Orlando, Florida – A new study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) has found that 62 per cent of motorists operate their vehicles under one or more severe service conditions, but only six per cent realize it, and more than half follow the wrong maintenance schedule based on it.

Owner’s manuals usually contain two different maintenance schedules, one for normal service and one for severe service, depending on how the vehicle is driven.

Vehicle manufacturers vary slightly on how they identify severe service driving. The AAA study asked motorists if they frequently drive on short trips of less than five miles (eight kilometres) in normal temperatures or less than ten miles (16 km) in freezing temperatures; drive in stop-and-go traffic in hot weather; drive at low speeds of less than 50 miles (80 km) for long distances; drive on roads that are dusty, muddy, or have salt, sand or gravel spread on the surface; or tow a trailer, carry a camper on a pickup truck, or transport items on a roof rack or in a car-top carrier.

“Manufacturers provide differing sets of recommendations for severe driving conditions because of the increased wear they put on vehicle components and fluids,” said John Nielsen, director of AAA Approved Auto Repair. “With increased traffic congestion and longer commutes becoming more common, many motorists do not realize what they think of as normal driving is actually severe when it comes to wear and tear on their vehicle.”

AAA recommends that drivers read the owner’s manual, learn what the manufacturer considers normal and severe service, make an honest assessment of their driving habits, and schedule service in accordance with the proper maintenance schedule.

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