July 20th, 2016 by Jessica Souto
ORLANDO, Fla. (July 20, 2016) – Despite advances in vehicle technology, including maintenance reminders and other dashboard alerts designed to mitigate roadside trouble, AAA rescued a record-breaking 32 million drivers in 2015, with more battery, flat tire and key problems than ever before, a new study shows. Vehicles fewer than five years old in particular experienced a higher proportion of tire and key-related issues than older vehicles, suggesting that the trend toward eliminating the spare tire and moving to electronic keyless ignitions may have unintended consequences.
“Vehicles today are advanced more than ever, yet are still vulnerable to breakdowns,” said Cliff Ruud, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Solutions. “Sleek, low profile tires are highly susceptible to damage, electronic keyless ignitions can zap battery life and despite advanced warning systems, more than half a million drivers ran out of gas last year.”
Owners of new vehicles may be unaware that some new vehicle designs and features may leave them vulnerable at the roadside. To reduce vehicle weight and boost fuel economy, spare tires are being eliminated from new vehicles at alarming rates, and are being replaced with tire inflator kits that can only remedy some flat tire situations. Additionally, new keyless ignition systems can drain the battery life when keys are stored too close to the vehicle and can lock a driver out of the vehicle while the engine is still running. Finally, despite nearly all new vehicles being equipped with low fuel warning alerts and range estimations, a higher proportion of drivers are using these systems to push the limits between fuel ups.
Other key findings from an analysis of AAA’s 2015 roadside assistance data include:
- Battery failures, flat tires and keys locked inside the vehicle remain the top roadside assistance requests.
- Vehicles fewer than five years old have a higher proportion of tire, key and fuel-related issues than older vehicles. Due in part to complex, electronic vehicle designs, one-in-five service calls for a newer vehicle required a tow to a repair facility.
- Vehicles between 6 and 10 years old have the highest proportion of battery-related issues, as most batteries have a three- to five-year life.
- Roadside assistance calls peak in the summer (8.3 million) followed by winter (8.1 million), fall (7.8 million) and spring (7.7 million).
- Drivers are most likely to request roadside assistance on Mondays and least likely to request assistance on Sundays.
- Drivers in the West experienced the most breakdowns, followed by the South, the Northeast and the Midwest.
- Despite advances in key technology, AAA came to the rescue of more than four million drivers locked out of their vehicles.
“Drivers today have increasingly-connected lifestyles, and want reliable, flexible service options when trouble strikes,” continued Ruud. “AAA has responded with flexible roadside assistance offerings nationwide including app-based service requests and the ability to track assigned service vehicles in real time on a smartphone.”
To help prevent millions of roadside breakdowns from happening, AAA offers the following recommendations for common roadside problems:
- Check for a spare tire: Before purchasing a car, check that the vehicle includes a spare tire. If it doesn’t, consider adding one as an option. Tire inflator kits — which have replaced spare tires on tens of millions of vehicles –cannot remedy all types of tire damage.
- Check tires: At least once a month, check the tire pressure to ensure proper inflation. This affects tire wear and vehicle handling. Tires should be rotated based on the manufacturer’s recommended schedule for the vehicle.
- Lockouts: AAA recommends motorists take special care of their “smart keys” and keyless entry fobs. Always take keys when exiting the car, avoid exposing keyless-entry remote or smart keys to water and always replace the key or fob battery when recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
- Battery: AAA recommends that drivers have their vehicle’s battery tested when it reaches three years of age and on an annual basis thereafter. AAA’s Mobile Battery Service offers free battery testing for AAA members.
- Pack an emergency kit: A recent AAA survey shows that more than 40 percent of motorists do not carry an emergency kit in their vehicle. AAA recommends that every driver have a well-stocked emergency kit, which includes a mobile phone and car charger; a flashlight with extra batteries; a first-aid kit; drinking water; extra snacks/food for your travelers and any pets; battery booster cables; and emergency flares or reflectors.
Before hitting the road, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad, Android and Apple Watch. Travelers can use the app to request AAA roadside assistance, route a trip, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, book a hotel and more. In addition, AAA members can also track in real time the location of their assigned vehicle with Service Tracker. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.
July 17th, 2013 by AAA
ORLANDO, Fla., (July 17, 2013) – Nearly 22 million students will head to college this fall. However, while many parents prepare their teens with instructions about personal safety, laundry and cooking, they sometimes forget to address the important subject of automobile maintenance and repair before sending their young adult off to college with a vehicle.
“Frequently, a teenager’s vehicle is maintained by parents while living at home, and lessons on proper car care are only briefly discussed and seldom utilized,” said John Nielsen, director of AAA Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Before hitting the road, it is vital that your college student fully understands how to independently take care of their vehicle.”
Before sending a son or daughter off to college with an automobile, AAA encourages parents to sit down with the child and discuss a plan for proper vehicle maintenance, as well as how to deal with unexpected problems when parental rescue is more than just a few minutes away.
Check and Maintain Tires
Tires are one of the easiest components of a vehicle to maintain, but they are frequently overlooked until something goes wrong. Every student should have a tire pressure gauge in their vehicle, know where it is located, and understand how to use it properly. . While there are a variety of tire pressure gauges, those with electronic readouts might be the easiest for the teen to use. Explain that tires should be checked at least once a month when the tires are cold.
Show your young adult where to find the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure – typically on a label located on the driver’s door jamb or in the glove box. It is important to let them know they should not use the inflation pressure found on the tire sidewall. That is the tire’s maximum pressure level, but it might not be the correct pressure for the tire when used on their particular vehicle.
To demonstrate proper tire care, AAA offers a number of short videos that can be viewed on the AAA YouTube channel. These videos can be easily saved and sent as reminders to your child to take a few minutes and check their tires.
Know the Vehicle’s Maintenance Schedule
Performing the manufacturer’s regularly scheduled maintenance on a vehicle will greatly extend its life and help ward off more costly repairs down the road. While it’s a good idea to make sure your student’s car is current with all maintenance items prior to sending them off to college, it’s possible some items will be due while they are away.
Sit down and go over the owner’s manual with your son or daughter. Explain the recommended maintenance schedule and remind them that in addition to basic oil changes other important items such as filters, batteries and brakes must also be regularly checked and maintained. AAA recommends that parents and teens create a shared calendar with reminders so both are aware of any upcoming required maintenance or services.
The school year spans the winter months when inclement weather can place added demands on vehicle electrical systems. The average lifespan of a car battery is three to five years, so AAA recommends that any battery in this age range be checked before the student leaves for school. In many areas, the AAA Mobile Battery Service will come to a member’s home and provide this service at no charge.
Find a Repair Facility Near College
It is important for parents to help teens identify an auto repair shop they can trust near their school in case routine servicing or unexpected repairs become necessary.
If unfamiliar with the area around a college, visit AAA.com/Repair to locate nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities. As a free public service for all motorists, AAA inspects auto repair shops around the country and only approves those that meet and continually maintain high professional standards for equipment, customer service, cleanliness and training.
When first arriving at the college, AAA recommends parents and students visit the selected repair shop and meet the staff. Ask for some shop business cards that you and your teen can keep handy in case an emergency arises.
Prepare for Roadside Emergencies
It is also important for parents to prepare their children for a breakdown or other roadside emergency – especially if they are attending college too far away to ‘call home’ for help.
Make sure the teen’s vehicle has a well-stocked roadside emergency kit with contents suitable for local weather conditions during the school year. A basic kit should include a flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, first-aid kit, bottled water, rags or paper towels, a tire pressure gauge, a blanket, granola or energy bars, and a selection of basic hand tools. In areas with winter ice and snow, add an ice scraper, snow brush and kitty litter or other material to increase traction if stuck in snow.
For added peace of mind, provide the teen membership in a motor club such as AAA that offers reliable roadside assistance through a large dedicated network of service providers with good coverage in and around the college. Remember, AAA’s many benefits are available to members no matter whose vehicle in they are in, so parents won’t have to worry about their teen being stranded in a friend’s vehicle with no access to emergency road service.
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.