Public Relations Manager, VA
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Senior Specialist, Public and Government Affairs, VA
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RICHMOND, VA(Friday, April 16, 2021) –After a year of anticipation, it’s clear that many Virginians are ready to hit the road. AAA automotive technicians across Virginia have been busy with vehicles that haven’t been driven as much due to pandemic restrictions. Battery replacements during the first three months of 2021 in Virginia were up 27% over the same time period in 2020. Now with the spring and summer travel seasons upon us, April Car Care Month is the perfect time to make sure your vehicle is truly road ready.
“As a result of the pandemic, and stay at home orders, we have seen an increase in battery problems as people stayed off the roads. Some drivers are finding their batteries aren’t lasting as long as in previous years.” says Brent Stegner, Manager of Car Care at AAA Swift Creek. “And if the car has not been driven for many months, an oil change and fluid check may be a good precaution before a long road trip.”
During the summer of 2020 (June 20 - September 22), AAA came to the rescue of more than 110,000 drivers in Virginia during the height of the pandemic. One out of every three calls to AAA’s Roadside Rescue last summer was for battery-related issues. This year, AAA is preparing to rescue even more members as pent up travel demand and increased vaccine distribution spur on travel.
AAA Automotive experts say the top three types of vehicle issues that could derail a road trip are:
- Battery-related issues, including faulty starters or alternators. A battery on the brink of dying rarely warns a driver before it fails, but having a simple battery test will. Through its mobile battery program, AAA offers its members free testing of a vehicle’s battery and electrical system.
- Engine cooling system failures, such as the radiator, thermostat or water pump or engine parts such as the timing belt, most prominently in vehicles age 10 years and older. Much like a battery, the components of the engine cooling system may fail without warning. Drivers should look for fluids such as coolant pooling underneath the vehicle when it is parked as an indication of an impending problem.
- Tire damage severe enough to require repair or replacement. Drivers can minimize this risk by checking tread depth, tire pressure and whether their vehicle is equipped with a spare tire.
“Having your vehicle serviced by professionals who are trained to identify potential problems will help prevent breakdowns and often saves money on repairs," said Stegner. “The best way to keep a car in top shape is to have a trusted repair shop where you can go when it’s time for service.”
A key factor to making sure that the long awaited summer road trip is less stressful is to ensure the family vehicle is properly maintained. AAA understands that choosing a repair shop is a personal decision and when asked what was most important, consumers overwhelmingly choose the 3 C’s.
- CONFIDENCE ranked at the top of the list with 89% of consumers saying having a trusted relationship is important when choosing a repair shop for routine car maintenance.
- COST is the second most important factor when deciding where to take their car for service, important to 83% of consumers.
- Consumers also rank CONVENIENCE high on the list with shop hours (78%), located near home (78%) and ability to schedule appointments (77%) all tying for the third most important factor.
A professional and thorough vehicle inspection can help reduce the chance of a serious breakdown. If a car does end up at a repair shop, not only will a road trip be interrupted, drivers can expect to spend anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars to get back on the road.
Take the guesswork out of finding a trusted repair facility by trusting a local AAA Car Care Center or AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) facilities. These shops must adhere to a stringent set of standards for certifications, technical training, cleanliness, insurance requirements, and customer service set forth by AAA.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to more than 62 million members nationwide and more than one million members in Virginia. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a non-stock, membership corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can map a route, access a COVID travel restriction map, find local gas prices and electric vehicle charging stations, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information on joining or renewing a Membership, visit www.AAA.com.
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