Cars and Drivers

How to Avoid Being One of 8 Million Drivers AAA Will Rescue This Summer


Consumer auto services provider AAA expects to provide roadside assistance to 7.7 million U.S. motorists this summer. Last year a full two-thirds of these calls for assistance were asking for help with a car that was at least 10 years old. AAA expects that percentage to dip to 64% this summer.

More than a third of last year’s roadside calls required that the car be towed to a repair shop, and of those vehicles, 81% were more than 10 years old.

AAA’s managing director of automotive engineering and repair, John Nielsen, said:

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. 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.

AAA recommends that motorists pay special attention to batteries, engines and tires before heading out on a summer driving trip and that vehicle owners comply with the automaker’s preventive maintenance schedule. Here are tips from AAA on battery, engine and tire maintenance:

  • The chances for a battery or other electrical system issue grow as the age of the vehicle increases. A battery on the brink of dying rarely warns a driver before it fails, but having a simple battery test will.
  • 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.
  • Inspect tires for cuts, gouges or sidewall bulges. Also, check tire tread depth and pressure, and make sure the vehicle is equipped with a spare tire.

The AAA’s Nielsen added:

Drivers may skip taking their car in for an inspection, hoping to avoid an expensive repair bill. 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 has prepared a fact sheet with more details.

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