Posts Tagged ‘Vehicle Maintenance’

Double Digits Means Double Trouble for Vehicle Breakdowns

April 17th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 17, 2018) – As 64 percent of family travelers gear up for a road trip this summer, AAA warns that the majority of U.S. vehicles are at a higher-than-average risk for a breakdown. A new analysis of AAA roadside data shows that vehicles 10 years and older are twice as likely to end up stranded on the side of the road compared to newer vehicles and on top of that, the odds of needing a tow quadruples. With more than half of cars on the road aged 10 years or older, AAA urges drivers to minimize the chance of a breakdown by getting their vehicle road-trip ready to keep their summer travel on track.

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“It’s no surprise that older vehicles are more likely to encounter a serious breakdown, but it is surprising just how many people are at risk,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “All vehicles – even the newest ones – are prone to typical roadside headaches like dead batteries, flat tires and misplaced keys, but vehicles 10 years and older are four times more likely to encounter a problem serious enough to require a tow to a repair facility.”

Fortunately, most roadside trouble is avoidable. For vehicles of any age, old and new, AAA advises drivers make a good B-E-T to stay on the road by having a vehicle’s Battery, Engine and Tires checked before embarking on a summer excursion. Long trips coupled with hot weather places additional strain on vehicles and in some cases may accelerate a dormant issue. When these key systems are in good working order, AAA data shows the odds of encountering a serious breakdown are greatly reduced. The top three types of vehicle issues that could derail a road trip are:

  • Battery-related issues, including faulty starters or alternators. A battery on the brink of dying rarely warns a driver before it fails, but having a simple battery test will. Through its mobile battery program, AAA offers its members free testing of a vehicle’s battery and electrical system.
  • Engine cooling system failures, such as the radiator, thermostat or water pump or engine parts such as the timing belt, most prominently in vehicles age 10 years and older. Much like a battery, the components of the engine cooling system may fail without warning. Drivers should look for fluids such as coolant pooling underneath the vehicle when it is parked as an indication of an impending problem.
  • Tire damage severe enough to require repair or replacement. Drivers can minimize this risk by checking tread depth, tire pressure and whether their vehicle is equipped with a spare tire.

A professional and thorough vehicle inspection can help reduce the chance of a serious breakdown. If a car does end up at a repair shop, not only will a road trip be interrupted, drivers can expect to spend anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars to get back on the road. Unfortunately, many drivers may hesitate to schedule an inspection. Not only are the majority of U.S. drivers leery of repair shops, one-in-three cannot afford an unexpected vehicle repair.

“Drivers may skip taking their car in for an inspection, hoping to avoid an expensive repair bill,” Nielsen said. “But, when you factor in the cost of an interrupted trip, having a vehicle inspected and proactively repaired will cost much less in the long run.”

AAA helps take the guesswork out of finding a trusted repair facility with its Approved Auto Repair (AAR) facilities. These shops must adhere to a stringent set of standards for certifications, technical training, cleanliness, insurance requirements, and customer service set forth by AAA. Shops with the AAR designation signal to drivers a vetted facility, inspected annually, that will offer fair pricing and quality service. To locate one, drivers can visit AAA.com/AutoRepair. Additionally, AAA also offers a free repair cost calculator, also found at AAA.com/AutoRepair, that provides drivers the ability to estimate the cost of a repair or to verify a quote received for their vehicle.

AAA provides more than 58 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 36 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

Erin SteppOne-third of Americans ignore vehicle maintenance needs

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

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

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

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

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

Other key findings from 2014 roadside assistance data include:

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

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

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

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

AAA urges motorists to Take Two for safety

October 27th, 2014 by AAA

Heather HunterSimple tire checks can improve winter driving.

ORLANDO, Fla., (October 27, 2014) – Worn tires can send a car into dangerous skids and spins on wet and icy winter roads. Checking tire pressure and tread depth monthly can help motorists keep tires in optimal condition, according to AAA.

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“The two most important tire safety checks – a pressure reading and tread depth measurement – are very simple to do,” according to Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering. “If motorists spend about two minutes on each tire, they will keep their tires at peak performance.”

Monthly tire checks take two steps:

  • Measure tread depth with a quarter rather than a penny. When the top of Washington’s head is exposed, the tread depth is 4/32″ or less and it’s time to start shopping for new tires.
  • Use a quality gauge to check tire pressure. For proper results, make sure tires are cold. Look for the recommended air pressure in the vehicle’s owner’s manual the tire information decal located inside the driver’s side door or in the glove compartment. The number molded into the tire sidewall is not recommended for normal operating condition; this specification is for a tire that is carrying its maximum rated payload.

“Worn tires should be replaced immediately because they significantly impact safety,” says Brannon. “Testing has shown that tires with only half of their tread depth can take up 6 feet longer to stop from 40 miles-per-hour on a wet surface, even with the antilock braking system engaged.”

Additional information regarding 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 consumer 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.

Heather HunterAAA suggests motorists mark November 2 for key winter car care checks

ORLANDO, Fla., (October 20, 2014) – Consumers have leveraged the changing of the clocks to remember important but infrequent tasks like replacing smoke alarm batteries. AAA suggests motorists also use this event as a reminder to check their vehicle for winter readiness.

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“The end of daylight savings time means that winter weather is on the way, which can be rough on your car,” says AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering, Greg Brannon. “This is a good time to have vehicle systems checked and perform important maintenance to ensure your car is in peak condition.”

Harsh winter conditions make your vehicle work harder, particularly the charging and starting system, headlights, tires and windshield wipers. AAA recommends that motorists:

  • Clean any corrosion from battery posts and cable connections and wash all surfaces with battery terminal cleaner or a solution of baking soda and water. Have the battery checked by a professional to ensure it is strong enough to face cold weather.
  • Have any engine drivability problems corrected at a good repair shop. Symptoms like hard starts, rough idling, stalling or diminished power could signal a problem that would be exacerbated by cold weather.
  • Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase one-piece beam-type or rubber-clad “winter” blades to fight snow and ice build-up. Use cold-weather windshield washer solvent and carry an ice-scraper.
  • Inspect all lights and bulbs and replace burned out bulbs. Clean road grime or clouding from all lenses.
  • Have your mechanic check the exhaust system for leaks and look for any holes in the trunk and floorboards.
  • Examine tires for tread depth, uneven wearing and cupping. Check tire pressures once a month when tires are cold, before driving for any distance. In extreme climates, a set of winter snow tires may be a wise investment.

Additional information regarding 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 consumer 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.

Heather Hunter

 

 

 

 

 

  • Service intervals for oil changes, brake, transmission and power steering fluids and coolant have increased with advances in technology.
  • Monthly safety checks are critical for detecting issues that could lead to a hazardous situation or major repair.

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ORLANDO, Fla., (October 14, 2014) – New fluid technologies and engine designs have combined to reduce the burden of properly maintaining today’s vehicles. Fewer trips to the repair facility, however, may put motorists at risk of missing clues that could head off safety issues or expensive repairs.

“Every vehicle has a unique maintenance schedule, but many automakers are extending service intervals for vehicle fluids,” says John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Less maintenance improves the cost of vehicle ownership, but fewer visits to the repair facility means the technician will have fewer opportunities to check your vehicle for signs of wear. It’s important for motorists to conduct monthly safety inspections to identify issues before they escalate.”

Examples of new fluid service intervals include:

  • Oil: Cars today are designed to travel at least 5,000 miles between oil changes, and many newer models can be driven up to 7,500 miles or more before an oil change is necessary. Some vehicles that use full-synthetic engine oils have service intervals approaching 15,000 miles.  Be sure to check your oil level, either under the hood or through the vehicle’s onboard computer system.
  • Coolant: Requirements for flushing the coolant can vary from every two years to more than 100,000 miles, depending on the coolant type used. However, be sure coolant levels are correct as leaks in the system could cause major issues.
  • Brake fluid:  Most vehicle manufacturers recommend that brake fluid be replaced periodically to flush moisture and contaminants from the system. Check your vehicle owner’s manual for specific recommendations. If not specified, AAA recommends flushing the brake system and replacing with new fluid every two years.
  • Transmission fluid: Modern automatic transmissions are increasingly being filled with “lifetime” fluids that do not need to be changed until the vehicle has traveled 100,000 miles or more. The owner’s manual or maintenance booklet is the definitive source for specific transmission fluid requirements.

A monthly, 10-minute vehicle inspection can highlight issues that need attention. Motorists should check the level of the engine oil, brake fluid, engine coolant, washer fluid and power steering fluid.  In addition, a check of the tire pressure and tread depth will help ensure safety on the road.

Additional information regarding 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 consumer 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.

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.

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:

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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 Experts provide advice on successfully preparing your student for car ownership at college

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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.

AAA cautions drivers to prepare for winter driving before the flakes start to fall

ORLANDO, Fla., (December 18, 2012) –   Nearly one-quarter of weather related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement,  resulting in more than 1,300 deaths and 116,800 people injured annually, according to data from the Federal Highway Administration.  With AccuWeather’s winter forecast calling for above-normal snowfall in some parts of the country and the first official day of winter December 21, AAA recommends motorists brush up on winter driving techniques before the weather outside turns frightful.

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Prepare Your Vehicle for Use in Ice and Snow

Before winter conditions hit, it’s important to prepare your car for harsh winter weather. AAA’s Winter Car Care Checklist can help determine a vehicle’s 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. The AAA Winter Car Care Checklist can be found here.

Drive Distraction Free

It is also important when driving in winter conditions to drive distraction-free and in the right frame of mind. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles your risk of being in a crash.  AAA recommends if you are with a passenger, enlist the passenger’s help to carry out activities that would otherwise distract you from driving safely.

Do Not Use Cruise Control and Avoid Tailgating

Normal following distances of three to four seconds for dry pavement should be increased to eight to 10 seconds when driving on icy, slippery surfaces. This extra time will allow for extra braking distance should a sudden stop become necessary.  If driving on a four-lane highway, stay in the clearest lane; avoid changing lanes and driving over built-up snow. Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery (wet, ice, snow, sand) surface; not using cruise control will allow you to respond instantly when you lift your foot off the accelerator.

Know When to Brake and When to Steer

Some driving situations require abrupt action to avoid a crash or collision and in winter conditions the decision to steer or brake can have very different outcomes. When travelling over 25 MPH, AAA recommends steering over braking to avoid a collision in wintery conditions, as less distance is required to steer around an object than to brake to a stop.  In slick conditions, sudden braking can lead to loss of vehicle control.

However, sometimes steering is not an option. Braking on slippery surfaces requires you to look further head and increased following and stopping distances.  Plan stopping distances as early as possible and always look 20-30 seconds ahead of your vehicle to ensure you have time and space to stop safely. Shaded spots, bridges, overpasses and intersections are areas where ice is likely to form first and will be the most slippery. It is important to adjust your braking habits as road conditions change.

Stay in Control Through a Skid

Even careful drivers can experience skids. When a vehicle begins to skid, it’s important to not panic and follow these basic steps:

  • Continue to look and steer in the direction the car needs to go.
  • Avoid slamming on the brakes as this will further upset the vehicle’s balance and make it harder to control.

If you find your vehicle stuck in the snow, AAA members needing assistance can request roadside rescue at (800) AAA-HELP.  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. These tips and additional information on driving in winter conditions can be found in the AAA brochure How to Go on Ice and Snow online.

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.

Proper vehicle maintenance can help holiday travelers avoid trouble on the road

ORLANDO, Fla., (December 14, 2012) – As 84.4 million travelers take to the roads for the year-end holiday, AAA anticipates coming to the assistance of more than 1.2 million stranded motorists between December 19, 2012, and January 2, 2013. The nation’s largest motor club will be busy with lockouts, battery replacements, jump starts, changing tires, extricating vehicles from snow, towing vehicles for repair and more.

“Becoming stranded on the roadway is the last thing on anyone’s holiday wish list,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA National Vice President, Automotive, Financial Services and E-Business.  “Whether you are staying local or planning a long distance road trip, having your vehicle properly maintained and prepared for holiday driving will help ensure it gets you and your loved ones to your destination safely and without incident.”

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AAA projects its roadside problem-solvers will be able to remedy the issues of more than three out of five stranded motorists at the roadside and send them on their way, but the remaining travelers will still need a tow this year-end holiday season.

More than 288,000 requests for help with a dead battery are expected, and among those rescued AAA roadside service personnel will conveniently replace more than 80,000 failed batteries on the spot.   AAA also expects to retrieve more than 198,000 sets of keys locked inside vehicles, change more than 166,000 tires and perform more than 21,000 vehicle extrications during the year-end holiday period.

Drivers can avoid the causes of some roadside breakdowns by keeping their vehicles properly maintained.  AAA advises motorists to follow their vehicle manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and make sure their vehicle is ready for the rigors of year-end holiday driving.

Here are a few things to add to your list before heading out for your holiday drive:

  • Antifreeze. Check antifreeze annually to ensure it will withstand the winter cold. A 50/50 mixture of coolant and water will protect against freezing.
  • Windshield wipers and washer fluid. Replace wiper blades if they do not clear the glass in a single swipe without streaking. Where appropriate, consider the use of special winter blades that offer improved performance in snow and ice conditions. Fill the windshield washer reservoir with winter detergent fluid to prevent freeze up.
  • Tires. Cold weather reduces tire inflation pressure, so check tire pressures frequently and maintain the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure found on the driver’s door jamb—not the pressure stamped on the tire sidewall. Motorists should never reduce tire pressure in an attempt to increase traction on snow and ice. This does not work, and when the roads dry out it can cause excessive tire wear and vehicle handling problems.
  • Battery. Check for a secure fit and clean away any corrosion on the battery and its cable connections. If the battery is out of warranty, it’s advisable to have it tested before cold weather hits. If replacement is necessary, have a certified technician help select the proper battery for your vehicle type and local climate. In many areas, AAA members can make an appointment to have a AAA Battery Service technicians visit their home or office to check and replace batteries.
  • Belts and hoses. 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.

Other important areas to have a certified technician check in preparation for winter include the vehicle’s fluid levels, lights, brakes, exhaust system and heater/defroster. Throughout the winter driving season, motorists should continue to have regular services, including oil and filter changes, performed at the intervals recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

While preventative measures go a long way toward keeping motorists driving safely on the road, unexpected weather or vehicle problems may still arise and leave them stranded. AAA encourages motorists to update their emergency roadside kit for winter to include a mobile phone and car charger; blankets; a flashlight with extra batteries; a first-aid kit; drinking water; a small shovel; a sack of sand, cat litter or traction mats; windshield scraper and brush; battery booster cables; and emergency flares or reflectors.

Motorists seeking a trustworthy repair shop to help prepare their vehicle for winter driving are encouraged to visit one of AAA’s more than 8,000 Approved Auto Repair facilities. AAA’s network of approved repair shops is a free public service that enables consumers to identify professional auto shops staffed by certified technicians who are equipped with the proper tools and equipment to service today’s high-tech automobiles. Consumers can find Approved Auto Repair facilities online at AAA.com/repair.

Android and iPhone users can download AAA Mobile, AAA’s mobile smartphone app that provides selected 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.

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