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AAA Anticipates 7.3 Million Stranded Motorists This Summer

The nation's largest motor club expects rise in roadside assistance requests, offers motorists tips to avoid becoming stranded

ORLANDO, Fla., May 7 With the summer travel season looming, AAA announced today it anticipates coming to the rescue of 7.3 million stranded motorists this summer. During the months of June, July and August, AAA expects a rise of nearly 1.5 percent in roadside assistance requests over the same timeframe in 2008.

"AAA believes a combination of lower gas prices, consumers holding onto their vehicles longer and some motorists cutting regular maintenance from their budgets will drive an increase in the need for roadside assistance this summer," said AAA Automotive Vice President Marshall L. Doney.

On a yearly average, AAA is able to remedy problems at the roadside two out of three times, avoiding the need for an inconvenient vehicle tow. However, the motor club finds the number of motorists who suffer major vehicle problems that do require a tow usually spikes during the summer months. This summer, AAA estimates it will tow nearly 3.2 million vehicles.

Find problems before they arise

"No one wants to have their day disrupted by a broken-down vehicle -- especially when they are on vacation. Many of the problems that end up with the vehicle on the back of a tow truck could have been prevented with regular maintenance," Doney said.

Whether planning a summer road trip or continuing a regular commute to work, AAA recommends two basic things motorists can do to decrease the likelihood of their vehicle leaving them stranded:

  --  Have your vehicle serviced regularly based on the manufacturer's
      recommended maintenance schedule. This is the best way to catch
      problems before they arise.
  --  Identify a quality repair shop, and use that facility for all of your
      vehicle repairs and maintenance. Repeated use of a trustworthy shop
      allows a motorist to develop a good working relationship with the
      service staff, and allows the repair technicians to get to know the
      vehicle and make needed service recommendations in a timely manner.

AAA offers a free public service to help consumers find quality auto repair facilities that meet and maintain high professional standards for training, equipment, cleanliness and customer service. Consumers can look for the AAA Approved Auto Repair sign at local auto repair facilities, or search for a nearby AAA Approved shop online at

Flat tires spike in summer

The number of motorists seeking assistance from AAA with flat tires traditionally rises during the summer months. The motor club estimates it will come to the rescue of more than a million motorists with flat tires this summer -- more than any other season.

While it can be difficult to avoid an errant nail in a tire, some tire problems can be caught or prevented before motorists hit the road. To ward off tire trouble, AAA recommends:

  1. Regularly check and adjust tire pressures to the vehicle manufacturer's
     recommended settings. Inspect the tire sidewalls for cuts and bulges,
     and check the tread for excessive or uneven wear that indicates the
     need for wheel alignment and/or tire replacement.
  2. For maximum life, rotate tires at the mileage intervals specified in
     the owner's manual. Note that some vehicles use differently-sized front
     and rear tires that cannot be rotated.
  3. Don't forget the spare tire. Make sure the spare tire is properly
     inflated and in good condition.

  Summer heats up battery corrosion

Many motorists are aware that cold weather can take its toll on automobile batteries, but few realize that summer heat also contributes to battery failure. Summer heat accelerates the rate of corrosion on vehicle's battery terminals, which can leave you stranded without warning. AAA anticipates it will jump start or replace more than 1.3 million batteries this summer.

  Basic battery care can help prevent unexpected problems on the road:

  1. Ensure the battery cables are securely attached.
  2. Keep the battery terminals free of corrosion. It is not enough to
     simply remove external corrosion; proper cleaning requires
     disconnecting the cables to clean the areas where their ends contact
     the battery terminals.
  3. Most batteries have a three to five year service life. If your battery
     is nearing the end of its lifecycle, have it tested at a AAA Approved
     Auto Repair shop or by AAA Mobile Battery Service to determine if it is
     time for a replacement.

AAA Mobile Battery Service is available in many areas to test AAA members' vehicle batteries and provide on-site replacement, if needed.