Summer Heat Drives Up Auto Breakdowns, AAA Says
19 April 1999Summer Heat Drives Up Auto Breakdowns, AAA Says
ORLANDO, Fla., April 19 -- The long, hot summer in 1998 was hard on motorists and their cars, resulting in a substantial increase in demand for AAA emergency road service. AAA responded to 29.9 million calls from stranded motorists last year, up 1 million from 1997. "Normally winter weather is to blame for large service increases," said Marshall L. Doney, vice president, AAA Automotive Services. "In this case it was the heat factor that increased call volume." The increase in the number of calls was nearly identical to AAA's membership growth in 1998, which topped 41 million. Only 44.5 percent of the calls to AAA resulted in a tow, with the rest of the stranded motorists being returned to the road with AAA's assistance. Twenty-two percent of the calls were from motorists who were unable to start their vehicle, usually the result of a dead battery or electrical system failure. Other reasons AAA members required emergency assistance included: lockouts, 16 percent; flat tires, 11 percent; and out-of-fuel, 1.5 percent. Miscellaneous problems, such as vehicles needing extrication, accounted for the remaining 5 percent of calls. AAA provides emergency road service to members through a network of nearly 13,000 service contractors who operate more than 38,000 service vehicles -- the largest such fleet in North America. AAA also operates the Approved Auto Repair program, which identifies repair facilities that have met AAA's stringent criteria for customer satisfaction, equipment and training. There are more than 4,400 AAA approved shops in 32 states and the District of Columbia. Details of AAA's automotive services were presented to 1,000 delegates at AAA's 96th annual meeting in San Diego, California. AAA is a not-for-profit federation of 91 clubs with more than 1,100 offices providing its nearly 42 million members in the United States and Canada with travel, insurance, financial and auto-related services.