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Jana Tidwell
Public Relations Manager, PA
O: (302) 299-4426
C: (302) 353-6563

Kathleen Zinszer
Sr. Public Aff. Specialist, CT/DE/NJ/PA
O: (302) 299-4168
C: (610) 291-7312

AAA Mid-Atlantic: Don’t Get Caught with Your Tires (and Wires) Down

AAA Car Care experts warn drivers to check vehicles for nuts and a spare

PHILADELPHIA, PA (October 24, 2019) –Car Care Month (October) continues and with the weather turning colder, especially overnight, AAA urges motorists to take the time to get their cars ready for winter weather driving.  In addition to recommending drivers have their batteries, windshield wipers and tire treads checked, AAA notes two things most drivers don’t think about until it’s too late – spare tires and chewed wires.

Searching for Your Spare

Winter weather can lead to tire issues.  AAA recommends checking tire pressure, tire tread and whether or not you have a spare tire.  According to research from AAA, nearly onethird (28 percent) of 2017 model year vehicles did not come with a spare tire as standard equipment.  This reduces vehicle weight and improves furl economy in newer vehicles, but creates an unnecessary hassle and expense for drivers.

While new vehicles are equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems that alert drivers to low tire pressure, AAA’s roadside assistance data shows that tire-related problems continue to be one of the top reasons why members call for assistance. AAA Mid-Atlantic roadside assistance crews responded to more than 90,000 member calls for flat tires in 2018 and nearly 70,000 to date in 2019.  To avoid a roadside surprise, AAA urges drivers to check their trunk for a spare tire before trouble strikes.

“Having a flat tire can be a nuisance for drivers, but not having a spare could put them in an even more aggravating situation,” said Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Flat tires remain one of the top reasons our members call for service, yet many do not realize they do not have a spare tire to put on their vehicle. This can turn the relatively routine process of changing a tire at the roadside into an inconvenient and costly situation that requires a tow to a repair facility.”

To prevent drivers from being stranded in the event of a flat tire, AAA offers these precautionary tips:

  • Do not assume there’s a spare. When purchasing a new vehicle, always ask for a detailed list of equipment and whether a spare tire can be purchased.
  • Inspect all five tires. Check tire pressures monthly and have all tires inspected as part of routine maintenance. If your vehicle has a spare tire, be sure that it’s properly inflated.
  • Read ahead. If your vehicle is equipped with a tire-inflator kit, read the owner’s manual and understand how it works and its limitations.
  • Check expiration dates. If your vehicle is equipped with a tire-inflator kit, check its expiration date. Most need to be replaced every four to eight years.
  • Consider roadside assistance coverage. Roadside assistance coverage can offer peace of mind when faced with roadside trouble, including a flat tire. 

Rodent Risk to Your Wallet

Car not starting?  Rats!  Literally, rats or mice could be the problem. As the weather turns colder, rodents like mice, rats, chipmunks and squirrels take shelter wherever they can, possibly even under the hood.

AAA automotive technicians say rodents will take up residence under the hood of a vehicle to get out of the cold, snow and wind, where it’s warm, dark, dry and full of nooks for nesting.  Rodents can damage your vehicle by chewing through power steering lines, filling engine intakes with nuts, and plugging up air-conditioning ducts with their nests.  And because some car parts are made from renewable resources, such as soy-based wire coverings or body insulation made of natural products, the car could become a smorgasbord of treats for rodents, whose snacking can result in costly damage for car owners. 

“Gnawed wires cause a variety of electrical problems, including engine no-starts. Unfortunately, the cost to make repairs can run into hundreds of dollars and is not always covered under the owner’s new car warranty or car insurance,” says Tidwell.  “Rodent damage is not something a car owner would think of needing protection from, however, we’ve seen enough cases to say it’s a problem.”  


AAA Car Care Center technician Adam Roth's demonstration of rodents' favorite engine parts

CBS News: Squirrels stashed over 200 walnuts under the hood of woman’s car

AAA technicians advise:

  • If you have to park a seldom-used car in a driveway or on the street, be sure to start and drive it from time to time.  This can chase away mice that might be hibernating under your hood, and 30 minutes or so of operation will circulate the vehicle lubricants and help keep the battery charged.
  • While some people advocate using moth balls or pepper spray under the hood, fumes from these products are unhealthy for humans as well. Alternatives include cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil, or more conventional measures such as mouse traps, poisons and ultrasonic repellant devices.
  • A number of non-toxic, plant-based rodent repellants are also available, and copper screening (not plastic or other metals) can be used to seal off air intake openings because rats don’t like its taste.


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Mailing Address:
7777 Brewster Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19159

AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Pennsylvania.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information, visit

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