Motorists Need Roadside Assistance In Record Numbers

XiXinXing /

New and improved car designs don’t appear to reduce our need for roadside assistance.

The nonprofit AAA reports this week that it rescued a record 32 million drivers last year, according to a new study. In the process, AAA saw more battery, flat tire and key problems than ever before.

Cliff Ruud, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Solutions, notes:

“Vehicles today are advanced more than ever, yet are still vulnerable to breakdowns. Sleek, low profile tires are highly susceptible to damage, electronic keyless ignitions can zap battery life and despite advanced warning systems, more than half a million drivers ran out of gas last year.”

Tire- and key-related issues were more common with cars that are less than 5 years old than with older cars. To AAA, this suggests unintended consequences of trends such as eliminating spare tires and moving to electronic keyless ignitions.

For example, while removing the weight of your car’s spare tire can increase your gas mileage, the inflator kits with which spare tires are often replaced can only repair certain types of tire damage, according to AAA.

Battery-related problems were more common with cars that are between 6 and 10 years old. Most batteries have a lifespan of between three and five years, according to AAA.

To avoid a roadside breakdown, AAA suggests you:

  • Consider adding a spare tire to your car if it did not come with one.
  • Check the tire pressure at least once a month, and have tires rotated based on the car manufacturer’s recommended schedule.
  • Take special care of “smart keys” and keyless entry fobs. Always take keys when exiting the car, avoid exposing keyless-entry remote or smart keys to water, and replace the key or fob battery when recommended by the car manufacturer.
  • Test the vehicle battery when it reaches 3 years of age, and annually thereafter.
  • Have a well-stocked emergency kit.

Have you ever experienced a roadside breakdown? Let us know what caused it or how you’ve avoided it — comment below or on Facebook.

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