DENVER (May 26, 2021) - The floodgates are opening: A year's worth of pent-up travel demand is about to be unleashed as 34 million Americans, among them nearly 650,000 Coloradans , prepare for a Memorial Day road trip. That's great news. The downside? Many of their vehicles just won't be road-trip ready after a year of pandemic-related neglect.
All told, AAA expects to rescue more than 468,000 Americans over Memorial Day weekend, the vast majority of whom will suffer a breakdown easily avoided with a simple vehicle inspection. Drivers can find a mechanic they can trust at AAA.com/AutoRepair.
"We've seen it since March of last year: Vehicles that have spent more time in the driveway than on the roadway are the most likely to break down," said Skyler McKinley, regional director of public affairs for AAA. "Luckily, a pre-trip inspection will go a long way to make sure you won't spend the holiday on the roadside."
Avoid a Blowout
The top three reasons drivers call AAA? Flat tires, dead batteries, and lockouts. Your tires are where the rubber meets the road. If neglected, tires can create serious consequences - ranging from a simple flat to a dangerous highway blowout.
Check your tires once a month at minimum, and just before taking a long trip. Inspect all four tires and, if you have one, don't forget the spare. Look for cuts, gouges, or sidewall bulges. Drivers should pay special attention to both tire-inflation pressure and tire-tread depth.
• Check Tire Inflation Pressure - Check tire pressure when the car has been idle and tires are cool. Inflate as needed to the vehicle manufacturer's recommended pressure, as listed in the owner's manual and on the sticker on the driver side door. Do NOT use the number on the tire sidewall.
• Check Tire Tread Depth - Insert a quarter upside down into the grooves. If you see the top of George Washington's head, it is time for new tires. Be sure to check in multiple spots across your tire to diagnose any uneven wear patterns.
Additional Checklist Items
• Listen to and feel the brakes - If you hear a grinding sound or feel a vibration when applying the brakes, take your vehicle to an auto repair shop for a brake inspection. A service professional will check the brake system for fluid leaks, and the pads, rotors, shoes and drums.
• Secure and test the battery - Make sure cable connections are clean and tight, and the hold-down hardware is secure. Have a service professional do a battery check to determine remaining capacity. AAA members can request a free battery check at AAA.com/Battery.
• Top off engine oil and other fluids - Check that engine oil, coolant and brake, transmission and power-steering fluids are at the correct levels for safe vehicle operation. When adding fluids, use products that meet the specifications listed in the owner's manual.
• Replace wiper blades and replenish windshield cleaner - Rubber wiper blades naturally deteriorate over time - usually around six months in Colorado's climate. If wipers streak or fail to clear the windshield thoroughly, replace the blades. Fill the windshield washer reservoir with fluid formulated to remove insects and other debris, and test to make sure the nozzles spray adequately.
• Replenish emergency kit supplies - AAA recommends keeping a well-stocked emergency kit in your vehicle. Include a flashlight and extra fresh batteries, first-aid supplies, drinking water, non-perishable snacks for people and pets, car battery booster cables, emergency flares or reflectors, a rain poncho, a basic tool kit, duct tape, gloves and shop rags or paper towels.
Be Prepared for a Breakdown
Drivers who find themselves stranded can reach AAA by calling or texting "HELP" to 1-800-AAA-HELP, by visiting AAA.com/Service , or by using the AAA mobile app (available on Google Play or in the App Store).
About AAA - The Auto Club Group
AAA Colorado is a proud part of The Auto Club Group (ACG), the second-largest AAA club in North America with more than 14 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 60 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA's mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.