Vehicle Breakdowns Hit a Record High in 2015: AAA

vehicle breakdowns hit a record high in 2015 aaa

More Americans enjoyed a vacation on the side of the road last year than ever before, according to the American Automobile Association.

Vehicle breakdowns reached a new high in 2015, with 32 million calls logged to AAA from drivers in distress. Of the most common problems, vehicles less than five years old make up a large part of the tally. So, what’s the deal? Are vehicles going backwards in quality?

Short answer: no, but they are rapidly accumulating technology, and that can lead to issues. Dead batteries, flat tires and key problems topped the list of breakdown calls, and newer vehicles saw the most calls for tire, key, and fuel problems. That hints that certain automotive trends can shoulder some of the blame for the stranded motorists.

“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, AAA managing director of Automotive Solutions, in a release.

Locking your keys in your car is a time-honored tradition, and AAA still makes plenty of trips to help those who can’t find a wire coat hanger. Four million, to be exact. The growing use of keyless ignition systems now add variety to those calls for help.

Keyless 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 still running,” AAA stated.

Full-size spare tires are as scarce as supermarket food in Venezuela, and the number of vehicles equipped with a donut spare is shrinking. Tire inflator kits don’t always repair the damage, leading to more calls for assistance. Due to this problem and others, one in five newer vehicles that AAA responded to had to be towed to a repair facility.

Going by AAA’s data, it looks like the best tool to have on you is a charged phone with a good calling plan.

[Image: Michael Kappel/ Flickr]

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  • Frylock350 Frylock350 on Jul 21, 2016

    This all amounts to more reasons that trucks are awesome! Mine has plenty of sidewall (P265/65R18 tires), a full-size spare, and a key. Its also painfully easy to get under to jack up to change to a spare if needed. I dislike smartkeys not because I'm a luddite; but because I don't think the car's ignition is a binary function and I don't like the lack of an "instant-off" switch. When the Toyota acceleration fiasco was fresh I remember thinking that none of this would have resulted in accidents if drivers could either shift into neutral or instantly kill the engine. Cadillac used to have a cool hybrid; it was a smartkey that powered a permanently fixed key on the column. It had the advantages of both. I guess I just don't like push-buttons. Any vehicle that's designed to tow a significant amount of weight will have a full-size spare.

    • Kyree Kyree on Jul 21, 2016

      Fair point. My car *never* locks me out of neutral, even though the gear selector is electronic and has no mechanical linkage. It's mainly the ones with monostatic shifters (see BMW's joystick) that have the propensity to do that. Mind you, if you're in a runaway car and you shut off the engine with the conventional key, you lose power steering and power brakes...which is dangerous. To me, unless there's a fire, being able to shift into neutral and decouple the engine from the wheels is infinitely more useful than being able to shut off the engine. And as far as that "smart knob" that functioned like a key, I assume you're talking about the one on the previous CTS. But Nissan also had it on its early smart-key cars. We had a 2005 Murano with it. So did Acura, on the final RL.

  • Runs_on_h8raide Runs_on_h8raide on Jul 21, 2016

    That's what these people get for not buying Hellcats.

  • IBx1 For all this time with the hellcat engine, everything they made was pathetic automatic scum save for the Challenger. A manual Durango, Grand Cherokee, Charger, 300C, et al would have been the real last gasp for driving enthusiasts. As it is, the party is long over.
  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.
  • Dlc65688410 Please stop, we can't take anymore of this. Think about doing something on the Spanish Pegaso.
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