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AAA study: Vehicle breakdowns hit all-time high

The AAA Northeast said on Wednesday, July 20,

The AAA Northeast said on Wednesday, July 20, 2016, that a recent study found vehicle breakdowns are at an all-time high in America, with the AAA having to provide roadside assistance for more than 32 million drivers in 2015. Credit: David Reich-Hale

We’ve come a long way since the first gasoline-powered automobile, invented 130 years ago.

But despite a rash of modern technological advances — everything from keyless entry to dashboard alerts and automated maintenance reminders — the AAA Northeast said Wednesday a recent study found that vehicle breakdowns are at an all-time high in America, with the AAA having to provide roadside assistance for more than 32 million drivers in 2015.

And, the bad news is the newest vehicles are not the most reliable. They’re the worst offenders, the AAA said.

“Vehicles less than five years old in particular experienced a higher proportion of tire and key-related problems than older vehicles, calling into question the trend of eliminating the spare tire and moving to keyless electronic ignitions,” the AAA said in a news release. As AAA Northeast spokesman Robert Sinclair Jr., said Wednesday: “New technology can’t solve some of the bugaboos and neglected maintenance items that sideline late-model vehicles. Low profile tires are highly susceptible to damage, especially when they’re underinflated and hit a pothole.”

He said that despite new mandated tire-pressure warning systems, drivers often ignore those warnings. And, he said, the AAA study found keyless ignition systems can “zap battery life” — while more than a half-million of the drivers assisted by AAA last year simply ran out of gas, trusting warning systems to give them a needed or anticipated cushion.

The AAA found that dead batteries, flat tires and keys locked inside vehicles were the top roadside assistance needs.

It also found that newer vehicles, those less than five years old, had a higher proportion of tire-, key- and fuel-related issues than old vehicles, while vehicles in the 6-to-10-year-old range had the highest proportion of battery problems.

Roadside assistance calls were highest in summer, when about 8.3 million drivers called AAA for help, followed by winter (8.1 million), fall (7.8 million) and spring (7.7 million).

Mondays constituted the most likely day drivers called for help, while Saturdays marked the least likely call day.

As a result of the study, the AAA is advising drivers to check to see if a spare tire is included with any new car purchased and the group suggests drivers check tire pressure at least once a month to ensure the proper inflation. It also suggests drivers pay attention to maintenance of their so-called “smart keys,” changing key-fob batteries at recommended intervals, and avoid exposing those key fobs to water and other detrimental elements.

Car batteries should be tested on an annual basis after three years of use and the AAA also advises drivers to pack emergency kits, including a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight (with extra batteries), a first aid kit, drinking water and snacks, as well as jumper cables for battery charging and emergency flares and reflectors in case of breakdowns.


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