“Bet” on battery, engine cooling and tire damage problems as the primary culprits

BOISE – (April 17, 2018) – If your vehicle is ten years old or older, some preventive care could be a wise investment to avoid a major roadside mishap this summer, says AAA.

In 2017, AAA received over 32 million requests for roadside assistance nationwide. After analyzing the data, AAA finds that vehicles 10 years old or older are twice as likely to be stranded at the roadside, and four times more likely to require a tow when compared to their younger counterparts.  Because the average age of the U.S. vehicle fleet is 11.6 years, drivers of these vehicles can anticipate more potential breakdowns on the horizon.

The aging vehicle fleet represented 67 percent of the calls AAA received for roadside assistance last year. Just a third of the drivers that called for help required a tow to a repair facility, but 81 percent of those vehicles were 10 years old and older.

“Last summer, Idahoans placed well over 16,000 roadside assistance calls, and AAA projects a two percent increase this year to nearly 17,000,” says Matthew Conde, public affairs director for AAA Idaho. “Idaho families will vacation in plenty of rural places where repairs could be delayed if trouble strikes.  That’s why it’s important to take action to prevent these issues where possible.”

64 percent of U.S. families plan to take a road trip this summer, and AAA expects to rescue 7.7 million motorists. The leading problems will be dead batteries, lockouts, and flat tires.


Make a safe B-E-T

Remember the acronym BET to deal with possible maintenance culprits:

  • Battery-related issues – “It can be extremely difficult to tell when a battery is the verge of dying,” Conde said. “Through our mobile battery program, AAA offers members free testing of a vehicle’s battery and electrical system, and if necessary, the battery can be replaced on-site. Where the mobile service isn’t available, a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility or similar repair shop can help.” For more information and to try out AAA’s new cost estimator, go to AAA.com/autorepair.
  • Engine cooling system failures – Look for signs of cooling system leaks, such as changes to the vehicle’s temperature gauge or coolant pooling underneath the vehicle when it’s parked. An overheated engine can easily lead to a breakdown.
  • Tire damage – “Fewer vehicles come equipped with a spare tire or ‘donut’ these days, and substitute inflator kits don’t work for every situation,” Conde said.       “Know what you have before you go, and also take a minute to check for adequate tire tread and air pressure.”


“In addition to batteries, cooling systems and tires, other vehicle parts deserve a closer look,” Conde suggested. “Timing belts should be checked for signs of cracking.  Headlights are sometimes neglected as well – as daylight hours and temperatures increase, people drive later into the evening and are occasionally caught unaware by sickly, fading headlights.”

AAA advises all drivers to keep basic safety essentials in their vehicles: a flashlight with extra batteries, first-aid kit, drinking water and food for passengers and pets, emergency flares or reflectors, and mobile charging power for a cell phone can all be handy solutions to avoid an unpleasant or even dangerous situation. Even in ideal weather conditions, motorists should keep friends and family aware of their travel plans, particularly to rural areas.

AAA further encourages vehicle owners to closely follow the guidance outlined in their manufacturer-provided owner’s manual.

“We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable summer travel season,” Conde said. “If we dwell on the importance of safety and preparedness, it’s because we’ve heard countless stories that demonstrate that these concepts can save lives.”