More vehicle breakdowns expected as Ohioans return to work


COLUMBUS — As Ohioans begin returning to work during the next couple weeks, AAA expects an increase in the number of vehicle breakdowns. To make sure vehicles are ready when it’s time to return to work, AAA urges Ohioans to take their vehicle out for a drive now to identify any issues and prevent others before they arise.

“Many motorists parked their cars in March as Ohio’s Stay at Home Order began, and are now going out to find that their car either won’t start or has problems with tires, lights or other vehicle components,” said Donald Paxton, director repair network for AAA Ohio Auto Club. “The best thing you can do is to start your car and drive it now. This will charge the battery, circulate the fluids and enable you to check the dash for warning lights.”

While the number of calls for roadside assistance initially fell when the Stay at Home Order began, AAA is already starting to see an increase in the number of Ohioans experiencing vehicle trouble, as many get ready to head back to work. The auto club expects this trend to continue as the weather warms and traffic increases.

Top Automotive Issues:

Automotive experts say the following are the biggest vehicle issues Ohioans will face in the coming weeks:

Tires: Corrosion build-up on chrome and aluminum wheels can lead to slow leaks in tire pressure. Because of this, vehicles that have been sitting for extended periods of time may have low tire pressure and flat spots on the bottom of the tires. Driving on low tires can damage the tire and destroy it from the inside out. Be sure to check tire pressure before taking your vehicle out for a drive. If it’s low, fill it to the level indicated by the sticker on the driver’s side door jamb and in your vehicle owner’s manual.

Batteries: The combination of vehicles sitting during the Stay at Home Order and temperature swings during the winter and spring is leading to an increase in dead batteries. During April, the number of battery-related calls AAA Ohio Auto Club responded to was 40 percent higher than last April. While battery life depends on the age of the battery, allowing a vehicle to sit too long without driving it can drain the battery. Through its Mobile Battery Program, AAA can go out to members’ homes to test and replace batteries on the spot.

Breakdowns requiring tows: While AAA has been able to get 60 percent of the vehicles on the go without needing a tow so far during the Stay at Home Order, automotive experts say the number of vehicles needing a tow will likely increase as the weather warms. Keeping up on routine maintenance can help prevent these hard breakdowns that require tows.

Lights: This is one of the most overlooked items on vehicles, but lights are critical for visibility. When vehicles sit, moisture can build up in vehicle lights. When the bulb is turned on it produces heat. The combination of the moisture and heat can cause lights to burn out. It’s important that motorists ensure lights are in working order before driving.

Spring Tune-Up:

To help prevent breakdowns as the temperatures start to warm, AAA also recommends Ohio drivers perform a typical spring tune-up. In addition to items mentioned above, this should include ensuring the undercarriage is clean from winter road treatments, replacing wiper blades, inspecting fluids (washer fluid, engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, anti-freeze and brake fluid), and even checking the air conditioning system. AAA’s Car Care Plus facilities have already seen an increase in the number of cars coming in for air conditioning repairs. This will likely continue into the summer.

Services Offered Safely During COVID-19 Pandemic:

As Ohioans return to work, AAA Ohio Auto Club will be there for those experiencing vehicle breakdowns with 24/7 Emergency Road Service for all members and free Emergency Road Service to healthcare workers and first responders.

In addition, in central Ohio, AAA will continue offering to tow members’ vehicles to and from AAA Car Care Plus facilities, so members don’t need to leave home to have their vehicle serviced. Central Ohio residents should call their local AAA Car Care Plus center to see if they live in a qualifying zip code.

Staff report

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