Report: Older Cars Face Twice the Risk

AAA expects to rescue 7.7 million drivers at the roadside this summer


DENVER (May 1, 2018) – As 64 percent of family travelers gear up for a road trip this summer, AAA warns that the majority of U.S. vehicles are at a higher-than-average risk for a breakdown. A new analysis of AAA roadside assistance data shows that vehicles 10 years and older are twice as likely to end up stranded on the side of the road compared to newer vehicles. And those same vehicles are four times more likely to encounter a problem serious enough to require a tow to a repair facility.

"It's intuitive that older vehicles are more likely to encounter a serious breakdown, of course, but many motorists adopt a 'It could never happen to me' mentality when it comes to their vehicle," said AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley. "The truth is that many Coloradans are driving cars at a high risk for a breakdown because our dry climate, by preventing some wear and tear, keeps older vehicles on the road even when many components are past their prime." 

Fortunately, most roadside trouble is avoidable. For vehicles of any age, old and new, AAA advises drivers make a good B-E-T to stay on the road by having a vehicle's Battery, Engine and Tires checked before embarking on a summer excursion. Long trips coupled with hot weather places additional strain on vehicles, and often accelerates dormant issues. When these key systems are in good working order, AAA data indicate the odds of encountering a serious breakdown are greatly reduced. 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 -- and we come to you.
  • Engine cooling system failures. The radiator, thermostat, or water pump -- or engine parts such as the timing belt -- pose special risks to 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

A professional and thorough vehicle inspection reduces the chance of a serious breakdown. It can save money, too: The cost of an inspection pales in comparison to the several hundred to several thousand dollars it may cost to get a broken car back on the road. That's an especially important consideration for the one in three U.S. drivers who cannot afford an unexpected vehicle repair

"As you're making your summer road trip plans, smart money is on stopping in to your mechanic for an inspection," McKinley said. "When you factor in the cost of an interrupted trip and emergency repair costs, having a vehicle inspected and proactively repaired will cost much less in the long run."

AAA helps take the guesswork out of finding a trusted repair facility with its 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. Shops with the AAR designation signal to drivers a vetted facility, inspected annually, that will offer fair pricing and quality service. To locate one, motorists can visit Additionally, AAA also offers a free repair cost calculator, also found at , that provides drivers the ability to estimate the cost of a repair or to verify a quote received for their vehicle.


About AAA Colorado

More than 660,000 members strong, AAA Colorado is the state's most prominent advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services - as well as member-exclusive savings. For more information, visit