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Top 10 reasons drivers call for a tow truck

Here are the top 10 reasons drivers call for help while on the road, and tips to ensure you never find yourself in the same situation.

To help you prevent car trouble on the roads, we asked the Canadian Automobile Association (South Central Ontario branch) the top ten reasons why motorists called the CAA for help in 2011.

Following each item are tips we provided on avoiding this pitfall.

Silvana Aceto of CAA advises that the South Central Ontario region covers 1.8 million CAA members and the listings below cover calls for service from January through October 2011 inclusive.

More: 10 things to do after a car crash

More: These two driving tips could save your life

10. Collision. You can’t always avoid being the victim here but you can drive defensively, maintain a safe following distance and adjust your speed for conditions to give yourself the best possible chance of avoiding a crash.

9. Overheating. Change your coolant and fan belt(s) as per the automaker’s recommendation. See your mechanic immediately if “engine temp” is higher than normal, water pump is leaking, or belts are frayed.

8. Transmission failure. Change fluid on time and see a mechanic if there are any leaks, the fluid on dipstick smells burnt, or the tranny slips.

7. Out of gas/fuel delivery. Don’t let the fuel tank fall below one-quarter full, so you’re prepared in case of an unforeseen traffic jam. In winter, keep your tank at least half-full to deter water condensation.

6. Extrication. Good tires and brakes, and driving with common sense, can help keep you out of the ditch in the first place. Use winter tires in cold weather and increase following distance.

5. Flat tire — inflate tire. Tires normally lose pressure over time. Check pressure periodically and don’t forget the spare. A portable inflator that plugs into your vehicle power port is also handy.

4. Flat tire — install spare. Look at your tires periodically. A severely underinflated tire will eventually rupture in use. If you’ve neglected your spare for many years it may be too underinflated to use when needed.

3. Boost battery. Batteries produce much less power in severe cold, so an older battery that is fine in summer may be insufficient in a cold snap. If your battery is over five years old, have it checked and/or replaced. Few drivers do this. Instead, most will wait until it fails and leaves them stranded.

2. Locked out. Even with microchip-encoded metal keys, you may be able to have an inexpensive duplicate cut for opening the doors only. For high-tech, non-traditional keys your dealer is likely the only source of extras.

1. Breakdown. This covers non-specific mechanical failure, or vehicle failure for causes not listed above. The best you can do here is to maintain your vehicle according to the automaker’s recommendations and report anything unusual to your mechanic to have it checked out.

To check for fluid leaks, look where your auto is normally parked overnight. There are no normal leaks except for water dripping from the air conditioning on a hot day.

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