicles can be daunting to car shoppers,” said Megan McKernan, manager of Automotive Research Center. “AAA’s rigorous evaluations help take the guesswork out by providing an unbiased evaluation of these vehicles based on more than a dozen individual criteria.”  

In 2017, the following vehicles earned AAA’s Top Green Vehicle award:

Category Winner
Overall Tesla Model X 75D
Subcompact Car Chevy Bolt EV Premier
Compact Car Volkswagen e-Golf SE
Midsize Car Lexus GS 450h F Sport
Large Car Tesla Model S 60
Pickup Ford F150 XLT Super Crew
SUV Tesla Model X 75D

Winners, detailed evaluation criteria, vehicle reviews and an in-depth analysis of the green vehicle industry can be found at AAA.com/greencar.

While electric vehicles are an attractive option for car shoppers, AAA found that more than half of Americans are hesitant to make the switch due to “range anxiety” – the concern over running out of charge or having too few locations to charge a vehicle. This fear persists despite the fact that U.S. drivers report an average round-trip commute length (31 miles) and time (46 minutes) that are well within the range of the more than 100 miles of range that most electric vehicles offer.

“Range anxiety stems from seeing gas stations, not charging stations, on every corner,” continued Brannon. “While electric vehicles may not yet fit every lifestyle, the number of charging stations has quadrupled over the last five years and battery ranges support average commutes.”

To assist with range anxiety, drivers of electric vehicles can find the closest charging station via the AAA Mobile app or AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner. In 2017, charging station availability has grown to more than 15,000 locations across the United States.

Additional survey data, study methodology, infographics, photos and video can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Mariam Ali Contact TileAAA advises drivers to save $50 per month for car care fund

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 4, 2017) – According to a new AAA survey, 64 million American drivers would not be able to pay for an unexpected vehicle repair without going into debt, indicating that some drivers may underestimate the full cost of owning and operating a vehicle. Because some car repairs are unavoidable, and the average repair bill is between $500 and $600, AAA urges drivers to save at least $50 a month for unforeseen expenses, and identify a trusted repair facility before trouble strikes.

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“The average cost of owning and operating a vehicle is more than $8,500 a year, and AAA has found that millions of Americans are failing to set aside a car care fund to pay for the upkeep of their cars,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “To avoid a surprise down the road, drivers should budget for monthly payments, insurance premiums, fuel costs and the inevitable expenses of routine maintenance and repair.”

Although an average repair bill can set a driver back up to $600, the cost can soar higher when a vehicle has been poorly maintained. A previous AAA survey found that one-third of U.S. drivers skip or delay recommended service or repairs, which increases the likelihood of unexpected mechanical failures and leaves a vehicle more vulnerable to roadside breakdown. In 2016 alone, AAA responded to nearly 32 million stranded motorists.

“Anticipating your vehicle’s needs before problems strike is important,” continued Nielsen. “While it may seem that skipping maintenance and repairs can save money in the short term, staying on top of car care can save drivers hundreds of dollars in the long run.”  

Before a breakdown happens, AAA recommends that vehicle owners:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule to avoid roadside trouble.
  • Identify a repair shop you trust. A recent AAA survey found that one-third of U.S. drivers have yet to find a trusted repair facility. Visit com/autorepair to locate a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility near you.

If faced with an unexpected repair, AAA suggests that drivers:

  • Get a written estimate for the repair and clarify with the shop the work that needs to be done on the vehicle Consider getting a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Negotiate the repair bill with the mechanic. Ask if the shop offers any discounts or payment plans that can reduce immediate out-of-pocket costs.

The AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) network consists of nearly 7,000 facilities that have met AAA’s high standards, including, technician certifications, ongoing training, financial stability, facility cleanliness, insurance requirements, rigorous inspections and customer satisfaction. AAA members are eligible for special benefits at AAR facilities, including priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts, free maintenance inspections, dispute resolution assistance and more. To locate an AAR shop in your area, visit AAA.com/autorepair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ErinSteppNew AAA survey reveals that Americans still leery of a driverless future

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 7, 2017) – A new report from AAA reveals that the majority of U.S. drivers seek autonomous technologies in their next vehicle, but they continue to fear the fully self-driving car. Despite the prospect that autonomous vehicles will be safer, more efficient and more convenient than their human-driven counterparts, three-quarters of U.S. drivers report feeling afraid to ride in a self-driving car, and only 10 percent report that they’d actually feel safer sharing the roads with driverless vehicles. As automakers press forward in the development of autonomous vehicles, AAA urges the gradual, safe introduction of these technologies to ensure that American drivers are informed, prepared and comfortable with this shift in mobility.

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“A great race towards autonomy is underway and companies are vying to introduce the first driverless cars to our roadways,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “However, while U.S. drivers are eager to buy vehicles equipped with autonomous technology, they continue to fear a fully self-driving vehicle.”

In 2016, a AAA survey found that three-quarters of Americans reported feeling afraid to ride in a self-driving car. One year later, a new AAA survey found that fear is unchanged. While the majority are afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, the latest survey also found that the majority (59%) of Americans are keen to have autonomous features in their next vehicle. This marked contrast suggests that American drivers are ready embrace autonomous technology, but they are not yet ready to give up full control.

“U.S. drivers may experience the driver assistance technologies in their cars today and feel they don’t work consistently enough to replace a human driver – and they’re correct,” continued Brannon. “While these technologies will continue to improve over time, it’s important that consumers understand that today’s systems require your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.”

Additional survey findings include:

  • Half (54%) of U.S. drivers feel less safe at the prospect of sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle, while one-third (34%) feel it wouldn’t make a difference and only 10 percent say they would feel safer.
    • Women (58%) are more likely to feel less safe than men (49%).
    • Baby Boomers (60%) are more likely to feel less safe than Generation X (56%) or Millennials (41%)
  • The majority (59%) of U.S. drivers want autonomous vehicle technology in their next vehicle, while the remainder do not (25%) or are unsure (16%).
    • Millennials (70%) are the most likely to want the technologies, compared to Generation X (54%) and Baby Boomers (51%).
  • Three-quarters (78%) of Americans are afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle.
    • Baby Boomers (85%) are more likely to be afraid than Millennials (73%) and Generation X (75%) drivers.
    • Women (85%) are more likely to be afraid than men (69%).

To educate consumers on the effectiveness of emerging vehicle technologies, AAA is committed to the on-going, unbiased testing of automated vehicle technologies. Previous testing of automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, self-parking technology and lane keeping systems has shown both great promise and great variation. This variation may be particularly concerning to consumers, with AAA’s survey revealing that 81 percent of Americans feel that automated vehicle systems should all work similarly and consistently across all vehicle manufacturers. Future AAA testing will look at how well systems work together to achieve higher levels of automation.

“Every year, we lose approximately 35,000 people on America’s roadways, most as a result of human error,” said Jill Ingrassia, AAA’s managing director of Government Relations and Traffic Safety. “Connected and automated vehicle technologies have the potential to dramatically reduce this number, and automakers, government agencies and safety organizations like AAA must continue working together to ensure that these new vehicles are safely tested and deployed.”

For additional information about the survey, including a fact sheet and infographics, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Ellen Edmonds Contact TileSeventy percent of U.S. drivers at risk for costly, dangerous rust damage

ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 21, 2017) – As the end of winter approaches, millions of Americans will face pricey vehicle repairs from rust damage caused by chemicals used to de-ice roadways. According to a new AAA survey, U.S. drivers paid an estimated $15.4 billion in rust repairs caused by de-icing methods over the last five years, or approximately $3 billion annually. AAA warns drivers, especially the 70 percent (150 million) who live in areas affected by snow and ice, to take action to prevent dangerous rust-related vehicle damage to brake lines, fuel tanks, exhaust systems and other critical vehicle components.

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“While the application of de-icing salts and solutions is critical to keeping our nation’s roadways safe every winter, it’s important that drivers pay attention to warning signs that their vehicle may be suffering from rust-related damage,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “This can be much more than a cosmetic issue, it can also create serious safety issues for drivers by impacting brake lines, exhaust systems, fuel tanks and electrical connections.”

AAA strongly urges drivers who experience any of the following vehicle malfunctions to immediately move the vehicle off the road to a safe location and have it towed to a trusted repair facility.

  • In-dash warning lights for brakes and other critical systems.
  • A “spongey” or soft feeling when applying pressure to the brake pedal.
  • An unusually loud exhaust sound or the smell of fumes in or around the vehicle.
  • The prominent smell of gasoline or diesel fuel when the vehicle is parked or running.

In recent years, many state and local transportation departments have shifted from using rock salt to liquid de-icers to combat ice and snow on the roadways. These newer alternatives are more effective than traditional salt because they can be applied before a snowstorm, have a lower freezing point and melt ice and snow faster. However, these same characteristics can be even more damaging to vehicles since the chemicals remain in liquid form longer and are more likely to coat components and seep into cracks and crevices where corrosion can accelerate.

“In the last five years, 22 million U.S. drivers have experienced rust damage to their cars due to salt and liquid de-icers,” continued Nielsen. “In addition to the safety risk, repairs to fix these problems are often costly, averaging almost $500 per occurrence.”

While some rust damage is unavoidable, AAA recommends drivers take the following preventative steps in order to reduce the possibility of vehicle damage:

  • When possible, limit driving immediately before, during and after winter storms when salt and de-icing solutions are being applied and are at their highest concentrations.
  • Frequently wash your vehicle, paying particular attention to the undercarriage. This will loosen, dissolve and neutralize road salts. Many drive-through car washes offer an undercarriage rinse as an option.
  • Always use a high-quality car wash solution, not a household dish detergent that will strip the wax from your vehicle.
  • Repair any body damage and touch up paint scratches and chips that expose bare metal which could lead to rust.
  • Before the start of winter, thoroughly wash and clean your vehicle prior to the start of winter and apply a coat of wax to protect the finish.
  • Give the entire vehicle and undercarriage one last cleaning in the spring. Any deposits left over from winter can continue to cause corrosion year-round if not properly removed.

Pothole damage is another concern for drivers, as snow and ice melt and roadways begin to crumble. A new AAA survey found that nearly 30 million U.S. drivers experienced pothole damage significant enough to require repair in 2016, with repair bills ranging from under $250 to more than $1000. To address this issue, AAA believes that more funding is needed to keep pace with critical repairs and ongoing maintenance of the nation’s roadways.

When pothole or rust damage occurs, it is imperative to choose a reputable repair facility. The AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) network includes nearly 7,000 facilities which have met AAA’s high standards, including, certifications, technical training, cleanliness, insurance requirements, rigorous inspections and customer satisfaction. AAA members are eligible for special benefits such as priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts, free inspections, dispute resolution assistance and more. To locate an AAR shop in your area, visit AAA.com/AutoRepair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Most U.S. Drivers Leery of Auto Repair Shops

December 1st, 2016 by Jessica Souto

Mariam Ali Contact TileAAA advises that finding a trusted mechanic is more important than ever

ORLANDO, Fla. (December 1, 2016) – According to a new AAA survey, two out of three U.S. drivers do not trust auto repair shops in general – citing overcharges, recommendations for unnecessary services and poor past experiences for their lack of confidence. However, the survey also reveals that the majority (64 percent) of U.S. drivers have singled out an auto repair shop that they do trust, suggesting that consumers have prioritized finding a reliable mechanic in an industry with imperfect reputation. AAA urges all drivers to identify a reputable repair facility well before one is needed.

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“To minimize the stress associated with vehicle repair and maintenance, it is critical that drivers find an honest repair shop that they can trust with their vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “AAA found that one-third of U.S. drivers – 75 million motorists in total – have yet to find a trusted repair facility, leaving them vulnerable when trouble strikes.”

With today’s cars collecting a variety of data about the health of the vehicle, drivers need a trusted repair facility more than ever. “Connected cars” with built-in diagnostic capabilities can alert drivers to vehicle trouble and help repair shops quickly and accurately address issues. Unsurprisingly, given concerns around data security, AAA found that the majority of U.S. drivers want the ability to direct their vehicle’s data to the repair shop of their choice – the trusted facility with whom they have built a relationship.

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • The top reasons that U.S. drivers do not trust repair shops are:
    • Recommending unnecessary services (76 percent)
    • Overcharging for services (73 percent)
    • Negative past experiences (63 percent)
    • Concerns that the work will not be done correctly (49 percent)
  • Older drivers are more likely to trust auto repair shops than younger drivers.
    • Baby Boomers are twice as likely than younger generations to fully trust auto repair facilities in general, with one-in-five reporting they “totally trust” the industry.
    • Baby Boomers (76 percent) are also more likely to have a chosen auto repair shop that they trust compared to Millennials (55 percent) and Gen-Xers (56 percent).

“As a service to our members and the general public, the AAA Approved Auto Repair program is designed to help drivers identify trustworthy repair shops,” Nielsen continued. “Facilities meet AAA standards by undergoing a rigorous investigation conducted by Automotive Service Excellence certified inspectors, including quarterly inspections and annual re-certifications that ensures high professional standards for technical training, equipment, cleanliness and customer service. Plus, if something does go wrong, AAA steps in to arbitrate any issues on behalf of its members.”

To find a trustworthy auto repair shop, AAA suggests that drivers:

  • Look for a repair shop before issues occur. Ask family and friends for recommendations and visit AAA.com/autorepair to locate an AAA Approved Auto Repair facility near you.
  • Research potential repair shops and find out how long they have been in business. This can be a good indicator of shop quality. Also, look into how they deal with consumer complaints. The Better Business Bureau, State Department of Consumer Affairs or attorney general’s office can provide those complaints.
  • Visit the auto repair shop for a minor job such as an oil change or tire rotation. While waiting, talk with shop employees and inspect the shop’s appearance, amenities, technician credentials, and parts and labor warranty. If you find the service to be good, stick with them. Build a relationship with the technician so they can get to know you and your vehicle.

AAA’s Approved Auto Repair (AAR) program was created more than 35 years ago and includes nearly 7,000 facilities across North America. Once a shop meets AAA’s high standards, including certifications, technical training, cleanliness, insurance requirements, it becomes part of the AAR program where it’s re-inspected annually and monitored for customer satisfaction. AAA members receive several unique benefits by selecting an AAR facility, including priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts on repairs, free inspections, AAA assistance with dispute resolutions and more.

For additional information about the survey, including a fact sheet and infographics, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

U.S. Drivers Waste $2.1 Billion Annually on Premium Gasoline

September 20th, 2016 by Jessica Souto

ErinSteppAAA testing shows no benefit to splurging on premium fuel when not required by the manufacturer

ORLANDO, Fla. (September 20, 2016) – According to new AAA research, American drivers wasted more than $2.1 billion dollars in the last year by using premium-grade gasoline in vehicles designed to run on regular fuel. With 16.5 million U.S. drivers having used premium fuel despite the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation in the last 12 months, AAA conducted a comprehensive fuel evaluation to determine what, if any, benefit the practice offers to consumers. After using industry-standard test protocols designed to evaluate vehicle performance, fuel economy and emissions, AAA found no benefit to using premium gasoline in a vehicle that only requires regular-grade fuel.

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“Drivers see the ‘premium’ name at the pump and may assume the fuel is better for their vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “AAA cautions drivers that premium gasoline is higher octane, not higher quality, and urges drivers to follow the owner’s manual recommendations for their vehicle’s fuel.”

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA tested 87-octane (regular) and 93-octane (premium) gasoline in vehicles equipped with a V-8, V-6 or I4 engine designed to operate on regular-grade fuel. To evaluate the effects of using a higher-octane fuel when it’s not required by the manufacturer, each vehicle was tested on a dynamometer, which is essentially a treadmill for cars that is designed to measure horsepower, fuel economy and tailpipe emissions when using both fuel types and variety of driving conditions. The laboratory testing found no significant increases in any tested category, indicating the practice of using premium gasoline when it’s not required for the vehicle offers no advantage.

“AAA’s tests reveal that there is no benefit to using premium gasoline in a vehicle that requires regular fuel,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. “Premium gasoline is specifically formulated to be compatible with specific types of engine designs and most vehicles cannot take advantage of the higher octane rating.”

To understand the magnitude of the issue, AAA surveyed U.S. drivers to understand what type of fuel their vehicles require and the frequency at which they upgrade to premium fuel. Results reveal:

  • Seventy percent of U.S. drivers currently own a vehicle that requires regular gasoline, while 16 percent drive vehicles that require premium fuel. The remaining 14 percent own a vehicle that requires mid-grade gasoline (10 percent) or uses an alternative energy source (4 percent).
  • In the last 12 months, 16.5 million U.S. drivers unnecessarily used premium-grade gasoline in their vehicle at least once. On average, those that upgraded to premium gasoline did so at least once per month.
  • In the last 12 months, U.S. drivers unnecessarily used premium gasoline in their vehicle more than 270 million times.

“When it comes to gasoline, ‘premium’ does not mean ‘better’ if your vehicle doesn’t require it,” continued Nielsen. “Drivers looking to upgrade to a higher quality fuel for their vehicle should save their money and select a TOP TIER™ gasoline, not a higher-octane one.”

Previous AAA research found that fuel quality varies significantly among gasoline retailers and that using a gasoline that meets TOP TIER standards can result in 19 times fewer engine deposits, increase vehicle performance and improve fuel economy. To protect vehicle investments, AAA urges drivers to use the appropriate gasoline as determined by their car’s manufacturer (regular or premium) that meets TOP TIER standards for engine cleanliness and performance.

To calculate the total annual cost of using premium gasoline when not required by the vehicle manufacturer, AAA conducted a comprehensive analysis that included a U.S. consumer survey, Federal Highway Administration data, per-gallon costs of premium gasoline and regular gasoline and the average number of fill-ups annually. All testing was conducted at the Automotive Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center in Los Angeles, California, using an industry-standard chassis dynamometer, emissions test equipment and Environmental Protection Agency driving cycles. All gasoline used for testing was EPA Tier III certification fuel with ten percent ethanol content in both regular and premium grades. Certified test fuel was used to remove variability in fuel quality and additives. For this study, AAA did not evaluate the effects of using regular fuel in an engine that requires premium gasoline.

For additional information about premium fuel, including the full test report and fact sheet, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ErinSteppAAA Tests Reveal Automatic Emergency Braking Systems Vary Significantly

ORLANDO, Fla (August 24, 2016) – New test results from AAA reveal that automatic emergency braking systems — the safety technology that will soon be standard equipment on 99 percent of vehicles — vary widely in design and performance. All the systems tested by AAA are designed to apply the brakes when a driver fails to engage, however, those that are designed to prevent crashes reduced vehicle speeds by nearly twice that of those designed to lessen crash severity. While any reduction in speed offers a significant safety benefit to drivers, AAA warns that automatic braking systems are not all designed to prevent collisions and urges consumers to fully understand system limitations before getting behind the wheel.

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“AAA found that two-thirds of Americans familiar with the technology believe that automatic emergency braking systems are designed to avoid crashes without driver intervention,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “The reality is that today’s systems vary greatly in performance, and many are not designed to stop a moving car.”

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA evaluated five 2016 model-year vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking systems for performance within system limitations and in real-world driving scenarios that were designed to push the technology’s limits. Systems were tested and compared based on the capabilities and limitations stated in the owner’s manuals and grouped into two categories — those designed to slow or stop the vehicle enough to prevent crashes, and those designed to slow the vehicle to lessen crash severity. After more than 70 trials, tests reveal:

  • In terms of overall speed reduction, the systems designed to prevent crashes reduced vehicle speeds by twice that of systems that are designed to only lessen crash severity (79 percent speed reduction vs. 40 percent speed reduction).
  • With speed differentials of under 30 mph, systems designed to prevent crashes successfully avoided collisions in 60 percent of test scenarios.
    • Surprisingly, the systems designed to only lessen crash severity were able to completely avoid crashes in nearly one-third (33 percent) of test scenarios.
  • When pushed beyond stated system limitations and proposed federal requirements, the variation among systems became more pronounced.
    • When traveling at 45 mph and approaching a static vehicle, the systems designed to prevent crashes reduced speeds by 74 percent overall and avoided crashes in 40 percent of scenarios. In contrast, systems designed to lessen crash severity were only able to reduce vehicle speed by 9 percent overall.

“Automatic emergency braking systems have the potential to drastically reduce the risk of injury from a crash,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. “When traveling at 30 mph, a speed reduction of just 10 mph can reduce the energy of crash impact by more than 50 percent.”

In addition to the independent testing, AAA surveyed U.S. drivers to understand consumer purchase habits and trust of automatic emergency braking systems. Results reveal:

  • Nine percent of U.S. drivers currently have automatic emergency braking on their vehicle.
  • Nearly 40 percent of U.S. drivers want automatic emergency braking on their next vehicle.
    • Men are more likely to want an automatic emergency braking system in their next vehicle (42 percent) than female drivers (35 percent).
  • Two out of five U.S. drivers trust automatic emergency braking to work.
    • Drivers who currently own a vehicle equipped with automatic emergency braking system are more likely to trust it to work (71 percent) compared to drivers that have not experienced the technology (41 percent).

“When shopping for a new vehicle, AAA recommends considering one equipped with an automatic emergency braking system,” continued Nielsen. “However, with the proliferation of vehicle technology, it’s more important than ever for drivers to fully understand their vehicle’s capabilities and limitations before driving off the dealer lot.”

For its potential to reduce crash severity, 20 automakers representing 99 percent of vehicle sales have committed to making automatic emergency braking systems standard on all new vehicles by 2022. The U.S. Department of Transportation said this voluntary agreement will make the safety feature available on new cars up to three years sooner than could be achieved through the formal regulatory process. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rear-end collisions, which automatic emergency braking systems are designed to mitigate, result in nearly 2,000 fatalities and more than 500,000 injuries annually. Currently, 10 percent of new vehicles have automatic emergency braking as standard equipment, and more than half of new vehicles offer the feature as an option.

AAA’s testing of automatic emergency braking systems was conducted on a closed course at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Using instrumented vehicles and a state-of the-art robotic “soft car” that allowed for collisions without vehicle damage, AAA collected vehicle separation, speed and deceleration data in a variety of crash scenarios designed to mirror real-world driving conditions. The testing was designed to build on previous testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. For additional information, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Despite Vehicle Advances, Break Downs at Record High

July 20th, 2016 by Jessica Souto

Mariam Ali Contact TileAAA rescued a record-breaking 32 million drivers in 2015

ORLANDO, Fla. (July 20, 2016) – Despite advances in vehicle technology, including maintenance reminders and other dashboard alerts designed to mitigate roadside trouble, AAA rescued a record-breaking 32 million drivers in 2015, with more battery, flat tire and key problems than ever before, a new study shows. Vehicles fewer than five years old in particular experienced a higher proportion of tire and key-related issues than older vehicles, suggesting that the trend toward eliminating the spare tire and moving to electronic keyless ignitions may have unintended consequences.

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“Vehicles today are advanced more than ever, yet are still vulnerable to breakdowns,” said Cliff Ruud, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Solutions. “Sleek, low profile tires are highly susceptible to damage, electronic keyless ignitions can zap battery life and despite advanced warning systems, more than half a million drivers ran out of gas last year.”

Owners of new vehicles may be unaware that some new vehicle designs and features may leave them vulnerable at the roadside. To reduce vehicle weight and boost fuel economy, spare tires are being eliminated from new vehicles at alarming rates, and are being replaced with tire inflator kits that can only remedy some flat tire situations. Additionally, new keyless ignition systems can drain the battery life when keys are stored too close to the vehicle and can lock a driver out of the vehicle while the engine is still running. Finally, despite nearly all new vehicles being equipped with low fuel warning alerts and range estimations, a higher proportion of drivers are using these systems to push the limits between fuel ups.

Other key findings from an analysis of AAA’s 2015 roadside assistance data include:

  • Battery failures, flat tires and keys locked inside the vehicle remain the top roadside assistance requests.
  • Vehicles fewer than five years old have a higher proportion of tire, key and fuel-related issues than older vehicles. Due in part to complex, electronic vehicle designs, one-in-five service calls for a newer vehicle required a tow to a repair facility.
  • Vehicles between 6 and 10 years old have the highest proportion of battery-related issues, as most batteries have a three- to five-year life.
  • Roadside assistance calls peak in the summer (8.3 million) followed by winter (8.1 million), fall (7.8 million) and spring (7.7 million).
  • Drivers are most likely to request roadside assistance on Mondays and least likely to request assistance on Sundays.
  • Drivers in the West experienced the most breakdowns, followed by the South, the Northeast and the Midwest.
  • Despite advances in key technology, AAA came to the rescue of more than four million drivers locked out of their vehicles.

“Drivers today have increasingly-connected lifestyles, and want reliable, flexible service options when trouble strikes,” continued Ruud. “AAA has responded with flexible roadside assistance offerings nationwide including app-based service requests and the ability to track assigned service vehicles in real time on a smartphone.”

To help prevent millions of roadside breakdowns from happening, AAA offers the following recommendations for common roadside problems:

  • Check for a spare tire: Before purchasing a car, check that the vehicle includes a spare tire. If it doesn’t, consider adding one as an option. Tire inflator kits — which have replaced spare tires on tens of millions of vehicles –cannot remedy all types of tire damage.
  • Check tires: At least once a month, check the tire pressure to ensure proper inflation. This affects tire wear and vehicle handling. Tires should be rotated based on the manufacturer’s recommended schedule for the vehicle.
  • Lockouts: AAA recommends motorists take special care of their “smart keys” and keyless entry fobs. Always take keys when exiting the car, avoid exposing keyless-entry remote or smart keys to water and always replace the key or fob battery when recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
  • Battery: AAA recommends that drivers have their vehicle’s battery tested when it reaches three years of age and on an annual basis thereafter. AAA’s Mobile Battery Service offers free battery testing for AAA members.
  • Pack an emergency kit: A recent AAA survey shows that more than 40 percent of motorists do not carry an emergency kit in their vehicle. AAA recommends that every driver have a well-stocked emergency kit, which includes a mobile phone and car charger; a flashlight with extra batteries; a first-aid kit; drinking water; extra snacks/food for your travelers and any pets; battery booster cables; and emergency flares or reflectors.

Before hitting the road, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad, Android and Apple Watch. Travelers can use the app to request AAA roadside assistance, route a trip, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, book a hotel and more. In addition, AAA members can also track in real time the location of their assigned vehicle with Service Tracker. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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