Dead battery? Flat tire? UAB can fix that — for free

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MARS streamMARS is a no-cost service available to all UAB employees, students and visitors, including those at UAB Hospital and on-campus clinics.Lock your keys in your car in Express Lot 4 or run out of gas driving down 10th Avenue South? Don’t worry about calling your roadside assistance company. UAB Transportation’s Motorist Assistance Roadside Service program, known as MARS, can help you resolve the issue fast and for free.

MARS is a no-cost service available to all UAB employees, students and visitors, including those at UAB Hospital and on-campus clinics, 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m. weekdays, except holidays. A quick phone call to 205-975-MARS (6277) can get you help for car trouble such as a dead battery, a flat tire, an empty gas tank or locked-in car keys.

In August and September, MARS technicians resolved more than 240 service calls. More than 60% of those were to charge a dead battery, 17% were to retrieve keys and another 17% were to put air in tires.

“We live in a busy world, and UAB is a busy campus, which means that occasionally, we all have mishaps like leaving our headlights on or forgetting to grab the keys before we lock our cars,” said Andre Davis, director of UAB Transportation. “Our MARS team is on-hand to help resolve the issue and get you on your way.”

4 safety tips

While MARS is at your service on UAB’s campus, it’s important to prepare for roadside problems that could happen elsewhere. Helpful tips include:

1. Check your spare tire.
If your new car purchase doesn’t come with a spare, purchase one and store it for emergencies. Many newer vehicles only come with tire-inflator kits. And if your car has a built-in spare tire, ensure it’s actually useable. Also, drivers should check their tire pressure monthly to ensure they are inflated to vehicle standards, which are outlined in the owner’s manual.

Call MARS at 205-975-6277 for help with dead batteries, flat tires, empty gas tanks or locked cars.

2. Check your battery as it ages.
Vehicle batteries only last around three to four years. AAA recommends drivers begin testing their vehicle battery once it reaches three years of age or older.

Be sure to look out for corrosion, which is indicated by a powdery light-blue substance on the battery’s terminal. Shops such as Advance Auto Parts and AutoZone offer free battery checks. It is recommended that you check your battery charge once a quarter or each time you change your oil.

3. Keep an eye on your keys.
Locking keys inside a car is one of the hardest issues to prevent, because it is accidental. For those who are especially forgetful, placing a spare key in a magnetic lockbox under the car or hiding one behind the license plate might be a good idea. Always ensure you have your keys in-hand when exiting the vehicle.

AAA recommends that drivers who use smart keys or keyless entry fobs avoid bringing them in contact with water and ensure they replace the battery whenever necessary.

4. Fill up your tank.
This one is easy: If your gas needle is inching toward empty, it means it’s time to fill up.