AAA urges motorists to avoid breakdowns with proper vehicle maintenance
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Roadside emergencies are one of the fastest ways to put the brakes on travel plans. While some motorists may not encounter problems, travelers can minimize the risk by planning ahead and preparing properly. According to AAA roadside assistance data, millions of roadside breakdowns could be prevented with basic vehicle maintenance. A recent AAA survey revealed that 35 percent of motorists skipped or delayed service or repairs that were recommended by a mechanic or listed in the vehicle’s factory maintenance manual.
“It’s important motorists keep their vehicle operating safely,” said Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs for AAA Wisconsin. “Neglecting scheduled maintenance can damage your vehicle, leaving you with expensive car repairs.” According to AAA’s certified Approved Auto Repair shops, motorists can save an average of one hundred dollars per visit solely by 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. AAA offers these precautionary tips to prevent these common roadside problems:
• 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.
“Problems with a flat tires, overheated cooling system or a battery that quits are common reasons motorists call AAA for assistance. There are more than 12 million calls each year related to engine trouble, fuel issues and other mechanical misfortunes,” stated Jarmusz. “AAA is committed to keeping our roads safe for all motorists; however, this study reveals drivers can save time and money by investing in regular 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.