AAA Advises Drivers to Save $50 a Month for Car Care Fund
According to a new AAA survey, 64 million American drivers would not be able to pay for an unexpected vehicle repair without going into debt, indicating Americans may not understand the full cost of owning and operating a vehicle. Additionally, a previous AAA survey revealed that 35 percent of motorists skipped or delayed service or repairs that were recommended by a mechanic or listed in the vehicle’s factory maintenance manual. For most motorists, car repairs are unavoidable, and the average repair cost is between $500 and $600, AAA advises motorists to save at least $50 a month for unforeseen expenses, and have their vehicle serviced at a trusted repair facility to prevent a roadside breakdown.
“Its important motorists keep their vehicle operating safely,” said Montrae Waiters, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Neglecting routine maintenance can damage your vehicle and leave you with expensive car repair bills.’
How to Save on Repair Costs
According to AAA’s certified Approved Auto Repair shops, motorists can save an average of one hundred dollars per visit by performing routine maintenance on their vehicle.
AAA recommends this checklist to avoid potentially costly repairs:
- Batteries: Automotive batteries typically last between three and five years, with reduced battery life in hotter climates. To avoid an unexpected battery failure, AAA recommends that drivers have their vehicle’s battery tested when it reaches three years of age and on an annual basis thereafter. According to a recent survey, two-thirds of Americans have never had their car battery tested before their vehicle failing to start.AAA’s Mobile Battery Service offers free battery testing to AAA members.
- Tires: Keeping tires properly inflated and routinely checking tread depth is critical to safety, yet AAA found that 60 percent of Americans do not check tire pressures regularly. Tire pressures, including the spare tire, should be checked at least once a month, and when tread depth reaches 4/32” AAA recommends replacing tires. Additionally, while locking lug nuts are helpful in preventing tire theft, missing keys prevented roadside assistance technicians from changing 21,000 tires in 2014. AAA recommends storing the locking lug nut key with the spare tire or in the glove box.
- Check the level and condition of the engine oil. If driving under extreme conditions – such as very hot summer weather or pulling a heavy trailer- you may want to consider switching to oil with higher viscosity. Check your owner’s manual for specific recommendations.
- Look for worn, cracked, blistered or soft belts or hoses. Always perform this check with the engine off.
“Flat tires, overheated cooling system or dead batteries are common reasons motorists call AAA for assistance. In 2016 alone, AAA responded to nearly 32 million stranded motorists,” stated Waiters. “AAA is committed to keeping our roads safe for all motorists, but this study reveals drivers can help themselves by investing in regular maintenance.”
Plan for a Breakdown
Before a breakdown happens, AAA recommends that vehicle owners:
- Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule to avoid roadside trouble.
- Identify a repair shop you trust. A recent AAA survey found that one-third of U.S. drivers have yet to find a reliable repair facility. Visit AAA.com/autorepair to locate an AAA Approved Auto Repair facility near you.
How to Deal with an Unexpected Repair
If faced with an unexpected repair, AAA suggests that drivers:
- Get a written estimate for the repair and clarify with the shop the work that needs to be done on the vehicle. Consider getting a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis.
- Negotiate the repair bill with the mechanic. Ask if the shop offers any discounts or payment plans that can reduce immediate out-of-pocket costs.
The AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) network consists of nearly 7,000 facilities that have met AAA’s high standards, including, technician certifications, ongoing training, financial stability, facility cleanliness, insurance requirements, rigorous inspections and customer satisfaction. AAA members are eligible for exclusive benefits at AAR facilities, including priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts, free maintenance checks, dispute resolution assistance and more. To locate an AAR shop in your area, visit AAA.com/autorepair. For information on becoming a member, please visit www.AAA.com.