Driving an older vehicle can sometimes lead to an unexpected roadside emergency. According to a new AAA study, 67 percent of AAA roadside assistance calls received in 2017  were for vehicles 10 years and older, while only 33 percent of calls received were for newer vehicles (age 9 years and newer). With more than half of vehicles on the road aged 10 years or older, AAA advises motorists to minimize the chance of a breakdown by getting their vehicles road-trip ready for summer travel.

“New and older vehicles can leave motorists vulnerable at the roadside dealing with flat tires, overheated cooling system or batteries that quit working on a hot summer’s day,” said Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs for AAA – The Auto Club Group.  “Its important motorists understand that vehicles 10 years and older are four times more likely to encounter a roadside event severe enough to require a tow to a repair facility.”

Fortunately, most roadside trouble is avoidable. For vehicles of any age, old and new, AAA advises drivers make a good B-E-T to stay on the road by having the vehicle’s Battery, Engine and Tires checked before embarking on a summer excursion. Long trips coupled with hot weather place additional strain on vehicles and, in some cases, may accelerate a dormant issue. When these key systems are in good working order, AAA data shows the odds of encountering a serious breakdown are greatly reduced. The top three types of vehicle issues that could derail a road trip are:

  • Battery-related issues, including faulty starters or alternators. A battery on the brink of dying rarely warns a driver before it fails, but having a simple battery test will. Through its mobile battery program, AAA offers its members free testing of a vehicle’s battery and electrical system.
  • Engine cooling system failures, such as the radiator, thermostat or water pump, as well as, engine parts such as the timing belt, most prominently in vehicles age 10 years and older. 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.
  • Tire damage severe enough to require repair or replacement. Drivers can minimize this risk by checking tread depth, tire pressure and whether their vehicle is equipped with a spare tire.

“Motorist should keep their vehicle operating safely in order to make it to their summer destination,” continued Jarmusz. “Having your vehicle checked by a skilled auto technician may save you time on the side of the road and expensive car repairs.”

A professional and thorough vehicle inspection can help reduce the chance of a serious breakdown. If a car does end up at a repair shop, not only will the trip be interrupted, motorists can expect to spend anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars to get back on the road.

Additionally, AAA reminds drivers to take the following safety precautions on the road:

  • Drive distraction-free. Do not text or engage in distracting activities while driving, including interacting with a cell phone, talking with passengers or looking at other objects in the vehicle.
  • Comply with the Move Over Law. Observe the Move Over Law.  When law enforcement, tow providers or emergency vehicles are on the side of the road, change lanes or slow down to give sufficient clearance. This is the law in all 50 states.
  • Pull out of the traffic lanes if your car breaks down. If faced with a vehicle emergency, safely steer your car off the roadway. Turn on the emergency flashers to alert other drivers and exit the vehicle on the side facing away from traffic, if possible. Once everyone in the vehicle is at a safe location, request assistance from a road service provider.

AAA helps take the guesswork out of finding a trusted repair shop with its Approved Auto Repair (AAR) facilities.  Each AAR facility must adhere to a stringent set of standards for certifications, technical training, cleanliness, insurance requirements, and customer service set forth by AAA. Shops with the AAR designation signal to drivers a vetted facility, inspected annually, that will offer fair pricing and quality service. To locate an AAR facility, drivers can visit AAA.com/AutoRepair. Additionally, AAA also offers a free repair cost calculator, also found at AAA.com/AutoRepair, that provides drivers the ability to estimate the cost of a repair or to verify a quote received for their vehicle.