Avoid a Winter 'Brrr'eakdown

AAA releases holiday roadside assistance projections


Phoenix. Dec. 14, 2012. As 1.7 million – or one in four – Arizonans take to the roads for the year-end holidays, AAA anticipates it will assist more than 38,000 stranded motorists across the state this month. The auto club will be busy with lockouts, battery replacements, jump starts, changing tires, towing vehicles for repair and more. 


“When the weather turns frightful, the least delightful activity is being stranded on the side of the road,” said John Walter, director of automotive repair for AAA Arizona. “Please take the time to make certain your vehicle is properly maintained and prepared for holiday driving to ensure it gets you and your loved ones to your destination safely and without incident.”


AAA Arizona expects more than 8,700 requests for help with a dead battery. The auto club is also planning to retrieve more than 5,500 sets of keys locked inside vehicles, and change more than 5,000 tires this month. 


Drivers can avoid most 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 your 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. Fill the windshield washer reservoir with winter detergent fluid to prevent freeze up.
  • Tires. A tire loses about a pound of pressure for every 10-degree drop in temperature, so check the pressure frequently and maintain the recommended levels found on the driver’s door jamb. 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. Arizona’s summer heat puts auto batteries to the test, while our state’s winter temperatures can quickly sap the energy that’s left. Batteries don’t always give warning signs before they fail, so test strength and ensure connections are tight and free of corrosion to avoid an unexpected failure. AAA Mobile Battery Service comes to members for on-the-spot testing and installation.
  • Belts and hoses. Replace 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.

While preventative measures help keep 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 Owned or Approved Auto Repair facilities. To find the closest facility, visit AAA.com/repair.


AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.