According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), more cars broke down on the side of the road in 2015 than in any other year. In fact, AAA says dead batteries, flat tyres, and key problems contributed to 32 million drivers needing to pull over and call for assistance.
You might think your high-tech car is better than that old-school Honda sitting in your neighbor’s driveway, but a new AAA study reveals technology in newer cars is one of the main reasons why so many people are left stranded.
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The AAA reports that cars five years old and younger experience more key-related issues compared to older cars. The problem is that keyless entry remotes (also known as fobs), continue to transmit signals to the receiver when left in the car. Over time, this can drain your battery, leaving you out of luck the next time you try to start your car. In addition, despite the advances in technology, AAA said they responded to four million calls in 2015 from drivers locked out of their vehicles.
Another huge issue centers around spare tyres. If you have a newer car, you might’ve noticed that it didn’t come with a spare tire. In recent years, standard car features have changed, and many manufacturers have nixed the extra tyre to reduce vehicle weight and boost fuel economy. Instead, the AAA reports, about 36% of 2015 models came with a run-flat tire or a tire-inflation kit. These kits can mend flats, but they don’t fix the tyre if there is damage to the sidewall or a full blowout. With no spare, these situations will require the driver to call a tow truck — which in some cases could cost you more than just buying a spare tire.
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Advances in technology have also made drivers lazy. Remember the good old days when people would fill up their gas tank once it passed the halfway mark? Those days are over. Today, low fuel alerts and range estimators allow drivers to push their tanks to the limit. Unfortunately, some drivers take it too far, which is why a growing number of people are running out of gas on the side of the road.
We can all agree that a car breakdown can a ruin a perfectly fine day, but it doesn’t have to. Follow these tips to avoid a breakdown and all of the costs associated:
- Make maintenance a priority
Tire pressure and inflation should be checked once a month. Tires should also be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles, but check your car manual for manufacturer suggestions.
- Invest in a Plan C
It’s OK if you have a tire inflation kit in your car; in many cases, it gets you on your way more quickly and with less hassle than changing a spare tire. Still, it doesn’t hurt to invest in a spare tire, especially if you’re going on a long road trip. This way, you have another option if the tire kit fails.
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- Hold on to your keys
Always take your keys when you exit the car. This sounds like a no-brainer, but many people with keyless entry remotes or smart keys leave them in the car for convenience. As stated above, this can drain your battery or lead to a lockout — causing a much bigger headache.
4. Know your battery power
AAA recommends that drivers have their vehicle’s battery tested when it reaches three years of age and on an annual basis thereafter.