BOISE – April is Car Care Month, and with the average vehicle now more than 12 years old, AAA is reminding drivers to catch up on routine maintenance before a spring or summer road trip.

“There are many variables that go into a successful vacation, but preventative maintenance can really take a lot of stress out of the equation,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde.  “We’ll always be around to rescue people at the roadside, but whenever possible, we’d like to help travelers focus on the fun stuff, like planning and enjoying their next bucket-list adventure.”

AAA reminds vehicle owners to make a smart B-E-T before they hit the road:

  • Have your battery tested if it’s three years old or older
  • Check engine fluid levels, hoses, and belts
  • Make sure tires are properly inflated and have adequate tread

If you need to purchase a new battery, buy it from a high-volume seller that has fresh stock.

“As we come out of a long winter, your vehicle may have picked up an alignment or balance issue that could cause your tires to wear unevenly,” Conde said.  “Be on the lookout for new or unusual sounds, vibrations, or ‘pulling’ in one direction or another.”

When it’s time for a tune-up or a repair, consumers have three choices:

  • Dealerships are very familiar with the vehicles they sell and have factory-trained technicians.  But the number of dealerships is more limited than other repair shops.
  • Independent repair shops are more widely available than dealerships, and it may be easier in some cases to develop a relationship with the shop owner and mechanics.  But independent shops may vary in available services and cost.
  • Specialists have narrowed focus and special expertise, but services may be limited, with fewer locations.

Selecting a repair shop

  • Don’t ignore the signs of an issue.  Tackling small problems may prevent major repairs.
  • Ask around.  Ask friends and family for recommendations about service and quality.
  • Start small.  Have the shop ‘audition’ by completing an oil change or a tire rotation before taking on a bigger repair.
  • Go with a pro.  AAA Approved Auto Repair shops are regularly inspected to make sure they meet high standards.  For more information, visit

In previous research, AAA asked consumers what they look for in a repair shop.  For many people, it came down to the 3 C’s – confidence (89%), cost (83%), and convenience (78%).

When it comes to choosing a repair shop, internet searches (6%), online reviews (4%), and advertising (3%) ranked very low on the list.  Most Americans rely on the recommendations of family and friends (38%), and 35% of vehicle owners take their car to the place it was purchased. “We know that for many people, vehicle maintenance seems about as exciting as a trip to the dentist,” Conde said.  “But if careful preparation means that you’re able to have a safe and worry-free vacation, it will all be worth it.”