As new cars become smarter, more connected and more autonomous, they’re apparently becoming less reliable.
Among the record 32 million motorists that received roadside service from AAA last year, new vehicles made up a disproportionate number of service calls, the auto club reports. Cars less than five years old had the largest share of the most common problems (battery failures, flat tires, and key issues), possibly due to manufacturer trends toward installing keyless ignition systems and removing spare tires.
“Vehicles today are advanced more than ever, yet are still vulnerable to breakdowns,” AAA’s managing director of automotive solutions Cliff Rudd said in a statement. “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.”
In a shift that AAA calls “alarming,” many manufacturers have removed the spare tire from some new models in order to reduce vehicle weight and boost fuel economy, replacing them with tire-inflator kits that don’t work for all flats. Twenty percent of calls to newer vehicles required a tow.
To prevent roadside breakdowns, AAA recommends that motorists only purchase vehicles that have a spare tire, check their tires once a month and batteries once a year after the third year.
The group also recommends that all drivers keep an emergency kit in their car, which includes a phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, and water and snacks.