AAA Survey Finds Young Auto Techs Know the Value of Maintaining the Cars They Drive -- and Think Others Should, Too

Dearborn, Mich. – 6/8/2006

Teaching teen drivers the consequences of driving a poorly maintained vehicle is effective in motivating them to learn the technical aspects of keeping their cars and trucks in peak condition, according to results released today of a survey of young people who participated in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition between 2003 and 2005.

The respondents, who as junior and senior high school students competed in the nationwide program, also suggested requiring automotive technology and safety classes for all students and possibly adults as well, tied either into driver education courses or licensing requirements.

Making young drivers responsible for repair costs and showing how much money they can save by performing their own regular maintenance will encourage teens to take better care of their cars, survey participants suggested.

“Ideally, all teen drivers should understand how to maximize their vehicle’s overall performance and reliability and get into the habit of routinely inspecting key components of their car before taking to the road,” said Allan Stanley, Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills program manager.

The young people surveyed ranked the five most important items to check before driving, naming engine oil first, followed by belts and hoses, then tires, exterior lighting, and, finally, windshield wipers.

The annual Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition aims to teach young people how to maintain their vehicles for peak performance, reliability and safety and to reinforce the message that learning how to drive is just as important.

The competition provides junior and senior high school students with the opportunity to apply the skills learned in automotive technician programs to hands-on competitions in every state. Teams race against a clock to repair identically bugged vehicles, with the top team in each state advancing to the national finals and repeating the process there.

“The students taking part in this competition and in automotive education across the country are great role models for demonstrating to their peers the importance of keeping vehicles in top working condition,” said .

One-third of the more than 90 respondents listed parents as most influential in persuading young people to maintain their vehicles, followed closely by auto tech instructors. Friends play a lesser but still important role, the survey found.

The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition features two-person teams from all 50 states competing to diagnose, fix and drive their assigned vehicles across the finish line. The teams that that are the quickest and most accurate earn trophies and scholarships for advanced automotive technology training. This year total contest prizes are valued at $6 million. The national hands-on competition will be held June 27 at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, MI.

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