Posts Tagged ‘John Nielsen’

Erin SteppAAA Advises Drivers to Know the Limits When Using Blind Spot and Lane Departure Systems

ORLANDO, Fla., (December 9, 2014) – AAA’s Automotive Engineering experts are confident new advanced driver assistance technologies like blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning systems have great potential to keep drivers safer, as long as motorists are aware of system limitations.  As part of AAA’s auto technology series, these two systems were recently evaluated. While the systems performed effectively in multiple situations, this evaluation uncovered scenarios where the systems failed to perform as expected. This included delayed warnings by the blind-spot monitoring technologies and lane-departure warning systems failing to track the lane under certain road conditions.

AAA’s research, conducted with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, found that:

  • Blind-spot monitoring systems had difficulty detecting fast-moving vehicles – such as when merging onto a busy highway. Alerts were often provided too late for evasive action.
  • Motorcycles were detected by blind-spot monitoring systems 26 percent later than passenger vehicles.
  • Road conditions were often a problem for lane-departure warning systems. Worn pavement markers, construction zones and intersections can cause the lane-departure warning system to lose track of lane location.
  • The litany of alerts and warnings could be confusing.  Auditory, visual or haptic responses – or a combination – could be similar to other advanced driver assistance features that delivered the same warnings.

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“With nearly three-quarters of 2014 vehicles offering blind-spot detection and 50 percent offering lane-departure warning as options, it’s key that consumers are educated on how to get the best benefit from these systems,” says John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering. “AAA’s tests found that these systems are a great asset to drivers, but there is a learning curve.”

Test-track and on-road evaluations also highlighted system performance differences between test vehicles. “Some blind-spot monitoring systems we tested had a short detection range, which meant that a vehicle was already in the blind spot before the alert came on,” says Megan McKernan, Manager of Automotive Engineering at the Automobile Club of Southern California. “The lane-departure warning system on several vehicles experienced false-positive and miss-detections, which resulted in an inconsistent driver warning.  This can be annoying and could result in the driver disabling the system due to the false alerts.”

Pros and cons aside, motorists will encounter advanced driver assistance technology as automakers cascade these devices across vehicle lines. Being aware of these systems and understanding how they operate is a necessary step before driving the vehicle.

“As travelers head out for holiday visits, they may be renting a vehicle equipped with blind-spot monitoring or lane-departure warning systems,” says Nielsen. “It’s important to take the time to review these systems so that you’re prepared for alerts and warnings and understand the limits of the technology.”

In addition to AAA’s Automotive Engineering evaluation of these systems, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has also provided an assessment of lane-departure warning systems, along with six other advanced technologies, in the August 2014 report Evaluating Technologies Relevant to the Enhancement of Driver Safety. Conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, this study rates not only the potential for lane-departure systems to reduce crash fatalities but also rates how this advanced driver technology has actually performed based on the limited data currently available.  Motorists can review the AAA Foundation’s rating for new in-vehicle technologies, along with extensive informational material, at https://www.aaafoundation.org/ratings-vehicle-safety-technology.

Additional information regarding AAA’s research on blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning systems is available on the AAA Newsroom.

AAA conducts proprietary research to better understand and communicate to members the implications of automotive technology, design and functionality.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 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.

Tests Show Rear View Cameras Can Save Lives

October 27th, 2014 by admin

GenericPublicAffairsAAA’s Evaluations Found an Average 46 Percent Improvement in Blind-Zone Visibility

ORLANDO, Fla., (October 27, 2014) – Rear-view camera systems improved rear visibility an average of 46 percent in AAA’s tests. These systems are intended to improve driver awareness of the area immediately behind the vehicle in order to reduce the instance of back-over fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires a rear-view image in all passenger vehicles beginning in 2016, with full compliance by May 2018.

  • AAA evaluated 17 vehicles across 11 manufacturers with factory-installed and aftermarket rear-view camera systems on a variety of vehicle body styles.
    • The increased visibility ranged from a 36 percent improvement in smaller sedans to a 75 percent improvement in hatchbacks. Large trucks and sport utility vehicles scored in the mid-range of vehicles evaluated.

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“Rear-view cameras are a great supplement for drivers,” says John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering. “Cameras don’t replace the need to check around your vehicle for obstacles before getting in to back up, but they do dramatically improve rear visibility. These systems are especially helpful for viewing the first 10 feet behind the vehicle, which are the most hazardous in terms of back-over risk for young children.”

AAA evaluated 17 vehicles across 11 manufacturers with factory-installed and aftermarket rear-view camera systems, testing a variety of vehicle body styles to measure the reduction in blind-zone areas as a direct result of using a rear-view camera system. AAA’s research – conducted with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center – found that:

      • A rear-view camera system increased visibility of the rear blind-zone area by an average of 46 percent for the vehicles tested. This ranged from a 36 percent improvement in smaller sedans to a 75 percent improvement in hatchbacks.
      • Although these systems dramatically improve rear-view visibility, they do not show 100 percent of the space behind the vehicle. AAA recommends drivers always walk behind their vehicle to visually confirm that there are no obstacles, and use the rear-view camera to confirm that nothing has entered the area immediately behind the vehicle since the driver’s walk-through inspection.
      • Rain, snow or slush can cloud the rear-view camera lens, delivering blurry imagery. Motorists will need to resort to manual methods of confirming that the rear blind zone is clear during inclement weather. Wiping the camera during the pre-drive inspection is a good habit that ensures the camera is ready to capture a clear image.
      • All of the systems tested met – and many exceeded – the minimum specifications for image quality per the NHTSA guideline.

“As Halloween approaches, we know that neighborhoods will be filled with small trick-or-treaters that could easily be missed when the driver turns his head to look behind the vehicle,” says Nielsen. “When used appropriately, a rear-view camera offers a bright, clear view directly behind the vehicle where small children are most difficult to see.”

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety also has provided an assessment of back-up cameras, along with six other advanced technologies, in the August 2014 report Evaluating Technologies Relevant to the Enhancement of Driver Safety. Conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, the study details a data-driven system for rating the effectiveness of new in-vehicle technologies intended to improve driver safety.  Motorists can review the AAA Foundation’s rating for new in-vehicle technologies, along with extensive informational material, at https://www.aaafoundation.org/ratings-vehicle-safety-technology.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 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 conducts proprietary research to better understand implications of automotive technology, design and functionality for consumers. Additional information regarding AAA’s research on rear-view camera systems is available on the AAA Newsroom.

 

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

Heather Hunter

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  • AAA surveyed its network of AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities to identify the maintenance items frequently missed by motorists.
  • Eighty-eight percent of repair shops find that drivers miss brake fluid maintenance, but only 35 percent find vehicles are behind on their oil changes.

ORLANDO, Fla., (October 2, 2014) – Changes in maintenance schedules due to advanced vehicle and fluid technology have changed vehicle service needs. Most motorists manage oil-change services appropriately but miss other critical maintenance items, according to a survey of AAA’s nationwide network of Approved Auto Repair shops.

Eighty-eight percent of repair shops find that motorists frequently skip brake fluid service. Other commonly missed items noted by repair providers include proper battery checks (82 percent), transmission fluid maintenance (81 percent), tire maintenance (78 percent) and engine coolant (77 percent).

“The expansion of onboard maintenance reminder systems – which often cover oil-change services – appears to help consumers stay on track with oil maintenance,” John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Many important services that are not typically detailed by those systems are often missed by consumers.”

In the past, vehicle maintenance needs were relatively simple and consistent across automakers. Today’s engineering advancements require less maintenance at less frequent intervals. Examples include oil-change intervals now recommended at 5,000 to 10,000 or more miles, transmission fluids designed to last 100,000 miles and sealed batteries that never need to have fluid added. Even with these advancements, vehicles still require routine services that are important to maintaining the performance and safety of the vehicle.

“Poor maintenance of brake fluid is a critical safety concern. All brake fluid attracts moisture, which can cause the fluid to perform poorly. Lack of maintenance can lead to contaminated fluid, corroded parts and increased stopping distance,” says Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering. “Motorists may not be aware of maintenance requirements for brake fluid, or their vehicle’s manufacturer may not recommend a specific interval for replacing the fluid.”

To ensure your vehicle is properly maintained, AAA recommends that motorists:

  • Read the maintenance requirements set by your car’s manufacturer in the owner’s manual. There is no longer a “standard” maintenance schedule for vehicle services – including brake fluid. Each automaker has different requirements, making your owner’s manual the most accurate resource.
  • Inspect brakes as recommended in your owner’s manual, or sooner if you notice pulsations, pulling, noises while braking or longer stopping distance. Correct minor brake problems promptly. Check your owner’s manual to see if the brake fluid should be changed at a specific interval. If no interval is specified for brake fluid service, AAA suggests flushing the system every two years or anytime the brake system is serviced.
  • Follow the recommendations of in-vehicle maintenance reminders, as they have the best information to determine maintenance needs for your vehicle because they account for how you actually drive. However, many reminder systems do not specifically cover maintenance operations that need to be performed on a time or mileage basis – such as brake fluid and coolant flushes or timing-belt replacement.
  • Enlist the help of a trusted repair provider to keep vehicle maintenance on track. Quality repair shops will help motorists schedule and budget for necessary maintenance services. Find a quality repair provider through AAA’s Approved repair network by visiting AAA.com.

Additional information on AAA’s recommendations for proper vehicle maintenance is available on the AAA Newsroom and AAA’s YouTube channel. AAA’s network of more than 7,000 Approved Auto Repair providers is listed on AAA.com.  AAA members can receive a free maintenance inspection anytime they have work performed at any of these locations.

AAA continually conducts proprietary research to better understand implications of automotive technology, design and functionality for consumers.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 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 HunterFueled by a drop in fourth quarter gas prices and increased fuel economy, average cost for sedans decreases 2.7 percent to 59.2 cents per mile

ORLANDO, Fla. (May 9, 2014) – AAA released the results of its annual ‘Your Driving Costs’ study today, revealing a 2.7 percent decrease in the cost to own and operate a sedan in the U.S. The average cost fell 1.64 cents to 59.2 cents per mile, or $8,876 per year, based upon 15,000 miles of annual driving.

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“Despite increases in maintenance and registration fees, American motorists are experiencing an overall decrease in the cost to own and operate a vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “A large decrease in fuel costs, and lower tire, insurance and depreciation expenses are saving owners more than one and a half cents on every mile they drive.”

The findings of the 2014 ‘Your Driving Costs’ study include:

Based on Driving 15,000 miles annually

Small

Sedan

Medium Sedan

Large Sedan

Sedan Average

SUV 4WD

Minivan

Cost Per Mile

46.4 cents

58.9 cents

72.2 cents

59.2 cents

73.6 cents

65.0 cents

Cost Per Year

$6,957

$8,839

$10,831

$8,876

$11,039

$9,753

In-depth findings of this year’s study, including a breakdown of specific costs by category of vehicle and various annual mileages, are contained in the ‘Your Driving Costs’ brochure which is available at select local AAA branch offices or may be downloaded at the AAA Newsroom.

Nielsen continued, “The true cost of vehicle ownership involves more than the sticker price and what you pay at the pump. Before you make any vehicle purchase, it is important to determine ownership and operational costs and compare them to your current and future financial situation.” To assist consumers in determining their individual driving costs, the AAA ‘Your Driving Costs’ brochure contains a worksheet that can be filled out and personalized for a specific area, driver and vehicle.

Fuel Costs Down more than 10 Percent

Fuel costs had the single largest percentage decrease from 2013 to 2014, declining 10.04 percent to 13 cents per mile. The average cost of regular grade fuel fell 5.96 percent, from $3.486 to $3.278 per gallon. At the same time, vehicle redesigns and improved power train technologies that take into account higher federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards has the effect of improving the average fuel economy of sedans used in the study.  Fuel costs in the 2014 study were calculated using the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline during the fourth quarter of 2013.

Maintenance Costs Up 1.81 Percent

This year maintenance costs increased nearly two percent to 5.06 per mile on average for sedan owners. AAA’s estimates are based upon the cost to maintain a vehicle and perform needed repairs for five years and 75,000 miles, including labor expenses, replacement part prices and the purchase of an extended warranty policy.  For 2014, some vehicles had lower costs due to longer service intervals or reduced labor times, while others experienced an increase in labor times and/or part prices that led to a rise in maintenance costs. AAA experts also identified an increasing number of vehicles requiring low-viscosity semi- or full-synthetic motor oils, which cost more than conventional oils but provide better fuel economy, added engine protection and allow for longer oil change intervals.

Tire Costs Decrease Three Percent
After several years of increases due rising costs for raw materials, energy and transportation, tire prices for 2014 have decreased three percent to 0.97 cents per mile. The decrease can be credited to two main factors; some redesigned sedans now come equipped with less expensive tires and some tire prices have declined.

Insurance Costs Decrease 0.58 Percent

In 2014, average insurance costs remain essentially unchanged at an average annual cost of $1,023, compared to $1,029 last year. Insurance rates vary widely by driver and driving record, issuing company and geographical region. AAA insurance cost estimates are based on a low-risk driver with a clean driving record and for 2014 this group saw a negligible premium decrease. Premium quotes, covering seven states across the country and insurance companies from five AAA clubs, showed minor declines for most small and medium sedans, with large cars having small increases.

Depreciation Costs Fall 1.71 Percent

After a small rise in depreciation last year, the tide has turned and depreciation decreased for 2014 to $3,510 per year from $3,571. While the numbers are improved in all three sedan categories, they are particularly strong in the medium-size area where several very desirable redesigned models have been introduced.

64th Year of ‘Your Driving Costs’ Study

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 2013 ‘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 54 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 HunterNew study reveals that lack of experience with advanced systems could put motorists at risk.

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 2, 2014) – Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) offer a significant opportunity to reduce collisions, improve traffic flow and enhance driver convenience. However, motorists may not fully understand the operation and limitations of these technologies. AAA’s research found that the assumptive gap poses a risk for distracted drivers. Although the adaptive cruise control and autonomous braking systems performed as described in the owner’s manuals, motorists unfamiliar with these devices may not be prepared for instances when the technology does not engage. The AAA research was conducted with the Automotive Research Center of the Auto Club of Southern California. 

Additional Resources

“There are significant benefits to this technology, but these systems have limitations, and multi-tasking drivers could be caught off guard by relying too heavily on safety features,” says John Nielsen, managing director, AAA Automotive Engineering and Repair. “The benefits of these systems could easily be outweighed if motorists are not familiar with their operation or lessen focus behind the wheel. Technology is not a substitute for an alert, engaged driver.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s New Car Assessment Program highlights crash-avoidance technologies “to help consumers buy a safer car.” These systems can alert a driver to a potential crash, adjust the vehicle’s pace to maintain a pre-set speed, and even brake independently to avoid a collision. Automakers are ramping up ADAS deployment to maximize safety benefits, increasing motorist exposure to autonomous systems.

To better understand how adaptive cruise control and autonomous braking function, AAA conducted test-track simulations consisting of a variety of typical commuting scenarios. Overall, the simulations demonstrated that adaptive cruise control did a good job of maintaining a specified following distance when traveling behind slower-moving vehicles in a highway setting. However, autonomous braking systems did not always recognize obstacles, provide a warning signal or engage the brakes to slow or stop the vehicle.  AAA’s research team also observed that:

  • Adaptive cruise control systems performed best when following more closely than AAA’s recommended three-second rule.
  • Tracking a vehicle at highway speeds while navigating a mild curve was unexpectedly difficult, but improved when following distance was reduced.
  • The ability to recognize obstacles varied between vehicles. The owner’s manuals for these vehicles warn that the systems may not recognize or react to motorcycles, a stopped vehicle, traffic cones or other obstructions.

Automakers have noted system limitations in owner’s manuals; but there are many indications that motorists often do not fully read the manual. Television commercials highlight capabilities without any indication of system limitations, and that input is the primary source of motorist knowledge about what these systems can do. AAA suggests safety gaps could be reduced if:

  • Automakers enhance communication to make clear and obvious the limitations of these systems.
  • Motorists become thoroughly familiar with all the technology in their car including advanced driver assistance systems before operating the vehicle.

Additional information regarding AAA’s tests of adaptive cruise control and autonomous braking is available on the AAA NewsRoom.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. AAA’s Automotive Engineering team conducts proprietary research to better understand consumer implications of automotive technology, design and functionality. 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 HunterNew study conducted by the AAA Automotive Research Center shows electric vehicle driving range can be nearly 60 percent lower in extreme cold and 33 percent lower in extreme heat.

ORLANDO, Fla., (March 20, 2014) – Electric Vehicles (EVs) are energy efficient and environmentally-friendly with the added benefit of reducing fuel costs for motorists. But, just as motorists need to know how far the gas in their tank will take them, EV drivers need to be aware of how far their vehicle can travel on a single charge. According to new AAA research conducted with the AAA Automotive Research Center in Southern California, electric vehicle range can be reduced by an average of 57 percent based on the temperature outside.

Additional Resources

“Electric motors provide smooth operation, strong acceleration, require less maintenance than internal combustion engines, and for many motorists offer a cost effective option,” said John Nielsen, managing director, AAA Automotive Engineering and Repair. “However, EV drivers need to carefully monitor driving range in hot and cold weather.”

To better understand the impact of climate on electric vehicle batteries, AAA conducted a simulation to measure the driving range of three fully-electric vehicles in cold, moderate and hot weather. Temperature made a big difference in driving range for all three EVs.

Vehicles were tested for city driving to mimic stop-and-go traffic, and to better compare with EPA ratings listed on the window sticker. The average EV battery range in AAA’s test was 105 miles at 75°F, but dropped 57 percent to 43 miles when the temperature was held steady at 20°F. Warm temperatures were less stressful on battery range, but still delivered a lower average of 69 miles per full charge at 95°F.

AAA performed testing between December 2013 and January 2014. Each vehicle completed a driving cycle for moderate, hot and cold climates following standard EPA-DOE test procedures. The vehicles were fully charged and then “driven” on a dynamometer in a climate-controlled room until the battery was fully exhausted.

AAA has initiated several projects including mobile recharging units and EV charging stations to support members who drive electric vehicles. EVs provide owners with many benefits, but every motorist needs to be aware of conditions that can impact vehicle driving range. EV drivers need to plan carefully in hot and cold weather. Mapping tools such as the AAA TripTik® Travel Planner pinpoint charging stations to keep motorists on the go.

Additional information regarding AAA’s electric vehicle testing is available on the AAA NewsRoom.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 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.

Michael Green

(WASHINGTON, November 15, 2013) “The EPA’s proposal to decrease ethanol requirements will help drivers by preventing a surge in gas prices or the premature expansion of E15 gasoline sales. While we would like to increase the use of alternative fuels, it is a plain fact that the Renewable Fuels Standard’s original targets are unreachable without putting motorists and their vehicles at risk.

“The EPA has finally put consumers first. Their proposal will support the continued development of alternative fuels, while also recognizing the needs of the millions of people that drive every day. Today’s proposal is an important step in the right direction, but it does not go far enough. Suggesting a range for 2014 targets does not guarantee that motorists will be protected from the risk of higher ethanol blends. We encourage the EPA to act quickly to finalize specific targets that help protect drivers nationwide.

“The vast majority of cars on the roads today are not designed to run on gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol. While ethanol has the potential to support the economy and reduce the reliance on fossil fuels, it is irresponsible to mandate more ethanol than cars can safely use.”

More than 90 percent of the vehicles on the road today are not approved by manufacturers to use E15, including most 2001-2013 models. E15 is only approved for use by automakers in flex-fuel engines, 2001 and newer Porsches, and selected 2012 and newer vehicles where it is clearly specified in the owner’s manual. While new models increasingly can use E15 gasoline, previous makes and models were never designed to use the fuel. It will still take at least another decade before the bulk of the fleet will be E15 compatible given that the average vehicle remains in use for more than 11 years.

 

Ginnie PritchettAAA, the nation’s largest motor club, shares useful tips for drivers during Car Care Month

ORLANDO, Fla., (October 1, 2013) – October is Car Care Month and AAA is reminding drivers about the importance of properly maintaining their vehicles. There are a few simple things every driver can do to make sure their car is ready for the road.

“Learning how to handle common maintenance issues is beneficial to anyone who gets behind the wheel,” said John Nielsen, managing director of AAA Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Proper maintenance can extend the life of your vehicle and help prevent costly repairs.”

Below are four simple car care practices AAA recommends every motorist perform on a regular basis:

Additional Resources

Check the Air and Wear of Your Tires

83% of American do not know how to properly inflate their tires, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association. The pressure on all tires—including the spare— should be checked monthly, with a quality gauge when the tires are cold. Proper pressure levels can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker most often located on the driver-side door jamb. Do not use the pressure stamped on the sidewall of the tire. Note that the pressure levels on some cars are different for the front and rear tires.

Check the tread depth on each tire by placing a quarter upside down in the tread grooves. If the top of Washington’s head is exposed at any point, it’s time to start shopping for new tires. Also, look for uneven tire wear when checking the tread. This can be an indication of suspension, wheel balance or alignment problems that need to be addressed.

Every driver at some point deals with a flat tire. Click here for a step-by-step video that shows how to prepare for and repair or replace a flat tire.

Ensure Your Car Battery is Properly Charged

Extreme temperatures break down car batteries internally and can accelerate the rate of corrosion on battery terminals, leading to insufficient electrical power and the risk of being stranded without warning.

At every oil change, check the battery cables and ensure they are securely attached to the terminals. Clean the terminals if there are signs of corrosion. Disconnecting the cables to clean the hidden areas where they contact the battery terminals is the best way to remove external corrosion.  Most car batteries have a three to five year service life, depending on local climate and vehicle usage patterns. If your battery is getting old, have it tested at a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop or by using AAA Mobile Battery Service to determine if it needs to be replaced.

Keep Those Wipers Working

Inspect the wiper blades monthly. Check to see if they are worn, cracked or rigid with age.  Damaged wiper blades won’t adequately remove debris, compromising the driver’s vision and safety. The life of a rubber insert is typically six to 12 months depending on its exposure to heat, dirt, sunlight, acid rain, and ozone.  Streaking and chattering are common clues that the rubber is breaking down and a replacement is needed.  Click here to learn more.

The windshield washer fluid reservoir should be checked monthly. Top it off with a solution formulated to aid in the removal of insects or other debris. In winter, use a solution that will not freeze at low temperatures. Also, test the washer spray nozzles for proper operation and aim before leaving on a trip.

Work with a Local Repair Shop You Trust

Every car requires routine maintenance and repair. The best time to find a mechanic or auto repair shop is before you need one. Start by asking friends and family for recommendations of repair shops and mechanics. Visit www.aaa.com/repair to find nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, take your vehicle to your top candidate shop for routine maintenance. While there, talk with the employees and take a look at the facility and consider the following questions:

  • Does the facility have up to date equipment?
  • Were you offered a written estimate?
  • Does the shop offer a nationwide warranty on parts and labor?
  • Are customer areas clean, comfortable and well organized?

Click here for more on finding the right automotive repair shop for you.

When having your car serviced, follow the factory recommended maintenance schedule to avoid under- or over-maintaining your vehicle.  Oil changes, tire rotations, changing transmission fluid, and replacing an air filter are the types of routine maintenance recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. The maintenance schedule for these services and more can be found in the vehicle owner’s manual.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 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.

Ginnie PritchettAAA’s top vehicles list for growing families driven by space, comfort and dependability

ORLANDO, Fla., (September 4, 2013) – AAA has released its latest list of top vehicles, targeting expanding families needing more room, easy handling and dependability in their next vehicle.  Whether looking for the practicality of a minivan to carry more cargo, or the sportier side of an SUV to take the team to soccer games, AAA’s list highlights a variety of vehicles growing families should consider during a new car search.

“There are many options available for families needing extra cargo space or room for additional passengers,” says David Bennett, manager, AAA Auto Buying Programs. “A new vehicle is a major financial investment for many families. By taking steps to be an educated and informed buyer, you can avoid having to replace your vehicle sooner than expected.”

Crossover or Sport Utility Vehicles

Toyota Highlander: Available in various drivetrains that include a four-cylinder, V-6, and gasoline-electric hybrid, the Highlander delivers a large interior with a tight yet child-friendly, third row. The ride is quiet and comfortable and fuel economy with either the four-cylinder or hybrid drivetrain is very good for the class. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Toyota Highlander is $34,955, 6.15 percent less than the MSRP*.

Subaru Outback: Standard all-wheel drive and a capable four-cylinder engine working through a continuously variable automatic transmission set the Outback apart from its competition. In this case, the differences add to the Outback’s appeal. Performance is good, while fuel economy can be very good for the class. Although seating is limited to five, the back seat passengers enjoy a roomy interior while the cargo area easily stores the items growing families often carry. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Subaru Outback is $28,021, 7.87 percent less than the MSRP*.

Chevrolet Equinox: A family crossover that rides nicely, handles well and has a generous rear seat that is perfect for growing teens and young adults. The four-cylinder engine is adequate; the V-6 is livelier but is nearly 20 percent less fuel efficient in AAA testing. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox is $27,793, 1.78 percent less than the MSRP*.

Mazda5: Mirroring a compact wagon rather than a true crossover, the Mazda5 packs a great deal of practicality into a small footprint. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is not the most powerful and that can be apparent in hilly terrain or when carrying a heavy load but, it is surprisingly economical and its around town performance is more than adequate. Handling is very good; the Mazda5 is fun to drive, though noise levels are higher than average. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Mazda5 is $22,047, 2.38 percent less than the MSRP*.

Honda CR-V: “Practical” and “levelheaded” easily describe this crossover utility vehicle. The four-cylinder engine delivers more than enough power, along with respectable fuel economy. The passenger cabin is roomy for the compact crossover field and the cargo area in the five-passenger CR-V can hold a wide range of family items. The ride is comfortable. Rear visibility is aided by the standard backup camera. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Honda CR-V is $26,340, 3.12 percent less than the MSRP*.

Dodge Durango: Offered with either a V-6 or V-8, the Durango has more room than the Jeep Grand Cherokee on which it is based. The stretch in both wheelbase and overall length have not diminished this vehicle’s ride, its silence on the highway or towing capacity. Third-row seating has plenty of room. While the price can quickly rise, opting for the lower, yet still well-equipped SXT or Crew trim lines will help keep the price in line. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Dodge Durango is $36,567, 4.37 percent less than the MSRP*.

Sedans

Honda Accord: This mid-size sedan has long been a favorite of families. Its four-cylinder engine is powerful and economical, the handling is very good and fuel economy could encourage longer family road trips. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Honda Accord is $25,322, 5.21 percent less than the MSRP*.

Ford Taurus: A smooth and quiet highway ride, roomy passenger cabin and impressive trunk room all suggest the Taurus was designed with family use in mind. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Ford Taurus is $33,098, 4.90 percent less than the MSRP*.

Hyundai Sonata: A low price in no way diminishes this model’s performance. The 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine delivers adequate power and very good fuel economy. The ride is pleasing and handling is good. The warranty is generous, too. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Hyundai Sonata is $24,023, 4.09 percent less than the MSRP*.

Minivans

Honda Odyssey: The Odyssey is roomy, rides comfortably, features supportive seats and has a first-class drivetrain. Child entertainment options include an optional built-in DVD system. Handling is good and maneuvering this relatively large minivan in tight parking lots is easier than one might imagine. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Honda Odyssey is $32,447, 11.44 percent less than the MSRP*.

Chrysler Town & Country: This minivan offers a quiet and composed ride and a smooth and powerful V-6 engine. It stands out for its interior flexibility. The “Stow-n-Go” package allows quick and easy conversion from passenger to cargo hauling duties as both second and third row seats stow easily into wells located in the floor. When the seats are raised and in use, those wells provide additional storage. Unfortunately, these folding seats fall short on comfort. Nonetheless, this flexibility and frequent retail discounts make the Town & Country attractive. Adding to its appeal are the many safety features that are available. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Chrysler Town & Country is $32,925, 4.11 percent less than the MSRP*.

AAA Auto Buying experts test drive and evaluate hundreds of vehicles each year. AAA provides free vehicle reviews, localized pricing information and more online at AAA.com/AutoMaker. Additional information on AAA Auto Buying is available at AAA.com/AutoBuying.  The AAA Auto Buying Tools App is available here to access information on the go.

TrueCar, Inc. is the AAA preferred supplier for new car pricing information for the motor club. TrueCar is an online automotive information and communications platform focused on creating a better car buying experience for dealers and consumers. Consumers want a hassle-free car buying experience and dealers want high-quality sales velocity. TrueCar helps achieve these goals by providing unbiased market information on new and used car transactions and by supplying an online communications platform through which dealers and consumers can communicate with each other. TrueCar’s market-based information provides both consumers and dealers with an accurate and comprehensive understanding of what others actually paid recently for similar vehicles, both locally and nationally.  If you are in the market for a new vehicle, you can configure a virtual vehicle with the specifications you want, see the Estimated or Target Price for that vehicle in your area, and then connect directly with local TrueCar Certified Dealers at AAA.com/AutoMaker.  Once you submit a request, TrueCar Certified Dealer representatives will get in touch with you to discuss vehicles in their inventory.

*The Average Paid price is a proprietary mathematical calculation based on actual recent anonymized transaction information in your regional area, and includes destination and delivery charges after incentives that are subject to change, but does not include tax, title, licensing, documentation or processing fees, other state and governmental charges and/or fees, or any other charges or fees allowed by law. Your actual savings may vary based on multiple factors including the vehicle you select, region, dealer, and applicable manufacturer incentives. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is determined by the manufacturer, and may not reflect the price at which vehicles are generally sold in the dealer¹s trade area as not all vehicles are sold at MSRP. Each dealer sets its own pricing. Your actual purchase price is negotiated between you and the dealer.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 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.

 

Ginnie PritchettAAA alerts drivers that extreme summer heat can push vehicles to limits if not properly maintained

Additional Resources

ORLANDO, Fla., (July 25, 2013) – With temperatures soaring to record highs around the country, AAA cautions motorists not to underestimate the ways in which extreme heat can wreak havoc on vehicles.  With an estimated eight million automobiles in need of AAA’s roadside assistance this summer, heat will take its toll on vehicles and their occupants.

“Prolonged exposure to high temperatures is not only a threat to passengers, but a vehicle concern as well,” said John Nielsen, AAA Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Knowing the dangers and preparing your vehicle for extreme heat can help keep your vehicle running smoothly during the hot summer months.”

To keep your vehicle running smoothly this summer AAA recommends motorists address the following common heat-related car problems:

Over-Heating Engine

Automobile engines work extra hard in the summer, and it is the cooling system’s job to protect the engine from overheating. In addition, additives in the coolant protect the radiator and internal engine components against wear and corrosion. Without proper cooling system maintenance, the odds of long term engine damage, and a summer time boil over, definitely increase.

Over time, engine coolant becomes contaminated and its protective additives are depleted. That’s why the system should be flushed and the coolant replaced periodically as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Older coolants required changing every two years or 24,000 miles, but most modern formulations are good for at least five years and 50,000 miles, and many do not require replacement until approximately 100,000 miles. See the owner’s manual or maintenance booklet to determine the service interval appropriate for a vehicle.

Between flushes, make sure the coolant is filled to the proper levels by checking the overflow reservoir. If necessary, top off the reservoir with a 50/50 mix of water and the coolant type specified by the vehicle manufacturer. CAUTION! – Never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot – boiling coolant under pressure could cause serious burns.

Other fluids help keep vehicles running cool as well. Most vehicle fluids don’t just lubricate, they also serve as coolants by helping carry heat away from critical components. When fluid levels are low, this cooling effect is reduced, and the possibility of overheating increases. Drivers to should check all vehicle fluids including motor oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid to ensure they are filled to the appropriate levels. If any fluids need to be topped off, be sure to use the type of fluid specified in the owner’s manual.

Battery Failure Due to Heat and Vibration

Heat and vibration are a battery’s two worst enemies, leading to internal breakdown and eventual failure. While drivers cannot do much about the heat, they can make sure their battery is securely mounted in place to minimize vibration.

If a car’s battery is more than three years old, it’s a good idea to have it tested by a trained technician to determine how much longer it will last. This test can be performed at any AAA Approved Auto Repair facility, or AAA members can request a AAA Mobile Battery Service technician come to them and test their battery free of charge. Should the battery need replacement, the technician can usually replace it immediately on location. For more information on the AAA Mobile Battery Service visit AAA.com/Battery.

Blown Tire

Driving on under-inflated tires not only affects the handling and braking of a vehicle, it also can cause tires to overheat and increase the likelihood of a blowout. This problem becomes even more of a concern when road temperatures are extremely high.

Tires should be checked when the car has not been driven recently, and they should be inflated to the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer—not the number molded into the tire sidewall. Recommended tire pressures can be found in the owner’s manual or on a tire information sticker normally located on the driver’s door jamb. Drivers also should inspect the tire treads for adequate depth and any signs of uneven wear that might indicate a suspension or alignment problem.

Air Conditioning Failure

During extreme summer heat, a properly operating air conditioning system can be more than just a pleasant convenience. If a car’s air conditioning is not maintaining the interior temperature as well as it did in the past, it may mean the refrigerant level is low or there is another problem. Have the air conditioning system checked by a certified technician.

Many automotive climate control systems today are equipped with a cabin filter that prevents outside debris from entering. If present, this filter should be inspected and replaced as needed to ensure maximum airflow and cooling during the summer months.

If you think your vehicle is experiencing problems due to the extreme summer heat, have it checked out by a trained automotive technician. The AAA Approved Auto Repair program is a free public service that helps motorists identify high-quality auto repair facilities they can trust to work on their vehicle. AAA Approved Auto Repair shops must meet stringent professional standards and maintain an ongoing customer satisfaction rating of 90 percent or better. To locate a nearby AAA-approved repair shop visit AAA.com/Repair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 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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