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AAA Experts Made the List, Now Check it Twice to Avoid Being One of the 1.2 Million Motorists Stranded this Holiday Season

Proper vehicle maintenance can help holiday travelers avoid trouble on the road

ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As 84.4 million travelers take to the roads for the year-end holiday, AAA anticipates coming to the assistance of more than 1.2 million stranded motorists between December 19, 2012, and January 2, 2013. The nation's largest motor club will be busy with lockouts, battery replacements, jump starts, changing tires, extricating vehicles from snow, towing vehicles for repair and more. 

"Becoming stranded on the roadway is the last thing on anyone's holiday wish list," said Marshall L. Doney, AAA National Vice President, Automotive, Financial Services and E-Business.  "Whether you are staying local or planning a long distance road trip, having your vehicle properly maintained and prepared for holiday driving will help ensure it gets you and your loved ones to your destination safely and without incident."

AAA projects its roadside problem-solvers will be able to remedy the issues of more than three out of five stranded motorists at the roadside and send them on their way, but the remaining travelers will still need a tow this year-end holiday season.

More than 288,000 requests for help with a dead battery are expected, and among those, rescued AAA roadside service personnel will conveniently replace more than 80,000 failed batteries on the spot.   AAA also expects to retrieve more than 198,000 sets of keys locked inside vehicles, change more than 166,000 tires and perform more than 21,000 vehicle extrications during the year-end holiday period. 

Drivers can avoid the causes of some roadside breakdowns by keeping their vehicles properly maintained.  AAA advises motorists to follow their vehicle manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule and make sure their vehicle is ready for the rigors of year-end holiday driving. 

Here are a few things to add to your list before heading out for a holiday drive:

  • Antifreeze. Check antifreeze annually to ensure it will withstand the winter cold. A 50/50 mixture of coolant and water will protect against freezing.
  • Windshield wipers and washer fluid. Replace wiper blades if they do not clear the glass in a single swipe without streaking. Where appropriate, consider the use of special winter blades that offer improved performance in snow and ice conditions. Fill the windshield washer reservoir with winter detergent fluid to prevent freeze up.
  • Tires. Cold weather reduces tire inflation pressure, so check tire pressures frequently and maintain the vehicle manufacturer's recommended pressure found on the driver's door jamb—not the pressure stamped on the tire sidewall. Motorists should never reduce tire pressure in an attempt to increase traction on snow and ice. This does not work, and when the roads dry out it can cause excessive tire wear and vehicle handling problems.
  • Battery. Check for a secure fit and clean away any corrosion on the battery and its cable connections. If the battery is out of warranty, it's advisable to have it tested before cold weather hits. If replacement is necessary, have a certified technician help select the proper battery for your vehicle type and local climate. In many areas, AAA members can make an appointment to have a AAA Battery Service technician visit their home or office to check and replace batteries.
  • Belts and hoses. Replace accessory drive belts that are cracked, glazed or frayed, as well as coolant hoses that are visibly worn, brittle, bulging or excessively soft. Check for leaks around hose clamps and at the radiator and water pump.

Other important areas to have a certified technician check in preparation for winter include the vehicle's fluid levels, lights, brakes, exhaust system and heater/defroster. Throughout the winter driving season, motorists should continue to have regular services, including oil and filter changes, performed at the intervals recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

While preventative measures go a long way toward keeping motorists driving safely on the road, unexpected weather or vehicle problems may still arise and leave them stranded. AAA encourages motorists to update their emergency roadside kit for winter to include a mobile phone and car charger; blankets; a flashlight with extra batteries; a first-aid kit; drinking water; a small shovel; a sack of sand, cat litter or traction mats; windshield scraper and brush; battery booster cables; and emergency flares or reflectors.

Motorists seeking a trustworthy repair shop to help prepare their vehicle for winter driving are encouraged to visit one of AAA's more than 8,000 Approved Auto Repair facilities. AAA's network of approved repair shops is a free public service that enables consumers to identify professional auto shops staffed by certified technicians who are equipped with the proper tools and equipment to service today's high-tech automobiles. Consumers can find Approved Auto Repair facilities online at AAA.com/repair.

Android and iPhone users can download AAA Mobile, AAA's mobile smartphone app that provides selected AAA services for all motorists, such as mapping and gas price comparison, as well as member-exclusive benefits including roadside assistance and discounts.  AAA Membership is not required to download and use AAA apps, but is necessary to take advantage of unique member benefits such as roadside assistance.  For more information on AAA Mobile, visit AAA.com/Mobile.

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

AAA news releases, high resolution images, broadcast-quality video, fact sheets and podcasts are available on the AAA NewsRoom at NewsRoom.AAA.com.


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