Flat batteries are still the number one cause of breakdowns on Irish roads according to the ‘AA Ireland Annual Breakdown Review’. 30% of the 140,000 call outs attended by AA Rescue Services between October 09 and September 10 were a result of flat batteries the AA can reveal.
Of these 40,000 battery-related callouts, most were a result of faulty or old batteries that were in need of replacement. Among the other causes were head lights being left on, faulty door switches, use of electronics with the engine off, cars being left idle, colder temperatures and alternator problems. A large number of flat batteries are self-inflicted, eg by leaving lights on.
Punctures are the second most common cause, accounting for 12% of all AA Rescue callouts. After flat batteries and punctures, engine, clutch and alternator related faults are the most common. It appears that women are much more likely to call for help with a wheel change than men – they account for 15% of call outs to women but 9.5% of call outs to men.
“Cars are more complicated than ever these days and computers are a big part of that”, says David Murphy of AA Car Servicing, “Despite this, it’s the most basic faults our Patrolmen are called out to more often than not. AA Battery Assist supplied and fitted in the region of 3,500 batteries on the roadside last year!”
“We’re continuing to invest heavily in breakdown diagnostics, says AA Patrol Manager, Noel Keogh. “In the New Year, our entire fleet will be equipped with the latest ‘Midtronics Battery Analysers’ which will allow us to check batteries quicker and without even starting the car.”
Many AA call outs are the result of human error. Misfuelling, lost keys and locking the keys in the car between them account for 5% of call outs. A higher percentage of men misfuelled their cars than women, many of whom called upon the AA’s Fuel Assist Service, but a higher portion of women managed to lock their keys in the car.
“This time of year we place a higher demand on our car battery, says Murphy. “With less daylight, our lights are on longer and we’ve got the heating blasting away. To keep your battery in good working order this winter my advice to drivers is to:
- Have your battery tested specifically during annual servicing.
- Know how old your battery is. Batteries only last 3 – 5 years. If it’s sluggish to start in the mornings it could be sign that it’s on the way out!
- Turn off unnecessary electrical consuming components, e.g. heater, heated windscreens.
- At first start up in the mornings, don’t operate the heater fan until the engine is warmed up.
- Keep jumper cables in your boot
- Make sure your car gets a run daily during these colder months
AA Ireland is offering a brand new facility, ‘AA Car Servicing’. With ‘AA Car Servicing’ a skilled AA technician will come to your home or work place and service your car at a time that suits you. The service is limited to customers in Dublin & surrounding areas. More information is available at www.aaireland.ie/AA/Vehicle-checks/Service-And-Repair.aspx
Notes to the editor
Figure 1 – Class of breakdowns responded to by AA Rescue Services*
|Class||% of Total Jobs|
|Engine and Exhaust||8.7|
|Locks And Alarms||6.1|
Figure 2 – Components that caused the most problems*
|Component||% of Total Jobs|
|Key – Mechanical||2.2|
|Fuel Pump – Electrical||1.6|
|Fuel – Petrol||1.3|
|Fuel – Diesel||1.1|
|Immobilizer – Electrical||0.9|
|Battery (Replacement Declined)||0.9|
|ECU – Fuel/Engine Management||0.8|
|Key – Transporter||0.7|