The report said that vehicles newer than 5 years old have a higher proportion of tire, key and fuel related issues than older vehicles.
Technological and design advancements in vehicles haven’t reduced the need for drivers to seek roadside assistance and there is new evidence that they actually may be contributing to more calls for help.
A report from AAA this week said that they “rescued” 32 million drivers in 2015, a record. Flat tires, keys locked inside and battery failures were the top roadside assistance requests. Last year’s figure was roughly 29 million.
AAA pointed to automakers removing spare tires and shifting to electronic keyless ignition as two of the main culprits for roadside assistance requests -- noting that both “may have unintended consequences.”
The report said that vehicles newer than 5 years old have a higher proportion of tire, key and fuel related issues than older vehicles. One out of five service calls for a newer vehicle required a tow to a repair facility, AAA said.
“Sleek, low profile tires are highly susceptible to damage, electronic keyless ignitions can zap battery life and despite advanced warning systems, more than half a million drivers ran out of gas last year,” said Cliff Ruud, managing director of Automotive Solutions at AAA, in a statement.
It’s become commonplace for automakers to replace spare tires with run-flats and inflator kits in order to reduce vehicle weight and maximize storage space.
However, AAA pointed out that tire inflator kits can only remedy some flat tire situations. It said consumers should consider adding a spare as an option before making a purchase.
AAA also compiled a list of vehicles in 2015 that did not come with a spare tire, which was one-third of all vehicles, AAA said. Keyless ignition systems can drain the battery life when keys are stored too close to the vehicle and can lock a driver out of the vehicle while the engine is running, AAA added.
To counter battery issues, AAA recommends that drivers always take their keys when exiting the vehicle, avoid exposing keyless-entry remote or smart keys to water and replace the key or fob battery when recommend by the vehicle manufacturer.
AAA said they had over 4 million requests stemming from locked out drivers alone in 2015.