Not too long ago, I saw two newer model cars, not more than three years old each, in a parking lot with their hoods up. It was an obvious battery restart. Well, according to a new AAA study, I’m not the only one seeing a rise in newer car breakdowns.
AAA says its roadside rescues are at a record high. The auto club saved the day for 32 million drivers in 2015, with more flat tires, battery problems and key-related issues than ever before. What’s more is that newer 2012-2016 model vehicles have a higher number of tire, key and fuel-related issues than older model cars.
Researchers are blaming advanced auto technology like electronic key fobs for more lockouts, sometimes even when the car is still running. Key fobs can also drain car batteries if they are stored too close to the car, say, in the garage, because they keep the battery from fully shutting off. Instead it keeps the car in a state of suspension. So it basically drains the juice from your battery overnight.
AAA is pointing the finger at the growing popularity of low-profile tires, which are prone to damage, for flats. It doesn’t help either that most new cars don’t come with a spare tire anymore.
“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,” says Clif Ruud, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Solutions.
Also, if you can believe it, new advanced fuel gauges aren’t always keeping drivers from running out of gas. Researchers say drivers are using fuel range estimates and low-fuel alert to push the limits between fuel-ups. More than half a million people waited too long to fill up last year and ended up stranded on E.
Here are some tips AAA offers to keep you from being stranded by one of the above problems:
Check for a spare tire: Before buying a car, check that the vehicle includes a spare tire. If it doesn’t, consider adding one as an option.
Check tires regularly: At least once a month, check the tire pressure to ensure proper inflation. This affects tire wear and vehicle handling.
Take special care of “Smart Keys”: AAA recommends drivers take special care of their “smart keys” and keyless entry fobs. Always take keys when exiting the car, avoid exposing keyless-entry remote or smart keys to water. Change the battery in the key fob on a regular basis to avoid lockout as well
Battery: AAA recommends drivers test their vehicle’s battery when it reaches three years of age and on an annual basis thereafter.
Pack an emergency kit: More than 40 percent of motorists don’t carry an emergency kit in their vehicle according to AAA. Drivers should have a well-stocked emergency kit, which includes a mobile phone and car charger; a flashlight with extra batteries; a first-aid kit; drinking water; extra snacks/food for your travelers and any pets; battery booster cables; and emergency flares or reflectors.
And we’ll throw in another one. Don’t wait until you are coasting on fumes before filling up at the pump. Running out of gas can definitely ruin your day.