AAA Consumer Survey Data, The Top 4 Vehicle Maintenance Myths

AAA Consumer Survey Data, The Top 4 Vehicle Maintenance Myths

Survey examines when motorists should get vehicle maintenance & debunks common myths
April S. Engram
automotive maintenance fact vs truth

Summer is here and so is the road trip, but is your vehicle ready? AAA Western and Central New York has tips for motorists to make sure their car is “road trip ready,” which means getting an inspection before heading out on a long road trip. 

Consumers should also know the importance of regular maintenance, even when a trip is not planned. Not only does it keep the vehicle in top shape, it also gives the repair shop the chance to get to know the customer and their vehicle better and identify issues before they become costly repairs. 

AAA conducted a survey to examine how consumers decide when it’s time for routine service as well as if they hold any common vehicle maintenance myths. The survey results were interesting: 

Most Common Methods Consumers Use to Determine When their Vehicle Needs  Service
Method Oil Change Other Service
Sticker on windshield from repair shop 33% N/A
Mileage compared to manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule 29% 30%
Reminder from car’s on-board computer  29% 20%
Mechanic’s recommendation when at shop N/A 22%


AAA found that most consumers either follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended schedule, reminders from their car’s on-board system or advice from their repair shop, which is what AAA suggests consumers do when it comes to deciding on routine service.

However, when it comes to common vehicle maintenance myths, consumers are less informed.

1.    Oil changes – 45% believe their oil should be changed every 3,000 miles. MYTH! 
Most engine oil today contains lubricants and other additives that extend the life of the oil. This means for cars 15 years or newer, oil changes are recommended at intervals of 5,000 to 7,500 miles. If you opt for full-synthetic oil, it might go as far as 15,000 miles between services. 
The bottom line:  always follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule for when to change your oil. 

2.    Battery life – 42% believe a car battery lasts 5 years. MYTH! 
Typically, a car battery lasts between 3 – 5 years and sometimes longer but driving habits and climate are both big factors in affecting battery life. AAA responded to 2.1 million battery-related calls last summer and expects the volumes will return to 2019 levels and possibly even increase by 5% this summer. 
The bottom line:  if your battery is approaching the three-year mark, the only way to know for sure its condition, is to get it tested. AAA does offer mobile battery testing in most areas.

3.    Vehicle warranties – 31% believe that in order to maintain a vehicle warranty, all service must be performed at the dealer. MYTH! 
Consumers can get regular maintenance and repairs at any facility of their choice. 
The bottom line:  consumers need to always document any work done by a facility other than the dealer or manufacturer in order to maintain the warranty.  

4.    Brake fluid – 19% believe that brake fluid doesn’t need to be changed. MYTH! 
The brakes are the most important safety system on a vehicle. Most manufacturers recommend replacing brake fluid at two- or three-year intervals. 
The bottom line:  it is important to follow this schedule since brake fluid attracts and absorbs water, which can corrode internal brake system parts and lead to failure or other costly damage.

When it comes to finding a trusted repair shop, 21 percent of consumers say they don’t have a repair shop they trust, but AAA makes it easy to find one. AAA’s Approved Auto Repair shops offer consumers what they want when it comes to confidence, cost and convenience. With 7,000 facilities located across North America, finding one nearby is simple!

AAA Automotive offers several services to members including roadside assistance, battery service, auto discounts, and more! Learn more: 

AAA Automotive

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