The AA is so confident in the ability of its patrol force to repair broken-down vehicles that it is now making a unique breakdown promise to its personal members – “to fix your car by the road or get you another one”.

The unique guarantee is being made to ensure that, if a quick roadside repair is not possible, AA members are still able to continue their journeys and keep on the move.

AA personal members could be offered one of 180 specially AA-branded smart cars located around the country, or the choice of another similar-sized car with the opportunity to upgrade to a larger vehicle if required.

Kerry Richardson, Director of AA Road Services says: “On those occasions where we can’t fix their faulty cars, we are determined to keep our members on the move. Providing personal members with a replacement vehicle will go a long way to removing the terrible stress and inconvenience that breaking down can bring.”

“In around 8 out of 10 of the 3.9 million breakdowns we attend each year, we are able to get our members on the road and moving again thanks to the resourcefulness of our highly-skilled patrol force. This new benefit will come to the rescue of those for whom a quick repair might not always be possible.”

AA personal members will be offered this flexible 24-hour service if their cars cannot be fixed, allowing them to either collect a courtesy car following a breakdown, or within 72 hours, at their convenience. During normal working hours the attending patrol will recover the member to the nearest Europcar depot to collect the courtesy car. Outside these hours members will be free to make their own way to the nearest Europcar depot.

In related news, a new AA survey shows that most British drivers are not clued-up about the most basic aspects of car maintenance.

It shows that only a third of motorists know how to properly maintain their car by carrying out basic maintenance checks – such as oil and water levels, tyre pressures and battery condition.

While AA patrols fix around eight out of 10 vehicles, many of the 3.9 million breakdowns they attend each year are caused by motorists failing to make simple mechanical checks which could keep their cars on the road.

One in 10 motorists are putting their car engine at risk by never checking the oil level. The AA recommends that this should be done once a week, but two thirds of motorists still fail to carry out this basic weekly check.

When it comes to checking tyre tread depths, only 9 per cent of those asked knew that the legal minimum depth was 1.6mm. Some 52 per cent had no idea at all.

Less than a third (32 per cent) of those questioned knew that their car battery would, on average, only last for three to four years.

Less than a quarter (23 per cent) of motorists check their engine’s coolant levels as recommended. Another 24 per cent never check while another 6 per cent only do so when they think there is a problem.

Just over a third (34 per cent) find the time to check their car’s washing water levels. Five per cent of men never check compared to 13 per cent of women.

Tim Shallcross, AA Technical Development Manager, says: “Modern cars are increasingly reliable, but that doesn’t negate the need for basic checks and all manufacturers detail these in the owner’s handbook.”

The top 10 most common breakdowns, of the 3.9 million attended by patrols last year are:

Battery (flat or faulty)15.1%
Spark plugs2.7%
Starter motor2.7%
Cylinder head gasket2%
Timing belt1.7%