Three Reasons AAA Seeing Unprecedented Battery Calls
Covid-19, Summer Travel and Extreme Heat all contributing to high call volume
AAA has been experiencing an unprecedented demand for battery service, at times even dominating the need for tow service, which is highly unusual for the Emergency Roadside Assistance providers. And, servicing those calls is not always as simple as a quick jump start - more than 30% of the calls have required a AAA technician to install a new battery on the spot.
“This sharp increase in battery calls is something AAA began seeing in early April, when Members found that vehicles, which had been sitting idle for a time, wouldn’t start when they were needed,” says Amy Parmenter, spokesperson for AAA in Greater Hartford. “Now that summer is here, there are additional factors at play as well”.
Summer travel, which, this year, is predominantly road trips, and extreme heat are both contributing to the number of calls AAA is getting for dead batteries.
By the numbers
In April and May, with overall call volume down about 25% over last year, calls for battery service were up almost 25% - and the number of new batteries installed during that two month period was up almost 60%.
In June, as call volume returned to near normal levels, dead battery calls remained higher than usual – with AAA installing new batteries on about a third of those calls.
3 Reasons for Increase in Dead Batteries
- Covid-19 – Batteries lose their charge when they sit idle for an extended period of time. Gadgets and electronics found in many newer or high end vehicles can drain batteries even more quickly.
- Road Trips – With air travel down almost 75%, Americans are returning this summer to the Great American Road Trip. AAA call volume, including calls for dead batteries, is typically a reflection of just how many people are hitting the roads.
- Summer Heat – weather extremes stress batteries, stress that is cumulative over time. So, with each heat wave, AAA is more likely to see weather-related calls for battery service.
The number of calls for battery service has been so highly unusual for such an extended period, the AAA Allied Group is hanging out the help wanted sign.
“Our members count on AAA regardless of the circumstances – in a pandemic, over a holiday weekend or during a heat wave,” Parmenter says. “It is critical that we always have skilled technicians on hand to answer that call”.
Battery Warning Signs:
- The starter motor cranks the engine slowly
- Battery/Charging warning lamp illuminates on the dashboard
- In older models, dim incandescent headlights, particularly when the car is idling, indicates a weak battery.
Not every failing battery reveals itself through obvious symptoms so take precautions to avoid a dead battery situation.
AAA Tips for Battery Care and Service
- Start your engines - Even if you are not driving to work or going out every day, make sure you start your vehicle once every few days to ensure the battery has a strong charge
- Keep your battery clean – Periodically pop the hood and look for corrosion on the battery terminals. If you see any, clean it off with a small, stiff brush and a solution of baking soda and water. After removing the corrosion, rinse the battery with water.
- Check to make sure the terminal connections aren’t loose - If they are, tighten with a wrench.
- Get a Battery Check Up – The average battery lasts 3-5 years. Before hitting the road, basic vehicle maintenance should include a battery check, available for free at any AAA Approved Auto Repair or the AAA Car Care Center in Southington. Testing equipment today can often give you a good sense of how much life a battery has left.
- Call for FREE AAA Mobile Car Battery Service at your home or place of business – Members can call AAA at any time for a free, contactless, battery checkup and, if need be, AAA will install a new battery on the spot. Don’t wait until your stranded roadside!
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than one million members in Connecticut. 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 www.aaa.com.