PHILADELPHIA, PA — After a year of anticipation, it’s clear that many Philly-area residents are ready to hit the road. AAA automotive technicians in the Philadelphia 5 county region have been busy with vehicles that haven’t been driven as much due to pandemic restrictions. 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.
A record high 69.3% of travelers, since the pandemic began, say they are “ready” to travel, a sign of increased travel optimism as the vaccine rolls out across the country, according to a nationwide Destination Analysts survey conducted April 2-4, 2021. The vast majority, or 77.7%, of those surveyed are also now actively dreaming about and planning travel, the highest number this year. This includes road trips, involving vehicles that haven’t seen a lot of action during the pandemic.
“As a result of the pandemic, and the stay at home orders, we saw an increase in battery issues and flat tires caused by slow leaks that weren’t tended to while cars were sitting while people stayed off the roads.” says Nate Engel, Car Care Manager at the AAA Car Care Center in Downingtown. “In addition to checking your battery and tires, an oil change and fluid check may be a good precaution before a long road trip, especially if the car has not been driven for many months.”
During the summer of 2020 (June 20 – September 22), AAA came to the rescue of more than 120,000 motorists in the Philadelphia 5 county region at the height of the pandemic. AAA roadside assistance calls for dead car batteries last summer eclipsed summer 2019 call volume due to COVID-19. Cars sat for weeks and months at a time, not driven as they normally would be, therefore draining car batteries at a higher rate than usual. This year, AAA is preparing to rescue even more members as pent up travel demand and an increase in vaccine distribution spurs 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 Engel. “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.
AAA Car Care Centers in Chester County
707 East Gay Street
West Chester, Pennsylvania 19380
105 Quarry Road
Downingtown, Pennsylvania 19335
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.
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