"Reduce your chances of breakdowns by following all of the vehicle maintenance recommendations in your owner’s manual."
...Automotive Research Center 11/29/2011
What Repairs Are Needed When Cars Break Down And How Much Do They Cost?
Emergency Road Service (ERS) is the number one reason members join AAA. The peace-of-mind that comes from knowing that if they have any car-related difficulties on the road AAA will come to their rescue with quality service is quite valuable. Even with this, when your car breaks down, it is still a stressful occasion.
The Automobile Club of Southern California’s AUTOMOTIVE RESEARCH CENTER (ARC) is striving to identify preventative maintenance and proactive repair steps motorists can take to prevent break downs from happening in the first place. One of the steps in this process is to learn what actually goes wrong with cars that break down.
AAA has a program called Approved Auto Repair (AAR) that allows high quality repair facilities to be part of the AAR network if they meet stringent standards regarding technician training and licensing, quality of facilities, and allow binding arbitration. A program has been put in place that tracks a member’s ERS call that ends up with the car being towed to a participating AAR facility. The type of call and the subsequent necessary repairs are loaded into a database.
The ARC analyzed this data for 6466 completed repairs at participating AAR facilities in Southern California during the time frame from 5-15-2008 to 11-15-2010. The average cost of these repairs, including any incidental maintenance (i.e. an oil change) that might have been performed at the same time, was $629. The following table lists the type of repairs, their average cost, the average AAA member discount, and the number of those repairs conducted.
The most common repairs needed on towed vehicles were fuel pump (543), alternator (347), battery (308), starter (277), radiator (216), transmission (194), and hoses (168).
Motorists can avoid many of these breakdowns by taking some simple preventative steps.
- Fuel pump life can be extended by avoiding driving with the fuel level below1/8 tank and by changing the fuel filter according to manufacturer’s recommendations (often every 30,000 miles).
- Batteries should be tested (once or twice per year) by a qualified technician after they reach 3 years of age. When the battery becomes weak, it should be replaced before it fails. The AAA battery service can check your battery and charging system, and if needed replace your battery with a competitively-priced high quality unit at your home or office. Also, battery life can be extended by keeping the terminals clean and by being sure the water is always filled on non-sealed batteries.
- Radiators and transmissions will last longer if you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for coolant/lubricant changes. Be sure to use the correct fluids as specified by the manufacturer.
- Hoses and belts can be inspected visually. Replace cracked or frayed belts and hoses that are bulging, seeping, or are exceedingly brittle or mushy. These should be changed according to the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule regarding mileage or length of service.
- Tire inflation pressure should be checked at least once per month when the tires are cold. Use the manufacturer’s recommended inflation settings (not the number on the tire sidewall). These values can be found on a label located in the driver side door jamb, glove box, or fuel filler flap. Rotate your tires according to the schedule and pattern in the owner’s manual. These steps will enhance the durability of your tires, while improving your fuel economy, handling and safety. Tread depth should be periodically checked, and when the tread gets low, the tires should be replaced.
Finally, breaking down on the side-of-the-road, or even in your driveway is always a stressful situation. Some instances are unavoidable, but you can reduce your chances of having these experiences by following all of the vehicle maintenance recommendations in your owner’s manual. The ARC also recommends periodic vehicle inspection by a qualified technician. AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities often offer specials on vehicle inspections and discounts for AAA members. You can locate these high-quality facilities at www.aaa.com.
BE SAFE IN 2012!
Aloha .... Anita : )