COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Carolinas had a record number of vehicle breakdowns last year, despite all the new technology in cars and trucks that’s supposed to keep them running longer and better. AAA Carolinas says it rescued nearly one million stranded motorists last year.
In fact, some of the vehicle changes are contributing to some of the problems. To reduce vehicle weight to improve gas mileage, more and more new vehicles are not equipped with spare tires but come with tire inflator kits instead. Ernie King, branch manager of AAA Carolina’s repair center in Columbia, says, “The problem with that is these tire repair kits don’t fix all problems, so it’s leading to more people needing to be towed than usual.”
AAA recommends that if you’re buying a vehicle check to see if it comes with a spare, and if it doesn’t then consider adding one as an option. It also recommends checking the pressure in your tires at least once a month, as well as rotating your tires when the vehicle manufacturer recommends it.
Another problem being caused by new technology is keyless ignition systems. Instead of keys, there’s a keyless entry fob. However, if that fob is kept in the car or too close to it, it can drain the battery life of the fob, locking the driver out of the car, sometimes while it’s running.
AAA says cars that are newer than five years old have a higher proportion of tire and key-related issues. Cars that are 6 to 10 years old have a higher proportion of battery problems, because vehicle batteries typically last 3 to 5 years. AAA recommends having your battery checked once a year after you’ve had it for three years. It estimates 20 percent of all the vehicles on the road have weak batteries.
In case you do break down, AAA recommends that you have an emergency kit in your vehicle. That includes a cell phone car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, drinking water, jumper cables, and emergency flares or reflectors.