In 2017 alone, AAA fielded over 32 million calls. Not surprisingly, most calls were for older vehicles. According to AAA’s fact sheet, “In 2017, 67 percent of calls AAA received for roadside assistance were for vehicles 10 years and older, while 33 percent of calls received were for newer vehicles (age 9 years and newer). Approximately thirty-five percent of the vehicles AAA responded to at the roadside required a tow to a repair facility. Of those vehicles, 81 percent were 10 years and older.” The most common reasons for breakdowns included battery and electrical issues, overheating, and blown tires.
AAA offered several pieces of advice for the rapidly approaching summer driving season. To avoid spending time on the shoulder, follow your vehicle’s recommended maintenance schedule, regularly test your battery, look out for pooled liquids after you’ve parked, and frequently inspect your tires.
According to Automotive News, the automotive industry is currently lobbying to make 95 octane gasoline the new standard for regular gasoline in the United States. 95 octane gasoline is currently the standard in Europe and is cited as a way to improve gas mileage while lowering greenhouse emissions. One automotive executive believes that using 95 octane fuel can increase fuel economy by approximately 3%.
According to the article, “Higher octane enables engineers to raise an engine’s compression ratio. That, in turn, increases horsepower and torque and helps the engine run more efficiently. Raising an engine’s compression may be the most cost-effective — and untapped — way to improve fuel economy and lower carbon dioxide emissions. Increasing compression usually requires a modification to the pistons or the cylinder head’s combustion chambers.”
One major roadblock in changing to 95 octane gasoline is the initial expense. For 95 octane fuel to be affordable, refiners would need to produce a high volume of the fuel. Whether the change will be made remains to be seen, but improved fuel efficiency should always be a major focus for automakers.