Archive for the ‘Auto’ Category

Majority of American Drivers on Naughty List

December 10th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro

Erin SteppNew AAA survey reveals three out of four American drivers park incorrectly*

ORLANDO, Fla. (December 10, 2015) – This holiday season, as parking lots at shopping malls fill with millions of vehicles, AAA warns drivers to avoid a common parking lot mistake. According to a new survey, more than three quarters (76 percent) of U.S. drivers most frequently park their vehicle by pulling forward into a parking spot, rather than backing in, a riskier practice that driving experts warn leaves pedestrians more vulnerable when a driver later reverses from the spot and into the traffic lane.

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“Recognizing that American parking habits differ from much of the world, automakers are increasingly adding technology to vehicles that is designed to address rear visibility concerns,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “However, AAA’s testing of these systems reveals significant shortcomings when used in real-world conditions and Americans should rely more on driving skills than technology.”

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA tested rear cross traffic alert systems, designed to alert drivers to traffic passing behind a reversing vehicle, and found significant system limitations exist when parked between larger vehicles, such as SUVs or minivans.  In this common parking lot scenario, the tested systems failed to detect pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles and other vehicles at alarming rates:

  • A passing motorcycle was not detected by the systems in 48 percent of tests.
  • The systems failed to detect a bicycle passing behind the vehicle 40 percent of the time.
  • The systems failed to detect a passing vehicle 30 percent of the time.
  • While not all systems are designed to detect pedestrians, the technology failed to detect pedestrians 60 percent of the time.

“AAA’s independent testing showed that rear cross traffic alert systems failed to work effectively in several test vehicles,” cautioned Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. “It’s critical that drivers reverse slowly and use this technology as an aid to, not a substitute for, safe driving.”

Previous AAA testing of rear-view camera systems, required on all new vehicles by 2018, revealed significant consumer benefits including increased visibility of the rear blind zone by an average of 46 percent.  However, it’s important to note that no system shows 100 percent of the space behind a vehicle and that rain, snow or slush can impede camera visibility.

“When it comes to parking, the majority of American drivers are on the naughty list this year,” continued Nielsen. “Pulling out of a parking spot, instead of reversing, is an easy way to increase safety and visibility in busy parking lots this holiday season.”

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 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.

 

*AAA recommends that drivers reverse into parking spaces whenever possible, except where prohibited by law or parking lot restrictions. When faced with angled parking, drivers should follow the flow of traffic and pull forward into the parking space.

Flat Lining: One Third of 2015 Vehicles Missing Spare Tire

November 11th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro

AAA calls on automakers to put consumers first, save the spare tire

Erin SteppORLANDO, Fla. (November 11, 2015) – Automakers’ decision to eliminate the spare tire may leave more than 30 million drivers vulnerable at the roadside, according to new research from AAA. Tire inflator kits, a high-cost alternative for consumers, have replaced the spare tire in millions of vehicles over the last 10 model years and, due to their limited functionality, cannot provide even a temporary fix for many common tire-related problems. AAA calls on automakers to put consumer interests first and halt the elimination of the spare tire.

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“Flat tires are not a disappearing problem, but spare tires are,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “AAA responds to more than four million calls for flat tire assistance annually and, despite advances in vehicle technology, we have not seen a decline in tire-related calls over the last five years.”

Along with run-flat tires, tire inflator kits have replaced spare tires on 29 million vehicles in the last 10 model years, steadily increasing from five percent of 2006 model year vehicles to more than one-in-three 2015 model year vehicles (36 percent) sold. While each four-pound kit eliminates approximately 30 pounds of weight, resulting in minimal savings in fuel consumption, the replacement cost is high. With some kits costing up to $300 per use, a tire inflator kit can cost consumers up to 10 times more than a simple tire repair and has a shelf life of only four to eight years.

“Automakers are facing increasingly-stringent fuel economy standards and the spare tire has become a casualty in an effort to reduce weight and boost miles-per-gallon,” continued Nielsen. “Advances in automotive engineering allow for weight to be reduced in ways that don’t leave motorists stranded at the roadside.”

AAA tested the most common tire inflator kits in today’s vehicles and found that the units worked well in some scenarios, but they are not a substitute for a spare tire. For an inflator kit to work effectively, a tire must be punctured in the tread surface and the object must remain in the tire. Used correctly, the kit then coats the inner wall of the tire with a sealant and a compressor re-inflates the tire. If the puncture-causing object is no longer in the tire, a sidewall is damaged or a blowout occurs, a tire inflator kit cannot remedy the situation and the vehicle will require a tow.

Knowing how to change a tire is also a skill that is now less prevalent among younger age groups. More than one-in-five millennial drivers (ages 18-34) do not know how to change a tire, compared to the nearly 90 percent of drivers aged 35-54 that know this important skill. Gender differences also exist: while nearly all men (97 percent) claim to know how to change a tire, only 68 percent of women boast the same ability.

“Consumers may mistakenly believe that inflator kits are a one-size-fits-all alternative to installing a spare tire,” continued Nielsen. “The reality is these kits can accommodate specific types of tire damage, but having the option to install a spare tire can save stranded drivers time and money.”

If faced with roadside trouble, including a flat tire, AAA is available to help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  AAA members can request assistance by calling (800) AAA-HELP, visiting AAA.com/RoadsideAssistance or via the AAA Mobile App.  To become a member, visit AAA.com/join.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 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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Erin SteppOne-third of Americans ignore vehicle maintenance needs

ORLANDO, Fla. (October 8, 2015) – A new analysis of AAA roadside assistance data reveals that millions of roadside breakdowns each year could be prevented with basic vehicle maintenance.  Despite this, a recent AAA survey found that 35 percent of Americans have skipped or delayed service or repairs that were recommended by a mechanic or specified by the factory maintenance schedule.

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“According to a survey of AAA’s certified Approved Auto Repair shops, consumers that forget or ignore recommended maintenance ultimately pay higher repair costs,” cautioned John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “These repair facilities estimate drivers can save an average of one hundred dollars per visit simply by properly maintaining their vehicle.”

In 2014, AAA responded to more than 29 million calls for roadside assistance, with the majority (17 million) due to battery failure, flat tires and keys locked inside the vehicle. To prevent these common roadside problems, AAA offers the following recommendations:

  • Batteries: Automotive batteries typically last between three and five years, with reduced battery life in hotter climates. To avoid an unexpected battery failure, AAA recommends that drivers have their vehicle’s battery tested when it reaches three years of age and on an annual basis thereafter.  According to a recent survey, two thirds of Americans have never had their car battery tested prior to their vehicle failing to start. AAA’s Mobile Battery Service offers free battery testing to AAA members.
  • Tires: Keeping tires properly inflated and routinely checking tread depth is critical to safety, yet AAA found that 60 percent of Americans do not check tire pressures regularly. Tire pressures, including the spare tire, should be checked at least once a month, and when tread depth reaches 4/32” AAA recommends replacing tires. Additionally, while locking lug nuts are helpful in preventing tire theft, missing keys prevented roadside assistance technicians from changing 21,000 tires in 2014. AAA recommends storing the locking lug nut key with the spare tire or in the glove box.
  • Keys: Despite the rising popularity of Passive Keyless Entry systems, AAA has not seen a significant reduction in the number of calls related to drivers being locked out of their vehicle in the last decade, proving that it is difficult to prevent this common mistake.

“While problems with batteries, tires and keys are the most common reasons that members call AAA for help, there are more than 12 million calls each year related to engine trouble, fuel issues and other mechanical mishaps,” warned Nielsen. “AAA will always be there to save the day, but this study reveals drivers can save time and money by investing in routine maintenance.”

Other key findings from 2014 roadside assistance data include:

  • AAA towed more than two million vehicles for engine-related issues and an additional 600,000 vehicles for transmission failure.
  • More than 235,000 vehicles were towed due to brake system failures.
  • While most modern vehicles are equipped with low-fuel lights, AAA provided gasoline fuel delivery to more than half a million vehicles in 2014.
  • Due to members incorrectly fueling their gasoline-powered vehicle with diesel fuel, or vice-versa, AAA towed more than 13,000 vehicles to repair facilities.

“While today’s vehicle technology incorporates maintenance reminders and dashboard alerts designed to prevent roadside trouble, drivers still must take action,” cautioned Josh VanWynsberghe, AAA’s automotive technical engineer. “Finding a mechanic you trust and allowing that shop to perform all of your vehicle’s maintenance will result in improved reliability, higher resale values and increased safety.”

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 and background checks, 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.  To find an AAR facility, visit AAA.com/Repair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 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.

Americans Steer Away from Autonomous Parking

September 22nd, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro

Erin SteppAAA finds self-parking technology lacks consumer trust, outperforms drivers

ORLANDO, Fla. (September 22, 2015) – As automakers increasingly integrate self-parking features into new vehicles, Americans say they are not ready to give up control. According to a new survey from AAA, nearly 80 percent of American drivers are confident in their parallel parking abilities and only one-in-four would trust this technology to park their vehicle. Despite this, AAA testing found self-parking technology outperformed unassisted drivers in four key areas.

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“Autonomous features, such as active park assist, are rapidly being introduced into new vehicles, yet American drivers are hesitant to let go of the wheel,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “While the vast majority of Americans say they would not trust self-parking technology, AAA found these features performed well in tests and warrants consideration of new car buyers.”

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA tested self-parking features on five vehicles: a 2015 Lincoln MKC, a 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 4Matic, a 2015 Cadillac CTS-V Sport, a 2015 BMW i3 and a 2015 Jeep Cherokee Limited.

Compared to drivers that manually parallel parked with the aid of a standard back-up camera, AAA found:

  • Drivers using self-parking systems experienced 81 percent fewer curb strikes.
  • Self-parking systems parallel parked the vehicle using 47 percent fewer maneuvers, with some systems completing the task in as little as one maneuver.
  • Self-parking systems were able to park a vehicle 10 percent faster.
  • Self-parking systems were able to park 37 percent closer to the curb.

“AAA’s testing found that self-parking technology outperformed manual parking in number of curb strikes, number of maneuvers, speed and accuracy,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. “While Americans report feeling confident in their parallel parking abilities, this technology proves there is room for improvement.”

While the tested self-parking systems performed well and parked quicker and more accurately than an unassisted driver, the technology is not without flaws.  AAA found that some systems parked the vehicles exceedingly close to the curb, leaving wheels and tires vulnerable to scratches and costly repairs.

“AAA recommends that drivers leave six-to-eight inches between the vehicle and the curb when parallel parking,” warned Nielsen. “With some systems leaving as little as a half-inch buffer, AAA urges automakers to increase this distance to prevent vehicle damage.”

To learn more about AAA’s vehicle testing series, designed to educate and inform AAA members, the automotive industry and the general public, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 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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AAA roadside assistance comes to Apple Watch

June 24th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro

Yolanda CadeOrlando, Fla. (June 24, 2015) – AAA is proud to announce the launch of an Apple Watch version of Service Tracker for the CAA app. The app allows members to easily track the location of their assigned service vehicle in real time. Using GPS, Service Tracker allows members to have the convenience to know exactly when their service vehicle will arrive. Soon, a quick glance at your Apple Watch will do the same thing, becoming the first roadside assistance app configured for Apple Watch.

The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) added Service Tracker to its Apple and Android smartphone apps in Ontario one year ago. Service Tracker for Apple Watch will roll out in Ontario in July 2015 and in other Canadian test markets beginning later this year. AAA members can also look forward to having access to the app as well. The Apple Watch App for Service Tracker will be available in U.S. test markets later this year. Meanwhile, the Service Tracker functionality is available now in select AAA markets.

“AAA understands the changing needs of our members and the role that emerging technology plays in our daily lives. This new Service Tracker function on Apple Watch delivers a state-of-the art digital version of roadside assistance that combines convenience with safety and security at the roadside,” said Marshall Doney, AAA President.

With the new Apple Watch functionality, members will get the peace of mind they’ve always had with AAA on their wrist, with the added benefit of knowing exactly when help will arrive.  AAA is using the latest technology to make member experiences even more seamless.

After making a service call using the AAA iPhone app, members will be able to automatically track the service vehicle to their location using the Apple Watch map display – including an ETA. Members can also choose to utilize its notifications function, which offer value-added benefits, such as special AAA Rewards offers or even a reminder to plug in your vehicle on a cold night.

The Apple Watch is proving to be Apple’s most successful product launch so far, with over seven million sold since it became available on April 24, 2015. AAA’s industry-leading roadside assistance continues to be available to members through regular web and 24/7 call center channels, allowing members access to AAA services any way they want

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 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.

Erin SteppAAA analysis, test results reveal that drivers, not automakers, responsible for shortcomings

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ORLANDO, Fla. (June 17, 2015)  – A new AAA survey reveals that one-in-three Americans do not believe the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new vehicle window sticker accurately reflects the fuel economy they achieve when driving. To assess the accuracy of this perception, AAA performed an analysis of data collected on the EPA’s FuelEconomy.gov website, along with laboratory and real-world vehicle testing, and found that driver behaviors and environmental conditions, rather than vehicle shortcomings, are likely responsible for most fuel economy variances.

“For years, we’ve heard that drivers question whether the fuel economy rating for their vehicle is accurate,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director, Automotive Engineering and Repair. “In the interest of our members, AAA aimed to address this issue with a multi-phase testing series designed to uncover the real reasons behind fuel economy variations.”

AAA engineers conducted a comprehensive analysis of 37,000 records submitted to the EPA, representing over 8,400 vehicle make, model and year combinations, to identify trends in real-world fuel economy.  Surprisingly, among the self-reported data, eight out of 10 drivers reported fuel economy that was higher than the combined city and highway EPA mileage rating for their vehicle. Additional findings include:

  • Owners of vehicles equipped with manual transmissions reported 17 percent higher fuel economy than EPA ratings.
  • Owners of diesel-fuel vehicles, including light trucks, reported 20 percent higher fuel economy than EPA ratings.
  • Truck owners with gasoline-fuel V-8 engines reported fuel economy five percent higher than EPA ratings, while owners of turbocharged V-6 engines reported fuel economy that was nine percent lower.
  • Owners of sedans with V-6 engines reported a nine percent higher fuel economy than EPA ratings, while owners of turbocharged four cylinder engines reported fuel economy that was four percent lower.
  • Minivan owners reported real-world fuel economy that was equal to or slightly lower than EPA ratings.

“The vast majority of drivers that submit their vehicle’s fuel economy to the EPA report mileage that beats the window sticker rating,” continued Nielsen. “Although self-reported data has limitations, it’s encouraging to see real-world fuel economy that more closely aligns with, or even exceeds, automaker promises.”

In conducting this analysis, AAA engineers identified a list of vehicles that were frequently reported as failing to achieve the EPA’s mileage rating. The majority of these vehicles, including the scrutinized Hyundai and Kia models, have since been retested and, in some cases, mileage ratings were revised.  AAA selected three additional vehicles – a 2014 full-size pickup truck, a 2014 large sedan and a 2012 medium sedan – for further testing.

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA tested the vehicles independently to verify the fuel economy.  Over the course of several weeks, testing was conducted using a certified dynamometer and on the streets of Southern California.  Test results from of all three vehicles confirmed the EPA mileage rating was accurate, leaving AAA to conclude that driving behaviors, vehicle condition, driving environment and terrain are likely responsible for most deviations from EPA ratings that consumers experience.

“In addition to logging hundreds of miles in various driving environments, the research team put the vehicles through EPA-specified testing designed to mimic the real-world conditions, including city, highway and aggressive driving,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. “The findings indicate that while vehicles tested are capable of achieving the EPA rating, a driver’s real-world mileage will vary based on driving style.”

In the next phase of AAA’s fuel economy testing series, to be released in late 2015, researchers will measure the impact that specific driving behaviors, such as acceleration rates and idle time, have on an individual driver’s fuel economy. In the meantime, AAA recommends that drivers take a closer look at their driving habits to understand the role they play in the fuel efficiency of their vehicle.

“If you drive aggressively, with heavy acceleration, hard braking and driving at higher speeds, your fuel economy is going to suffer,” continued Nielsen. “Driving just five miles-per-hour above 50 is like paying an additional 19 cents per gallon for gasoline.”

To learn more about AAA’s vehicle testing series, designed to educate and inform AAA members, the automotive industry and the general public, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com. For daily gas price information and fuel cost estimates for road trips, visit FuelGaugeReport.AAA.com. To find the cheapest gas prices near you, download the AAA Mobile app at AAA.com/mobile.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 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.

Heather HunterAuto technology showdown matched top high school student teams from all 50 states; over $12 million in scholarships awarded to help refuel auto industry’s next generation of talent

DEARBORN, Mich. (June 9, 2015) – Students from across the country gathered in Dearborn today, to match wits and workmanship in a race against the clock – and one another – for the right to claim a national championship and be named the winners of the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals at Ford World Headquarters.

When the dust settled, the duo of Morgan White and Jay Saunders from Vale High School in Vale, Ore., claimed the crown of America’s top auto technicians, registering the day’s top score under the tutelage of instructor Drew Barnes.

With over $12 million dollars in scholarship prizes in the balance, state winners gathered in Dearborn to solve “real world” automotive challenges – both digital and mechanical – in a timed competition. A quick mind and steady hands were required as top automotive students worked with wrenches and computers alike. With new and innovative technologies becoming a bigger part of the manuthercturing process, contestants in the 2015 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition represent the next generation of auto technicians who will work on these vehicles.

The 2015 winning team from Oregon represents a long-running family tradition of participation in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition. Jay Saunders, is one of five Saunders’ sons to participate in the program, including two of his brothers who were also crowned national champions in 1992 and 2011.  Morgan White’s father, Randy Belnap, was the second member of the 1992 national championship team. The instructor from Vale High School, Drew Barnes, is creating a legacy of his own capturing his second national title in just his 3rd appearance.

Beginning with a shotgun start, the student competitors (all paired in two-person teams) raced to their identical 2015 Ford Mustang Fastbacks to review a work order that challenged them to diagnose and repair a number of purposefully placed “bugs” ranging from digital to mechanical and electrical. Once the repairs were completed, it was a race to shut the hood, fire up the engine and steer the vehicle across the finish line – where a scrutinizing judging team awaited.

To earn the National Title, White and Saunders earned a “perfect car” score by flawlessly repairing all the “bugs” without any demerits. Students are graded on quality repair workmanship and safety. Combined with the results of a written examination taken on June 8, their score allowed them to hoist the trophy as national champions.

The top-10 teams in the 2015 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals were:

State High School City Student Student Instructor
1. Oregon Vale High School Vale Morgan White Jay Saunders Drew Barnes
2. Alaska North Pole High School North Pole Cole Vinton Andrew Risner Gerald Million
3. North Carolina Watauga High School Boone Graham Roten Daniel Taylor Larry Jones
4. Hawaii Maui High School Vale David Casayuran Joseph Burger Shannon Rowe
5. Virginia Fauquier High School Warrenton David Manzella Michael Stevens Harlan Freeman
6. California Santa Barbara County Regional Occupational Program Santa Maria Danny Zamora Angel Torralba Michael Johnson
7. Florida Manatee Technical College Bradenton Timothy Thompson Dylan Jones Jose Cestero
8. Pennsylvania Wallenpaupack AreaHigh School Hawley Nicolas Schroeder Anthony Litz Mark Watson
9. Massachusetts Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School Marlborough Jonathan Sherman Nate Rand Paul Airoldi
10. Idaho Meridian High School Meridian Clint McKague Phillip Penrod Randy Mahler

In addition to scholarships, the national champion Oregon team will enjoy an immersive, weeklong job shadow experience with auto racing royalty, Wood Brothers Racing’s legendary No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion team and driver Ryan Blaney. The hands-on-experience will take place at the Wood Brothers Racing shop in Harrisburg, N.C. and also trackside in Daytona as the Team prepares the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion car for the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola in early July.

“The commitment necessary to make it to the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals was evident as I spoke with many of the students and instructors,” said driver Ryan Blaney. “Our team is extremely excited to host the Oregon team and show them behind-the-scenes at a race shop and then be part of our team in Daytona. It’s going to be a great experience for them to witness first-hand the adjustments that are made to a race car during an actual race.”

“For today’s automotive technicians, being able to diagnose and repair a computer-related malfunction is just as critical as fixing mechanical failures,” said Margaret Pittelkow, AAA Vice President, Automotive. “As a generation that has grown up with digital technology, these students are uniquely qualified to lead the auto industry forward and you saw their brilliance on display today in a high-octane atmosphere matching the nation’s best talent from coast-to-coast.”

“The automotive technicians of tomorrow must be well-educated and highly-skilled to meet the current and future technological advances in automotive technology,” said Steve DeAngelis, Ford’s Manager of Technical Support Operations. “The people at Ford are committed to training and retaining the best technicians in the industry, which is why we are so proud of our involvement in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition.”

About Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills

The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills is a nationwide automotive technology competition that will award over $12 million in scholarships and prizes to high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing careers as automotive service technicians. Approximately, 12,000 students from across the U.S. competed for the chance to represent their school and state in the National Finals. The competition tested students’ automotive knowledge, workmanship and problem-solving abilities. For additional information on the competition, visit autoskills.aaa.com.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 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.

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Michigan, manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 194,000 employees and 66 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit http://corporate.ford.com.

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Heather Hunter

One hundred of the top automotive high school students from across the country will converge on the Motor City to compete for the national title and millions of dollars in scholarships and prizes

ORLANDO, Fla. (June 8, 2015) – As automotive vehicles become more technologically advanced, demand is high for skilled auto technicians that understand the intricacies of repairing America’s fleet of automobiles. The 2015 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition will gather the nation’s top young automotive minds to display their skills and compete for the national title and millions of dollars in scholarships.

The 2015 Student Auto Skills Competition culminates with the crowning of a national champion on Tuesday, June 9 at Ford Motor Company’s World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. The competition features 100 top automotive technology students from all 50 states, with each state represented by a two-student team and their high school instructor.

At the National Finals, the students will have their automotive skills and knowledge put to the test with a written exam and a timed event in which they race against the clock and each other to repair deliberately-installed “bugs” in identical 2015 Ford Mustang Fastbacks with 3.7L V6 engines.   The students will use the OTC Encore, a diagnostics tool made by Bosch, to identify issues and fix the vehicles. In addition to being a major automotive supplier, Bosch too, focuses on developing young technicians through hands-on training and a nationwide team of field training specialists.

The road to Dearborn began in January when nearly 12,000 high school juniors and seniors took an online exam testing their automotive technology knowledge, and will culminate with one team earning the title of national champion. In addition to scholarships and prizes, this year’s national champions will earn the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through a weeklong job shadow experience with auto racing royalty, Wood Brothers Racing’s legendary No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion team and driver Ryan Blaney. For these two automotive student national champions and their instructor, this unique job shadow experience extends from a high-tech performance garage in North Carolina to the world-famous Daytona International Speedway, including:

  • Immersion of the winning students into the Wood Brothers Racing team as these expert auto technicians prepare for one the biggest events on the Sprint Cup Series calendar – the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, July 5
  • Mentoring by No. 21 driver Ryan Blaney at both the Wood Brothers Racing shop in Harrisburg, North Carolina and also trackside at Daytona
  • Serving as honorary on-track pit crew members on the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion under the guidance of Crew Chief Jeremy Bullins

“Every week it’s the drivers who get all the attention on the track,” said Blaney, “but truthfully, we wouldn’t even be able to race if it wasn’t for our crew. Our team is the best in the business. They spend their entire week working to keep the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane car in top condition for me to race.”

Founded in 1950, Wood Brothers Racing is the oldest active team in NASCAR. The Wood Brothers have won 14 Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona International Speedway, more than any other team in the sport.

Added Blaney, “The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition is an unparalleled opportunity for the thousands of students across the country who want to break into the industry. I’m pretty excited to see these National Champions. Although the students are only in high school, they can work on the world’s best cars themselves. Who knows, maybe one of these students will end up on our pit crew!”

As cars continue to become more advanced, Ford is leading the way with new technologies such as all-electric vehicles, adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake assist. Understanding the mechanics behind these technologies is essential to the future of the automotive industry, the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills challenge focuses on technological practices, while educating the next generation of technicians in traditional mechanical principles so they will be able to understand and work on new vehicles.

The 2015 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills may enable many of its participants to embark on promising careers in the automotive repair industry to help fuel the demand for well-trained technicians that can repair both computer and mechanical components in today’s advanced vehicles. Both the national and the state-wide competitions were organized with the support of AAA and Ford personnel, local automotive instructors and the AAA Approved Auto Repair program, a public service AAA performs to identify quality repair facilities throughout the country. The competition will award over $12 million in scholarships to high school auto students, including the national title winners, allowing them to further their education in this rapidly changing industry.

About Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills

The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills is a nationwide automotive technology competition that offers over $12 million in scholarships and prizes to high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing careers as automotive service technicians.  Approximately, 12,000 students from across the U.S. compete for the chance to represent their school and state in the National Finals. The competition tests students’ automotive knowledge, workmanship and problem-solving abilities. For additional information on the competition, visit autoskills.aaa.com.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 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.

About Ford Motor Company

For Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Michigan, manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 194,000 employees and 66 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit http://corporate.ford.com.

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AAA Tests Shine High-Beam on Headlight Limitations

May 13th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro

Erin SteppTests show headlights lights may fail to safely illuminate dark roadways

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 13, 2015) – New test results from AAA reveal the potential for significant headlight shortcomings when traveling on roadways that lack overhead lighting, typically America’s rural roads, which account for 40 percent of vehicle miles traveled annually. To assess headlight capabilities and limitations and learn what, if any, advantage advanced headlight technologies offer, AAA compared the performance of halogen, high intensity discharge (HID) and light emitting diode (LED) headlights. AAA’s test results suggest that halogen headlights, found in over 80 percent of vehicles on the road today, may fail to safely illuminate unlit roadways at speeds as low as 40 mph.

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The testing, conducted with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, measured the distances at which modern headlights illuminate non-reflective objects on both low-beam and high-beam settings. These findings, paired with guidelines issued by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, indicate that when traveling on unlit roadways, today’s headlights fail to light the full distance necessary for a driver to detect an object or obstacle in the roadway, react and come to a complete stop.

“AAA’s test results reveal that headlights found in U.S. vehicles fall short on safety,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. “By failing to properly light roadways at moderate speeds, a pedestrian or animal may not become visible to a driver until it’s too late to stop.”

While high-beam settings on halogen headlights improved sight distances by 28 percent at the testing facility, in real-world conditions they may only provide enough light to safely stop at speeds of up to 48 mph, leaving drivers vulnerable at highway speeds. Despite the clear need for the additional visibility that high-beams offer, particularly on unlit roads, a recent AAA survey found that only a third of Americans admit to using these settings regularly.

Additional testing found that while the advanced headlight technology found in HID and LED headlights illuminated dark roadways 25 percent further than their halogen counter parts, they still may fail to fully illuminate roadways at speeds greater than 45 mph. High-beam settings on these advanced headlights offered significant improvement over low-beam settings, lighting distances of up to 500 feet (equal to 55 mph). Despite the increase, even the most advanced headlights fall 60 percent short of the sight distances that the full light of day provides.

“While it’s encouraging to see the safety benefit that newer headlight technology offers to drivers, there’s still room for improvement,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director, Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Unlike the more advanced headlight technology available in European vehicles, current government regulations limit the light output for vehicles sold in the United States. AAA looks forward to working with U.S. policy makers to ensure federal regulations keep up with changing technology.”

In addition to testing low-beam and high-beam headlight performance, AAA tested the effect that deteriorated headlight lenses have on light intensity and glare. The protective coating used on the plastics of modern lenses can slowly deteriorate and cloud after about five years, reducing light output and increasing light scatter which results in glare for other drivers.  The testing found that restoring headlights doubles the maximum light intensity and reduces glare-producing light scatter by up to 60 percent.  Yet, according to a recent AAA survey, only 20 percent of Americans have performed this service.

“Deteriorated or dirty headlight lenses are not just an aesthetic issue,” warned Nielsen. “An annual service on older vehicles will increase your nighttime visibility and minimize distracting glare for fellow drivers.”

To learn more about AAA’s vehicle testing series, designed to educate and inform AAA members, the automotive industry and the general public, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 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.

Erin SteppLower Gas Prices Help Fuel 2 Percent Decline From 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 28, 2015) – Due to declines in gas prices and finance charges, the annual cost to own and operate a vehicle has fallen to $8,698, a nearly 2 percent drop from last year, according to AAA’s 2015 Your Driving Costs study.  This research examines the cost of fuel, maintenance, tires, insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges associated with driving a typical sedan 15,000 miles annually. In the United States, a driver can expect to spend 58 cents for each mile driven, nearly $725 per month, to cover the fixed and variable costs associated with owning and operating a car in 2015.

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“Fortunately, reduced gasoline and finance costs more than offset rising costs in other areas,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair.  “As a result, car owners can look forward to saving approximately $178 this year.”

Based on 15,000 miles

Small Sedan

Medium Sedan

Large Sedan

Sedan Average

Minivan

SUV (4WD)

Annual Total Cost

$6,729

$8,716

$10,649

$8,698

$9,372

$10,624

Annual Cost Per Mile

$0.449

$0.581

$0.710

$0.580

$0.625

$0.708

 

Fuel: DOWN 13.77 percent to 11.2 cents per mile/$1,681.50 per year (-$268.50).

Compared to last year’s study, the average cost of regular unleaded fuel fell nearly 13 percent to $2.855 per gallon. This decline, coupled with improvements in vehicle fuel economy, resulted in an average 11.21 cents-per-mile fuel cost.  Due in large part to this decrease, the cost of owning and operating a sport utility vehicle is slightly less than that of a large sedan this year.

Finance Charges: DOWN 21.02 percent to $669 per year (-$178).

With rising car sales and stiff competition among dealers, many manufacturers are offering low finance rates to attract buyers.  In 2015, average vehicle finance rates dropped 21 percent, which equates to approximately $15 per month on a typical five-year loan. However, rates vary widely with borrower credit scores.

Depreciation: UP 4.10 percent to $3,654 per year (+144).

The single largest ownership expense, depreciation, rose for 2015 due to increasing new car sales that are causing an influx of used and off-lease vehicles entering the marketplace. This increased supply has resulted in lower values and selling prices for used vehicles, thus driving up depreciation costs.

Insurance: UP 8.99 percent to $1,115 per year (+$92)

Insurance rates vary widely by driver, driving habits, insurance company and geographical area. AAA’s calculations are based on low-risk drivers with excellent driving records. While premium calculations are confidential, this modest increase of $7.67 per month may be due in part to high-cost modern vehicle features such as infotainment systems, advanced safety features and lightweight materials that can be more expensive to repair and, therefore, insure.

Maintenance: UP .99 percent to 5.11 cents per mile/$766.50 per year (+$7.50)

Annual maintenance, including labor time and repair part costs associated with factory-recommended maintenance, was factored into the 2015 survey along with average costs of an extended warranty.  Maintenance costs varied widely by vehicle type but, on average, were up slightly from 5.06 cents to 5.11 cents per mile. A recent survey of AAA-Approved Auto Repair shops found that the majority of drivers are behind schedule in routine maintenance, including oil changes, tire maintenance and battery inspection/testing.

License/Registration/Taxes: UP 3.74 percent to $665 per year (+$24)

Vehicle prices rose modestly in 2014, contributing to an overall increase in state and local tax costs.  Additionally, some states increased fees related to vehicle purchasing, titling, registration and licensing.

Tires: UP 1.03 percent to .98 cents per mile/$147 per year (+$1.50)

Due to the competitive and dynamic nature of the tire market, tire costs in 2015 remain relatively unchanged, rising by just .01 cents per mile.

In addition to calculating the driving costs for sedans, AAA determined annual costs associated with both minivans and sport utility vehicles. Owners of these vehicles will benefit from annual driving costs nearly four percent lower this year, at $9,372 and $10,624 respectively, due to lower gas prices and finance rates.

“When shopping for a vehicle, smaller isn’t always cheaper,” cautioned Nielsen. “A minivan, for example, can carry up to 7 passengers, yet costs $100 less to own and operate each month compared to a large sedan.”

AAA has published Your Driving Costs since 1950. That year, driving a car 10,000 miles per year cost 9 cents per mile, and gasoline sold for 27 cents per gallon.

The Your Driving Costs study employs a proprietary AAA methodology to analyze the cost to own and operate a vehicle in the United States. Variable operating costs considered in the study include fuel, maintenance and repair, and tires. Fixed ownership costs factored into the results include insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges. Ownership costs are calculated based on the purchase of a new vehicle that is driven over five years and 75,000 miles. Your actual operating costs may vary. See AAA’s 2015 Your Driving Costs brochure for a list of vehicles and additional information on the underlying criteria used in the study.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 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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