Posts Tagged ‘Winter Driving’

Average new vehicle will cost nearly $8,500 annually to own and operate

ORLANDO, Fla. (August 23, 2017) – Owning and operating a new vehicle in 2017 will cost a driver an average of $8,469 annually, or $706 each month, according to a new study from AAA. The annual evaluation of driving costs reveals that small sedans are the least expensive vehicles to drive at $6,354 annually, however small SUVs ($7,606), hybrids ($7,687) and electric vehicles ($8,439) all offer lower-than-average driving costs to U.S. drivers. Conversely, of the nine categories included in the evaluation, pickup trucks are the most expensive vehicles to drive at $10,054 annually.

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“Determining the cost of a new vehicle car is more than calculating a monthly payment,” cautioned John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “While sales price is certainly a factor, depreciation, maintenance, repair and fuel costs should be equally important considerations for anyone in the market for a new vehicle.”

In addition to analyzing the ownership costs for sedans, SUVs and minivans, AAA’s Your Driving Costs study added four new vehicle segments in 2017 – small SUVs, pickup trucks, hybrids and electric vehicles.

Vehicle Type Annual Cost*   Vehicle Type Annual Cost*
Small Sedan $6,354   Minivan $9,146
Small SUV $7,606   Large Sedan $9,399
Hybrid $7,687   Medium SUV $9,451
Medium Sedan $8,171   Pickup Truck $10,054
Electric Vehicle $8,439   Average $8,469

*Based on 15,000 miles driven annually

To estimate the overall cost to own and operate a new vehicle, AAA evaluated 45 2017 model-year vehicles across nine categories and focused on mid-range, top-selling vehicles. AAA’s annual driving cost is based on a sales-weighted average of the individual costs for all of the vehicle types. Key findings include:

Depreciation

Depreciation — the declining value of a vehicle over time — is the biggest, and most often overlooked, expense associated with purchasing a new car. New vehicles lose an average of $15,000 in value during the first five years of ownership. In 2017, small sedans ($2,114) and small SUVs ($2,840) have the lowest annual depreciation costs, while minivans ($3,839) and electric vehicles ($5,704) are at the high end of the scale.

Maintenance and repair

To calculate annual maintenance and repair costs, AAA examined factory-recommended maintenance, replacement tires, extended warranty costs and services associated with typical wear-and-tear. New vehicles, on average, will cost a driver $1,186 per year to maintain and repair.

The inevitable costs associated with maintenance and repair should be an important consideration for car shoppers, as a recent AAA survey found that one-third of U.S. drivers could not afford an unexpected repair bill. AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities offer free vehicle inspections, AAA member discounts and a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty for AAA members. Visit AAA.com/AutoRepair to find a nearby facility.

Fuel

Fuel costs vary significantly by vehicle type, ranging from 3.68 cents per mile (electric vehicles) to 13.88 cents per mile (pickup trucks). New vehicle owners, on average, will spend just over 10 cents per mile – about $1,500 annually — to fuel their vehicles.

For gasoline-powered vehicles, AAA recommends selecting a TOP TIER gasoline, as its independent research found it to keep engines 19 times cleaner, improving vehicle performance and fuel economy. AAA cautions drivers that using premium-grade gasoline in a vehicle that does not specifically require it is an unnecessary expense.

Electric Vehicles

New to the Your Driving Costs study in 2017, AAA found that electric vehicles have lower-than-average driving costs at $8,439 per year. Without a gasoline engine to maintain, electric vehicles have the lowest annual maintenance and repair costs, at $982 per year. By relying on electricity instead of gasoline, fuel costs are also significantly lower than average, at under four cents per mile. Depreciation, however, is currently extremely high for these vehicles, losing an average of nearly $6,000 in value every year.

A recent AAA survey revealed that 1-in-6 Americans are likely to choose an electric vehicle, the majority motivated by their lower long-term ownership costs.

“Although electric vehicles can have higher up-front costs, lower fuel and maintenance costs make them a surprisingly affordable choice in the long run,” said Nielsen. “For even lower costs, car shoppers can avoid high depreciation costs by selecting a used electric vehicle.”

With a focus on the future, the AAA Green Car Guide offers ratings of electric, hybrid, compressed natural gas‐powered (CNG), diesel and other high fuel economy vehicles. Visit AAA.com/greencar for more.

AAA’s Your Driving Costs study employs a proprietary methodology to analyze the costs of owning and operating a new vehicle in the United States, using data from a variety of sources, including Vincentric LLC. Additional information and detailed driving costs, including insurance costs, finances charges, registration/license fees, taxes and finance charges can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com or AAA.com/YourDrivingCosts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Green Contact TileBad Weather a Factor in More than 2,000 Road Deaths Every Winter According to New Research

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 21, 2016) – Dangerous winter storms and bad weather are a factor in nearly half a million crashes and more than two thousand road deaths every winter, according to the latest research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. As a potentially historic winter storm approaches the East Coast this weekend, AAA is urging motorists to be prepared and to remain cautious if driving.

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“There are a disproportionate number of crashes this time of year involving bad weather and winter storms,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Snow and sleet can cause significant safety problems by reducing visibility and making it difficult to maneuver or stop.”

About 46 percent of crashes involving bad weather take place in the winter, making this the worst time of year for driving in treacherous conditions. The highest proportion of crashes involving bad weather happen overnight from 6:00 PM until 5:59 AM, when visibility is limited and roads are most likely to freeze. Previous research also has found that the rates of fatal crashes are higher during the first snowfall of the year than on subsequent days with snow.

“This weekend’s winter storm has great potential to create havoc on major roads used by millions of drivers every day,” said William Van Tassel, AAA’s manager of driver training programs. “Drivers braving the bad weather should remain cautious and slow down to keep from being in a crash.”

The new AAA Foundation research report (Motor Vehicle Crashes, Injuries and Deaths in Relation to Weather Conditions), analyzed bad weather and crashes throughout the year. The study found that rain, snow, sleet and fog are a factor in more than 1.1 million police-reported crashes, 425,000 injuries and 5,100 traffic deaths per year. The average crash data for various types of bad weather includes:

Crashes Injuries Deaths
Rain 518,303 206,474 2,239
Snow 189,416 51,267 523
Sleet 36,491 11,644 143
Fog 21,616 8,167 374

 

The study did uncover surprising news. Crashes in bad weather are generally less severe than crashes taking place in clear weather. For example, crashes that occur on snow-covered roads result in 31 percent fewer injuries per crash and 47 percent fewer fatalities per crash than on dry roads. While the new study was unable to examine the impact of bad weather on the risk of being involved in a crash in the first place, other studies have found that rates of all types of crashes generally increase in bad weather, but that the increases in minor crashes are larger than the increases in more severe crashes.

AAA recommends the following eight tips to remain safe while driving in snowy and icy conditions:

  • Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate.
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning –  give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry and take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  • Increase your following distance to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill slowly.
  • Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.

Far too many drivers become stranded on the roadside this time of year. AAA handles an average of 600,000 emergency roadside assistance calls per week in the winter with the most common problems being dead batteries, extractions, towing and flat tires. AAA recommends keeping the following items in your “emergency kit” for winter driving:

  • Bag of abrasive materials such as sand, salt or cat litter for gaining traction in snow and ice
  • Snow shovel
  • Flashlight
  • Gloves or mittens
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Jumper cables
  • Blanket
  • Warning flare or triangles
  • Cellular phone and emergency charger
  • Food and water
  • First aid kit

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 300 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.

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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Erin SteppFueled 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.

Ginnie PritchettAs summer travel revs up, nation’s largest motor club cautions drivers of dangers on the open road if not properly prepared

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 29, 2013) – More than 31 million Americans kicked off the summer travel season with a road trip Memorial Day weekend, but plans were damped for approximately a quarter of a million motorists that AAA  needed to rescue at the roadside.  AAA expects between the major summer holidays of Memorial Day and Labor Day to aid over eight million motorists, and cautions drivers that auto maintenance is key to avoiding summertime travel breakdowns.

“The best way to avoid a breakdown during a trip is to ensure your car is properly maintained before hitting the road,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “But unexpected breakdowns can still occur so for your safety and security, and that of your passengers, be sure to have access to a roadside assistance provider like AAA.”

AAA recommends that motorists perform the following maintenance tasks before hitting the road. An acronym of S.A.F.E.T.R.I.P. is used to help motorists remember these essential tasks.

Service your Battery

AAA will assist nearly 1.6 million motorists with dead batteries during the summer driving season—replacing more than 500,000 batteries at the roadside. Summer heat breaks down car batteries internally and accelerates the rate of corrosion on the terminals. Both conditions can lead to insufficient electrical power being available and leave a motorist stranded without warning. Depending on local climate and vehicle usage patterns, most car batteries have a three to five year service life. If your battery is more than three years old, have it tested by a professional technician to help avoid unexpected trouble.

Air Conditioning Check
A vehicle without air conditioning can be a hot and uncomfortable environment for travelers during the summer months. Automotive air conditioning systems do not require routine maintenance, but a system that is operating marginally is more likely to fail in hot weather. If you have noticed a decrease in cooling capability, have your air conditioning system examined by a qualified technician before setting out on a trip.

Fluids for Windshield Washer/Wipers

Rain, insects, grime and other debris on a windshield will compromise the driver’s vision and safety. The life of a rubber wiper insert is typically six to 12 months depending on its exposure to heat, dirt, sunlight and rain. If your wipers leave streaks or cannot clear the windshield in one swipe they should be replaced. Also, check the windshield washer fluid level and top it off with a solution formulated to aid in the removal of insects and other debris. Be sure to test the washer spray nozzles for proper operation and aim before leaving on a trip.

Emergency Roadside Kit

While preventative measures go a long way toward minimizing breakdowns, unexpected vehicle problems can still arise. AAA encourages motorists to update their emergency roadside kit every season. The kit should include 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.

Tire Inflation and Condition

“Roughly one million drivers will call AAA for help with a flat tire during the summer travel season, and many of those problems could be avoided with a quick tire inspection,” said Nielsen. “Begin every tire inspection with a pressure check when the tires are cold and the car has not been driven recently.” Use a quality gauge to make sure all five tires are inflated to the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer—this can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker usually attached to the driver’s door jamb, or sometimes inside the gas cap door. Properly inflated tires increase safety and fuel economy, which will reduce fuel costs during a trip. Finally, inspect the tread depth and overall condition of the tires. Worn tires in need of replacement are much more likely to suffer punctures and other problems.

Regular Maintenance

This summer, AAA will remedy over half of motorists’ car problems at the roadside and get them back on the go. However, an estimated 3.5 million drivers will suffer more significant troubles and need towing to a place of repair. If it’s almost time for scheduled maintenance, have your car serviced before a trip. If it has been some time since the vehicle last saw the inside of a repair shop, consider having it thoroughly inspected by a qualified technician who can identify potential problems before they put a damper on any travel plans.

Inspect under the Hood: Belts, Hoses and Fluids

Replace accessory drive belts that are cracked, glazed or frayed, as well as coolant hoses that are visibly worn, brittle, bulging or excessively soft. Check for leaks around hose clamps and at the radiator and water pump. Check the engine coolant level, along with that of other important under hood fluids such as the engine oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid and power steering fluid. A low fluid level could indicate a leak or other problem that should be checked out by a professional technician.

Prepare and Plan Ahead
Part of the fun of taking a road trip is planning it. Chart out driving routes and, when possible, reserve your accommodations in advance. Be prepared for busy roads during the popular travel times   and, if possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid traffic. For increased safety, assign a passenger as the designated texter/caller to avoid distracted driving. AAA recommends drivers allow plenty of time to reach their destinations, and stop in a safe location every 100 miles or two hours to avoid drowsy or fatigued driving.

If any part of the road trip vehicle preparation process seems overwhelming, AAA can help consumers identify quality auto repair shops to assist in the maintenance and repair of their vehicles. AAA offers the Approved Auto Repair program as a free public service. Repair facilities approved by AAA meet and maintain stringent standards for training, equipment, cleanliness and customer service. Motorists can look for the Approved Auto Repair sign at local shops, or search for a nearby AAA-approved shops online at 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.

Erin SteppIncrease in maintenance, insurance and fuel drive up average cost for sedans to $9,122 yearly, 60.8 cents per mile

ORLANDO, Fla., (April 16, 2013) – AAA released the results of its annual ‘Your Driving Costs’ study today, revealing a 1.96 percent increase in the cost to own and operate a sedan in the U.S. The average cost rose 1.17 cents to 60.8 cents per mile, or $9,122 per year, based upon 15,000 miles of annual driving.

“Many factors go into the cost calculation of owning and operating a vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “This year, changes in maintenance, fuel and insurance costs resulted in the increase to just over 60 cents a mile.”

The findings of the 2013 ‘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

61.0 cents

75.0 cents

60.8 cents

77.3 cents

65.3 cents

Cost Per Year

$6,967

$9,151

$11,248

$9,122

$11,599

$9,795

Additional Resources

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 in the additional resources bar.

Nielsen continued, “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.

Maintenance Costs Up 11.26 Percent

The costs associated with maintaining a vehicle had the single largest percentage increase from 2012 to 2013, growing by 11.26 percent to 4.97 cents 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.  Driving the increase in maintenance costs is significant increases in labor and part costs for some models and a major increase in the price of extended warranty policies due to high loss ratios by underwriters.

Fuel Costs Up 1.93 Percent

Gasoline prices were relatively stable compared to the prior year, leading to a minimal fuel cost increase of 1.93 percent to 14.45 cents per mile on average for sedan owners. The average cost of regular grade fuel (used by most of the study vehicles) actually rose 3.84 percent, from $3.357 to $3.486 per gallon. However, several vehicles in the ‘Your Driving Costs’ study had small improvements in their fuel economy ratings which partially offset the fuel cost increase. Fuel costs in the 2013 study were calculated using the national average price for regular, unleaded gasoline during the fourth quarter of 2012.

Tire Costs Remain Unchanged
The cost of tires did not change from 2012 to 2013, remaining at one cent per mile on average for sedan owners. The stable price is attributed to a leveling off of past increased costs for raw materials, energy and transportation from factories to distributors across the country.

Insurance Costs Up 2.76 Percent

Average insurance costs for sedans rose 2.76 percent (or $28) to $1029 annually. 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. Quotes from five AAA clubs and insurance companies representing seven states showed across-the-board modest increases for all sedan sizes, with large cars having less of an increase than small- and medium-size sedans.

Depreciation Costs Rise .78 Percent

After seeing a drop in 2012, depreciation costs were up slightly in 2013, increasing .78 percent to $3,571 a year. This change may be a consequence of recovering new vehicle sales, resulting in more used cars available in the marketplace and thus the softening of the resale value of clean older models.

63rd 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 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.

As part of AAA Car Care Month, motor club offers tips for a better experience with your repair shop

ORLANDO, Fla., (October 18, 2012) – A trip to the auto repair shop can be intimidating if you don’t know much about your vehicle or have had a negative experience in the past. However, AAA says a trip to the repair shop can be much easier—and less stressful—if you select a quality facility and do a little preparation before going in for a visit.

Additional Resources

 

 

When taking a car to a shop for maintenance or repair, AAA recommends motorists do the following:

  • Write down notes on the vehicle’s symptoms and performance beforehand so important information is not overlooked or forgotten. Include all of your observations, even if they seem silly or irrelevant.
  • Describe the symptoms to the technician rather than suggesting solutions. Explain what has been seen, smelled, heard and felt while driving the vehicle. For example, does it vibrate or pull to the left? Explain under what type of driving conditions the problem takes place and how long ago it started.
  • Try to be precise. For example, “a rattle under the hood starts at 40 mph” or “the smell occurs only on cold days after the engine has been running for 10 minutes.”
  • When describing symptoms, refer to the driver or passenger side of the vehicle rather than the right or left side.
  • Resist the temptation to use technical jargon unless you are absolutely sure what it means. Explain what is being experienced in terms that minimize the possibly of misinterpretation or misdiagnosis.
  • If the vehicle has been serviced recently, bring copies of the previous repair orders rather than trying to explain what work was done.

There also are some things motorists can do to help protect themselves from unexpected charges or unneeded repairs. AAA recommends that motorists:

  • Read the repair order before authorizing any work. Look for specific instructions outlining what the technician is supposed to do. If there is vague language, such as ‘fix engine noise,’ ask that the repair order be rewritten. If you want to see the parts that will be replaced, be sure to let the shop know before work begins so they can set them aside for you.
  • Ask questions if terms used are not easily understood or something is not clearly explained. A quality repair shop should be willing to take the time necessary to clearly explain the work to be done in advance of the repair. If the service advisor is unable to satisfactorily explain a job, or suggests the repair is too complicated to explain, get a second opinion from another shop.
  • When picking up the car, read over the bill and question any charges that are not clear. Insist on descriptions of parts, not just the part numbers, on the final invoice.

Finding a quality auto repair shop that can be trusted is key to a good auto repair experience. To assist motorists in their quest, AAA offers a free public service where it inspects and certifies auto repair facilities. AAA Approved Auto Repair shops must meet and maintain stringent quality standards for customer service, training, equipment and cleanliness. There are nearly 8,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. They can be located online at 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.

AAA Car Care Month study finds vehicle maintenance habits evolve in response to in-car reminder systems

ORLANDO,Fla., (October 10, 2012) – AAA has always advised motorists to follow automobile manufacturers’ recommended maintenance schedules to improve the reliability and longevity of their vehicles. Today, most new automobiles have some form of in-car maintenance reminder system, and motorists are evolving to the new technologies seen in car care. According to a recent survey completed by AAA to gain perspective into motorists’ vehicle maintenance habits, 63 percent of all motorists say they have a built-in electronic maintenance reminder system. Of these, 51 percent of rely solely on their in-car reminder system and have maintenance work done only when the system recommends.

Additional Resources

“The advancements in modern maintenance reminder systems take the guess work out of deciding when to take your vehicle in for service,” said John Nielsen, director of AAA Automotive Engineering and Repair. “The challenge now is educating consumers to trust that their vehicle will alert them when maintenance is needed.”

Below are some key findings from a recent AAA Car Care Month study on vehicle owners’ automotive maintenance habits:

  • Six out of ten motorists’ (63 percent) have vehicles with a built-in electronic maintenance reminder system, not a window sticker, that alerts them when it is time to change the engine oil or have other maintenance work performed.
  • Five out of ten of these motorists (51 percent) rely solely on the reminder system and have maintenance work done only when the system reminds them to do so.
  • Thirty-five percent (35 percent) of respondents perform maintenance work more frequently than recommended by the reminder system and 13 percent do so less frequently.

To help motorists get the most out of their vehicles, and reduce maintenance-related problems in the future, AAA advises that motorists with in-car reminder systems should:

  • Become educated on what each maintenance alert means. The vehicle owner’s manual and/or maintenance booklet can help decipher alerts and identify required actions.
  • Do not ignore the maintenance reminder system. Perform necessary maintenance when prompted by your vehicle. Ignoring alerts can increase wear and potentially cause long-term damage due to unaddressed maintenance or service issues.

If a vehicle is not equipped with a maintenance reminder system, the owner should:

  • Become educated on their vehicle’s recommended maintenance schedule as described in the vehicle owner’s manual and/or maintenance booklet.
  • Maintain their vehicle in accordance with the normal or severe-service maintenance schedule, as appropriate for their driving habits.

To demonstrate that all required work has been done to maintain warranty coverage, motorists should keep complete maintenance and repair records for reference should a warranty issue arise.

Whether you have an electronic in-car maintenance reminder system that alerts you when to perform routine service, or keep track of maintenance with a traditional time/mileage schedule, consider using a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop for all your maintenance and repair needs. AAA has inspected and certified nearly 8,000 repair shops across North America as a free public service for motorists. AAA Approved Auto Repair shops can be identified by the AAA Approved Auto Repair sign, or by searching online at 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.

The nation’s largest motor club reminds drivers that October is AAA Car Care Month, an ideal time for a seasonal vehicle checkup to ensure worry-free driving

ORLANDO, Fla., (October 2, 2012) – With more than 18 million AAA roadside assistance calls  recorded January through August 2012 for the U.S. and Canada, AAA reminds motorists that cars need periodic checkups to maintain safety and maximize efficiency.

“Whether you’re expecting cooler temperatures, snow, rain or simply a little less sunshine, regular maintenance and seasonal checkups can help prevent unexpected repair costs in the future,” said John Nielsen, director, AAA Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Properly preparing your vehicle for the next season of driving is essential for the safety of all passengers and will greatly decrease the chances of your vehicle letting you down.”

Additional Resources

AAA recommends that motorists use a simple checklist to determine their vehicle’s fall and winter maintenance needs. Many of the items on the list can be inspected by a car owner in less than an hour, but others should be performed by a certified technician.

Motorists can identify reliable, high-quality repair shops with certified technicians by looking for the AAA Approved Auto Repair sign. These facilities must meet and maintain high professional standards for customer service, technician training, tools, equipment, warranties and cleanliness. Nearby shops can be located at AAA.com/repair.

Winter Car Care Checklist

Battery and Charging System – Have the battery and charging system tested by a trained technician. A fully charged battery in good condition is required to start an engine in cold weather. AAA members can request a visit from a AAA Mobile Battery Service technician who will test their battery and replace it on-site, if necessary. AAA Approved Auto Repair shops can also test and replace weak batteries.

Battery Cables and Terminals – Make sure the battery terminals and cable ends are free from corrosion and the connections are tight.

Drive Belts – Inspect the underside of accessory drive belts for cracks or fraying. Many newer multi-rib “serpentine” belts are made of materials that do not show obvious signs of wear; replace these belts at 60,000-mile intervals.

Engine Hoses – Inspect cooling system hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps. Also, squeeze the hoses and replace any that are brittle or excessively spongy feeling.

Tire Type and Tread – In areas with heavy winter weather, installing snow tires on all four wheels will provide the best winter traction. All-season tires work well in light-to -moderate snow conditions provided they have adequate tread depth. Replace any tire that has less than 3/32-inches of tread. Uneven tire wear can indicate alignment, wheel balance or suspension problems that must be addressed to prevent further tire damage.

Tire Pressure – Check tire inflation pressure on all four tires and the spare more frequently in fall and winter. As the average temperature drops, so will tire pressures – typically by one PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The proper tire pressure levels can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker typically located on the driver’s side door jamb.

Air Filter – Check the engine air filter by holding it up to a 60-watt light bulb. If light can be seen through much of the filter, it is still clean enough to work effectively. However, if light is blocked by most of the filter, replace it.

Coolant Levels – Check the coolant level in the overflow tank when the engine is cold. If the level is low, add a 50/50 solution of coolant and water to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability. Test the antifreeze protection level annually with an inexpensive tester available at any auto parts store.

Lights – Check the operation of all headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers and back-up lights. Replace any burnt out bulbs.

Wiper Blades – The blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace any blade that leaves streaks or misses spots. In areas with snow, consider installing winter wiper blades that wrap the blade frame in a rubber boot to reduce ice and snow buildup that can prevent good contact between the blade and the glass.

Washer Fluid – Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution that has antifreeze components to prevent it from freezing.

Brakes – If there is any indication of a brake problem, have the system inspected by a certified technician to ensure all components are in good working order.

Transmission, Brake and Power Steering Fluids – Check all fluids to ensure they are at or above the minimum safe levels.

Emergency Road Kit – Carry an emergency kit equipped for winter weather. The kit should include:

  • Mobile phone, pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family and emergency services, and car charger
  • Drinking water
  • First-aid kit
  • Non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers
  • Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats
  • Snow shovel
  • Blankets
  • Extra warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves)
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Window washer solvent
  • Ice scraper with brush
  • Cloth or roll of paper towels
  • Jumper cables
  • Warning devices (flares or triangles)
  • Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)

Android and iPhone users can download AAA Mobile, AAA’s mobile smartphone app that provides AAA services for all motorists, such as mapping and gas price comparison, as well as member-exclusive benefits including roadside assistance and discounts.  AAA Membership is not required to download and use AAA apps, but is necessary to take advantage of unique member benefits such as roadside assistance.  For more information on AAA Mobile, visit AAA.com/Mobile.

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.

ORLANDO, FLORIDA,  September 21, 2010

In recognition of October as AAA Car Care Month, the nation’s largest motor club reminds motorists brakes are key to safe driving—especially during inclement weather

Good brakes are crucial to keeping a vehicle under control when driving—especially on snow- or ice-covered roads. In recognition of October as AAA Car Care Month, AAA encourages motorists to have a certified technician inspect their brakes to ensure they are ready for any slick roads Old Man Winter might throw at them in the coming months.

“Brake components that are badly worn, or a brake system in need of hydraulic fluid, may not provide the level of control needed for safe winter driving,” said John Nielsen, director, AAA Auto Repair and Buying Services. “Slick roads can magnify brake system problems, so it’s important to have brakes inspected annually by a qualified technician. There’s no better time to do that than before winter weather arrives.”

Warning Signs
Often the first sign of worn brakes is a brake pedal that seems to require more pressure to stop the vehicle. Scraping, squeaking or chirping noises that come from the wheels when the brakes are applied are other signs of potentially excessive brake wear. A car that pulls to the left or right when the brakes are applied also could mean trouble.

Motorists should not wait until the brake warning light in their vehicle illuminates to have their brakes inspected.

Brake for Careful Inspection, Maintenance
Because brakes cannot be thoroughly inspected without removing the wheels, motorists should specifically ask for an annual brake inspection when taking their vehicle into an auto repair shop for service. The braking components that a certified technician should inspect include:

  • Master Cylinder – The brake fluid reservoir should be checked periodically to ensure proper fluid levels.
  • Brake Lines – Steel brake tubing running from the master cylinder to all four wheels should be inspected for leaks caused by damage or rust.
  • Brake Hoses – Rubber brake hoses running from the brake lines to the brake calipers and wheel cylinders should be inspected for wearing or cracking.
  • Lining and Pads – Brake components that create friction and dissipate heat should be checked for uneven or excessive wear. Glazing or contamination from leaking brake fluid or grease seals are other potential problems.
  • Parking Brake –The parking brake operation should be checked and adjusted if necessary.

Having the brake fluid flushed is an important maintenance item that many drivers overlook. Brake fluid absorbs water that collects at low points in the hydraulic system where it can cause rust, fluid leaks and, if not prevented, brake failure. On vehicles with antilock brakes, moisture in the brake fluid also can damage expensive electro-hydraulic control units. For this reason, most manufacturers recommend that the brake system be flushed and new fluid installed every two to three years. Check the owner’s manual for the recommended service interval.

For motorists seeking an auto repair facility to inspect or repair their car’s brakes, AAA can help. AAA Approved Auto Repair is a free public service that helps consumers find quality, reliable auto repair facilities. AAA Approved Auto Repair shops must meet and maintain high professional standards for customer service, technician training, service equipment, warranties and cleanliness. There are nearly 8000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America and nearby locations can be quickly located at AAA.com/repair.

Save Your Brakes, and Money, with Good Driving Habits
The same friction that brakes use to stop a vehicle causes brake components to wear out and need replacement. However, good driving habits can make brakes last longer and reduce repair expenses.

When stopping, slow the vehicle gradually instead of suddenly. It’s also a good idea not to “ride” the brakes on steep hills. Downshifting can help slow the car and limit the amount of braking that is needed.

Brush up on Winter Braking Techniques
Before winter weather gets here, it’s important for drivers to brush on the proper braking and steering techniques that can be critical to their safety when driving on ice on snow. AAA’s offers a free brochure—How to Go on Ice and Snow—with instructions on proper steering and braking techniques and step-by-step instructions on how to react should your vehicle begin to skid. Check with your local AAA branch office or download it for free from the AAA Exchange.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 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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