Posts Tagged ‘Auto Repair’

Mariam Ali Contact TileAAA advises drivers to save $50 per month for car care fund

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 4, 2017) – According to a new AAA survey, 64 million American drivers would not be able to pay for an unexpected vehicle repair without going into debt, indicating that some drivers may underestimate the full cost of owning and operating a vehicle. Because some car repairs are unavoidable, and the average repair bill is between $500 and $600, AAA urges drivers to save at least $50 a month for unforeseen expenses, and identify a trusted repair facility before trouble strikes.

Additional Resources

“The average cost of owning and operating a vehicle is more than $8,500 a year, and AAA has found that millions of Americans are failing to set aside a car care fund to pay for the upkeep of their cars,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “To avoid a surprise down the road, drivers should budget for monthly payments, insurance premiums, fuel costs and the inevitable expenses of routine maintenance and repair.”

Although an average repair bill can set a driver back up to $600, the cost can soar higher when a vehicle has been poorly maintained. A previous AAA survey found that one-third of U.S. drivers skip or delay recommended service or repairs, which increases the likelihood of unexpected mechanical failures and leaves a vehicle more vulnerable to roadside breakdown. In 2016 alone, AAA responded to nearly 32 million stranded motorists.

“Anticipating your vehicle’s needs before problems strike is important,” continued Nielsen. “While it may seem that skipping maintenance and repairs can save money in the short term, staying on top of car care can save drivers hundreds of dollars in the long run.”  

Before a breakdown happens, AAA recommends that vehicle owners:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule to avoid roadside trouble.
  • Identify a repair shop you trust. A recent AAA survey found that one-third of U.S. drivers have yet to find a trusted repair facility. Visit com/autorepair to locate a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility near you.

If faced with an unexpected repair, AAA suggests that drivers:

  • Get a written estimate for the repair and clarify with the shop the work that needs to be done on the vehicle Consider getting a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Negotiate the repair bill with the mechanic. Ask if the shop offers any discounts or payment plans that can reduce immediate out-of-pocket costs.

The AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) network consists of nearly 7,000 facilities that have met AAA’s high standards, including, technician certifications, ongoing training, financial stability, facility cleanliness, insurance requirements, rigorous inspections and customer satisfaction. AAA members are eligible for special benefits at AAR facilities, including priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts, free maintenance inspections, dispute resolution assistance and more. To locate an AAR shop in your area, visit AAA.com/autorepair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Ellen Edmonds Contact TileSeventy percent of U.S. drivers at risk for costly, dangerous rust damage

ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 21, 2017) – As the end of winter approaches, millions of Americans will face pricey vehicle repairs from rust damage caused by chemicals used to de-ice roadways. According to a new AAA survey, U.S. drivers paid an estimated $15.4 billion in rust repairs caused by de-icing methods over the last five years, or approximately $3 billion annually. AAA warns drivers, especially the 70 percent (150 million) who live in areas affected by snow and ice, to take action to prevent dangerous rust-related vehicle damage to brake lines, fuel tanks, exhaust systems and other critical vehicle components.

Additional Resources

“While the application of de-icing salts and solutions is critical to keeping our nation’s roadways safe every winter, it’s important that drivers pay attention to warning signs that their vehicle may be suffering from rust-related damage,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “This can be much more than a cosmetic issue, it can also create serious safety issues for drivers by impacting brake lines, exhaust systems, fuel tanks and electrical connections.”

AAA strongly urges drivers who experience any of the following vehicle malfunctions to immediately move the vehicle off the road to a safe location and have it towed to a trusted repair facility.

  • In-dash warning lights for brakes and other critical systems.
  • A “spongey” or soft feeling when applying pressure to the brake pedal.
  • An unusually loud exhaust sound or the smell of fumes in or around the vehicle.
  • The prominent smell of gasoline or diesel fuel when the vehicle is parked or running.

In recent years, many state and local transportation departments have shifted from using rock salt to liquid de-icers to combat ice and snow on the roadways. These newer alternatives are more effective than traditional salt because they can be applied before a snowstorm, have a lower freezing point and melt ice and snow faster. However, these same characteristics can be even more damaging to vehicles since the chemicals remain in liquid form longer and are more likely to coat components and seep into cracks and crevices where corrosion can accelerate.

“In the last five years, 22 million U.S. drivers have experienced rust damage to their cars due to salt and liquid de-icers,” continued Nielsen. “In addition to the safety risk, repairs to fix these problems are often costly, averaging almost $500 per occurrence.”

While some rust damage is unavoidable, AAA recommends drivers take the following preventative steps in order to reduce the possibility of vehicle damage:

  • When possible, limit driving immediately before, during and after winter storms when salt and de-icing solutions are being applied and are at their highest concentrations.
  • Frequently wash your vehicle, paying particular attention to the undercarriage. This will loosen, dissolve and neutralize road salts. Many drive-through car washes offer an undercarriage rinse as an option.
  • Always use a high-quality car wash solution, not a household dish detergent that will strip the wax from your vehicle.
  • Repair any body damage and touch up paint scratches and chips that expose bare metal which could lead to rust.
  • Before the start of winter, thoroughly wash and clean your vehicle prior to the start of winter and apply a coat of wax to protect the finish.
  • Give the entire vehicle and undercarriage one last cleaning in the spring. Any deposits left over from winter can continue to cause corrosion year-round if not properly removed.

Pothole damage is another concern for drivers, as snow and ice melt and roadways begin to crumble. A new AAA survey found that nearly 30 million U.S. drivers experienced pothole damage significant enough to require repair in 2016, with repair bills ranging from under $250 to more than $1000. To address this issue, AAA believes that more funding is needed to keep pace with critical repairs and ongoing maintenance of the nation’s roadways.

When pothole or rust damage occurs, it is imperative to choose a reputable repair facility. The AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) network includes nearly 7,000 facilities which have met AAA’s high standards, including, certifications, technical training, cleanliness, insurance requirements, rigorous inspections and customer satisfaction. AAA members are eligible for special benefits such as priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts, free inspections, dispute resolution assistance and more. To locate an AAR shop in your area, visit AAA.com/AutoRepair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Most U.S. Drivers Leery of Auto Repair Shops

December 1st, 2016 by Jessica Souto

Mariam Ali Contact TileAAA advises that finding a trusted mechanic is more important than ever

ORLANDO, Fla. (December 1, 2016) – According to a new AAA survey, two out of three U.S. drivers do not trust auto repair shops in general – citing overcharges, recommendations for unnecessary services and poor past experiences for their lack of confidence. However, the survey also reveals that the majority (64 percent) of U.S. drivers have singled out an auto repair shop that they do trust, suggesting that consumers have prioritized finding a reliable mechanic in an industry with imperfect reputation. AAA urges all drivers to identify a reputable repair facility well before one is needed.

Additional Resources

“To minimize the stress associated with vehicle repair and maintenance, it is critical that drivers find an honest repair shop that they can trust with their vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “AAA found that one-third of U.S. drivers – 75 million motorists in total – have yet to find a trusted repair facility, leaving them vulnerable when trouble strikes.”

With today’s cars collecting a variety of data about the health of the vehicle, drivers need a trusted repair facility more than ever. “Connected cars” with built-in diagnostic capabilities can alert drivers to vehicle trouble and help repair shops quickly and accurately address issues. Unsurprisingly, given concerns around data security, AAA found that the majority of U.S. drivers want the ability to direct their vehicle’s data to the repair shop of their choice – the trusted facility with whom they have built a relationship.

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • The top reasons that U.S. drivers do not trust repair shops are:
    • Recommending unnecessary services (76 percent)
    • Overcharging for services (73 percent)
    • Negative past experiences (63 percent)
    • Concerns that the work will not be done correctly (49 percent)
  • Older drivers are more likely to trust auto repair shops than younger drivers.
    • Baby Boomers are twice as likely than younger generations to fully trust auto repair facilities in general, with one-in-five reporting they “totally trust” the industry.
    • Baby Boomers (76 percent) are also more likely to have a chosen auto repair shop that they trust compared to Millennials (55 percent) and Gen-Xers (56 percent).

“As a service to our members and the general public, the AAA Approved Auto Repair program is designed to help drivers identify trustworthy repair shops,” Nielsen continued. “Facilities meet AAA standards by undergoing a rigorous investigation conducted by Automotive Service Excellence certified inspectors, including quarterly inspections and annual re-certifications that ensures high professional standards for technical training, equipment, cleanliness and customer service. Plus, if something does go wrong, AAA steps in to arbitrate any issues on behalf of its members.”

To find a trustworthy auto repair shop, AAA suggests that drivers:

  • Look for a repair shop before issues occur. Ask family and friends for recommendations and visit AAA.com/autorepair to locate an AAA Approved Auto Repair facility near you.
  • Research potential repair shops and find out how long they have been in business. This can be a good indicator of shop quality. Also, look into how they deal with consumer complaints. The Better Business Bureau, State Department of Consumer Affairs or attorney general’s office can provide those complaints.
  • Visit the auto repair shop for a minor job such as an oil change or tire rotation. While waiting, talk with shop employees and inspect the shop’s appearance, amenities, technician credentials, and parts and labor warranty. If you find the service to be good, stick with them. Build a relationship with the technician so they can get to know you and your vehicle.

AAA’s Approved Auto Repair (AAR) program was created more than 35 years ago and includes nearly 7,000 facilities across North America. Once a shop meets AAA’s high standards, including certifications, technical training, cleanliness, insurance requirements, it becomes part of the AAR program where it’s re-inspected annually and monitored for customer satisfaction. AAA members receive several unique benefits by selecting an AAR facility, including priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts on repairs, free inspections, AAA assistance with dispute resolutions and more.

For additional information about the survey, including a fact sheet and infographics, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Vehicle computer diagnosis combines test results with expert knowledge to help “cure” what ails your automobile

ORLANDO, FL, (September 17, 2012) – When your auto repair shop recommends a ‘computer diagnosis’ it sounds serious, and everyone knows that serious vehicle problems can lead to serious repair bills. However, AAA experts advise consumers not to be overly concerned because computer diagnosis is a common practice for identifying problems on today’s microprocessor-controlled cars.

Additional Resources

“If your vehicle needs a computer diagnosis, don’t be alarmed. This is often the most efficient and cost effective way for an automotive technician to diagnose a problem,” says John Nielsen, director, AAA Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Just be sure to have the repair facility explain what will be done before you authorize the work because ‘computer diagnosis’ is a generic term that can cover a wide range of operations.”

To help motorists better understand computer diagnosis, AAA Automotive Engineering offers the following information. Based at the association’s national office in Heathrow, FL, the automotive engineering team’s goal is to provide motorists with unbiased information and advice on automotive technology.

  • Modern vehicle electronic control systems “know” and monitor the operating parameters of every component. When the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) that manages the system sees a signal that is outside normal limits, or fails to see an expected change in a signal, it stores a Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC).
  • To access DTCs, technicians connect a “scan” tool to a Diagnostic Link Connector that is commonly located under the driver’s side of the instrument panel. The scan tool displays any stored codes, but that is only the beginning of a full computer diagnosis.
  • DTCs don’t tell a technician if a particular part is bad, they only indicate that the PCM has seen something it didn’t expect in a certain circuit. The problem might be the part, but it could just as easily be an issue with the circuit’s electrical wiring.
  • Sometimes, DTCs are set when there is nothing wrong with the electronic control system. This happens when a mechanical problem, like an engine vacuum leak, creates operating conditions that cause system components to generate signals outside their normal range.
  • To pinpoint a problem, the technician starts with the DTC, then performs additional tests. These can range from mechanical checks, like engine compression, to in-depth electronic diagnosis. One common procedure uses special test equipment to access the electronic control system data network and monitor real-time signals from the system components.

The ability of technicians to determine what additional tests are needed, and to accurately interpret both test results and computer network data, comes from extensive training and experience. Today’s technicians use vehicle computer diagnosis in much the same way surgeons employ medical testing. In both cases, combining test results with expert knowledge and skilled hands can lead to an accurate diagnosis and an ultimate cure.

If you don’t have a good relationship with an auto repair shop you can trust to properly diagnose your car’s problems, consider using a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility. AAA has inspected and certified nearly 8,000 repair shops across North America as a free public service for motorists. AAA Approved Auto Repair shops can be identified by the AAA Approved Auto Repair sign, or by searching online at AAA.com/Repair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ORLANDO, Fla., August 11, 2011

Nation’s largest motor club provides tips to keep motorists safe and help get them back on the go quickly after a breakdown

Christie HydeMany Americans rely on their cars for nearly every part of their life—to commute to work, to attend school, to run errands, to socialize with friends or to get away on vacation. AAA recognizes one of the most stressful things that can happen to a driver is to suddenly have their car not work.

“Whether sitting in your driveway or stranded on the roadside, having a car that won’t start is a nerve-racking experience. There are a few things to remember that can help keep you safe and possibly get you back on the go more quickly,” said John Nielsen, AAA National director of Auto Repair, Buying Services and Consumer Information.

What If It Suddenly Won’t Start?

Additional Resources

If a car previously was running well and suddenly will not start, it could be an issue with the vehicle’s battery. While in many cases it may have become discharged, in others it’s possible the cause of the problem is a poor connection that can easily be fixed.

Open the hood and inspect the battery. Make sure it is securely mounted in place, then check the cable clamps connected to the battery. If they are loose or covered in corrosive build up, that could be the source of the problem. Clean any corrosion from the battery terminals and cable clamps, and ensure the clamps are tight enough that they will not move.

If a poor battery connection does not seem to be the problem, check a few other basic items such as ensuring the vehicle (if an automatic transmission) is fully in park. Also, make sure there is fuel in the car.

If those items do not seem to be the source of the problem, then it’s time to call a road service provider, such as AAA, that has knowledgeable technicians to assist. As the nation’s largest motor club, AAA trains its roadside technicians to diagnose common vehicle problems onsite, as a result, they are able to get three out of five cars on the go, eliminating the need for a tow.

What If It Strands Me On A Roadway?

“If a vehicle begins to experience problems while being driven or suddenly can no longer be driven, safety should become the driver’s first priority,” said Nielsen.

If the car is clearly experiencing a problem but can still be driven a short distance, drive to a safe location such as a parking lot. If the vehicle stops running but still has coasting momentum, guide it to the far right shoulder, as far off the road as possible while remaining on level ground. Turn on the emergency flashers to alert other motorists.

If the car cannot get completely off the roadway, switch on the safety/emergency flashers and consider leaving the vehicle and moving to a safer location. Occupants should not remain in a vehicle if there is a possibility it may be struck from behind by other traffic. For the same reason, it is generally not a good idea to attempt to push the car off the road.

Drivers and passengers should exit a broken down car on the side away from traffic if at all possible. Use extreme caution and watch for oncoming vehicles, especially at night or in bad weather when visibility is limited. While waiting for help, never stand directly behind or in front of the disabled vehicle.

In addition to turning on a vehicle’s emergency flashers, drivers can signal other motorists that they have a problem by raising the car hood, tying a brightly colored handkerchief or scarf to the antenna or door handle, or setting out flares, warning triangles or emergency beacons. These signals can help other drivers recognize there is a problem and hopefully prompt them to slow down, allow more room and proceed with caution while passing.

Communicating Your Situation

Once the driver and passengers are in a safe location, request assistance from a road service provider such as AAA. Make note of surroundings, landmarks, buildings or road signs to help relay your location. AAA members may have their phone’s GPS location sent directly to AAA Roadside Assistance by using one of AAA’s mobile products such as the AAA Roadside, AAA Discounts or AAA TripTik Mobile apps for Android and iPhone users. AAA members with any GPS-enabled Sprint mobile phone can have their location transmitted via AAA FindMe—even if they do not have a smartphone. AAA members should sign up for the free AAA FindMe service in advance by registering their membership number and Sprint mobile phone number at AAA.com/AAAFindMe.

Safety experts agree that under most circumstances, provided the car is away from the flow of traffic, it is safest for the driver and passengers to remain in the vehicle while waiting for law enforcement or roadside assistance to arrive. If drivers feel they are in an unsafe situation, they should communicate that fact to the roadside assistance operator when calling for assistance.

To help drivers prepare for these unfortunate situations, AAA offers an in-depth guide called “What to Do When Your Vehicle Breaks Down: The AAA Guide to Personal Safety.” The guide can be downloaded for free at AAA.com/Public Affairs.

Where Do I Send My Car?

Once assistance arrives, if the technician is unable to remedy the problem at the roadside, the car will have to be towed somewhere for repair. Unless the driver is a savvy automotive do-it-yourselfer who wants the car towed home, the vehicle will most likely be towed directly to a repair facility.

When traveling away from home, or if the driver does not have a regular repair facility, AAA can provide the names and locations of a nearby AAA Approved Auto repair facilities. These shops have met stringent professional standards for training, equipment, cleanliness and customer service. AAA Approved Auto Repair is a free public service that can help any motorist identify trustworthy, quality auto repair facilities. Motorists can search for nearby facilities online at AAA.com/Repair. Approved Auto Repair facilities also can be quickly found with the AAA Roadside and AAA TripTik Mobile apps for Android and iPhone, or on other web-enabled mobile phones using AAA Mobile Web at AAA.mobi.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.


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ORLANDO, Fla., June 17, 2011

America’s largest motor club demonstrates leadership in electric vehicle industry with announcement of nation’s first ready-for-deployment mobile EV charging solution

Christie HydeAAA, the nation’s largest motor club, presented to the membership of the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) today that it has a fully functioning electric vehicle mobile charging unit ready to deploy into its roadside assistance operations.

The motor club announced it will unveil the latest addition to its fleet of roadside assistance vehicles at the Plug-In 2011 Conference & Exposition in Raleigh, N.C., July 18-21, and begin initial deployment in select cities across the country later this summer.

“For more than 100 years, AAA has been a leader in addressing the needs of the motoring public. Dating back to the early days of the automobile, AAA has kept the pulse of the ever-changing automotive industry, and that continues today as we ready AAA’s emergency road service operations to address the emerging electric vehicle market,” said John Nielsen, AAA National Director of Auto Repair, Buying Services and Consumer Information.

“AAA is proud to announce today to the membership of the EDTA that it is the first in the nation to have a full production level two and level three mobile charging unit that will be unveiled next month and deployed into the field to begin servicing AAA members later this summer,” continued Nielsen.

AAA will announce details of its electric vehicle mobile charging unit as well as deployment plans next month at the official unveiling of the vehicles at the Plug-In 2011 Conference & Exposition in Raleigh, N.C., July 18-21.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ORLANDO, Fla., June 16, 2011

As the summer travel season ramps up, AAA releases top cars for all types of drivers who love taking to the open road

Christie HydeAmerican drivers love to spend their vacations hitting the open road. AAA anticipated nine out of 10 travelers over the recent Memorial Day holiday weekend took a road trip as opposed to traveling by plane, train or other mode of transportation. For those in the market for a new vehicle that they hope to log plenty of miles in while traveling, AAA has released its top vehicle picks for road trips.

“Since the invention of the automobile, Americans have enjoyed taking road trips. From wood-paneled station wagons to oversized conversion vans, most Americans have grown up taking road trips with their family and friends,” said John Nielsen, AAA National Director of Auto Repair, Buying Services and Consumer Information.

“Today’s American road trips come in many different forms: family vacations, mancations, girlfriend getaways, romantic excursions and more. And the ideal vehicle for a road trip can come in as many different forms depending on where you want the road to take you and who will be joining you for the ride,” said Nielsen.

To assist travelers seeking the ideal vehicle for their road trip, AAA Auto Buying experts developed a list of its top picks for road trips taking into consideration a wide variety of factors such as interior comfort, cargo size, passenger room and comfort, fuel economy, safety, vehicle performance and handling as well as other factors.

AAA’s top vehicle picks for road trips highlights vehicles in six categories to offer options for a variety of consumers at every price point. The 2011 top vehicle picks for road trips include:

Small Cars

Chevrolet Cruze Eco – From the Cavalier to the Cobalt to the Cruze, each generation of compact Chevrolet vehicles has been an improvement from the previous, and the Cruze is no exception. AAA Auto Buying experts tested the “Eco” version with a six-speed manual transmission, which is the non-hybrid gasoline fuel economy leader in its size category. It also received a five-star overall rating in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) more stringent new crash test program. AAA found the Cruze Eco to be a good value with impressive fuel economy, making it a smart pick for road trip lovers on a budget. For those looking to take more than two on their road trip, the Cruze lacks rear cup holders and a center armrest, and the rear seat may be cramped for tall passengers. The TrueCar national average selling price of the Chevrolet Cruze “Eco” is $18,837, 1.8 percent (or $338) less than the MSRP.

Other Recent AAA Auto Buying Top Picks List:

Ford Focus – A definite improvement over the previous version, the new 2012 Ford Focus drives very nicely with above average ride and handling. Fuel economy and engine performance also are very good and highway cruising is impressively quiet for the small car field, making it a top pick for road trips. As with other cars in the category, its ideal for two travelers as the backseat can be a bit cramped. The TrueCar national average selling price of the 2012 Ford Focus is $16,896, 2.3 percent (or $399) less than the MSRP.

Kia Soul – For those looking to express themselves a bit more while on the road, AAA Auto Buying experts like the funky looks of the Kia Soul and its practicality, as well. Reviewers found little to fault with the Soul, which offers a 10-year/100,000 mile warranty, 30-mpg fuel economy and is a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Soul also received a five-star crash test rating from NHTSA. The TrueCar national average selling price of the Kia Soul is $16,759, 2.5 percent (or $431) less than the MSRP.

Medium Cars

Ford Fusion – The Ford Fusion is a well-rounded vehicle. Its engine performance, ride and handling are all very good, and the hybrid version can produce exceptional fuel economy. As an added bonus, all-wheel drive is an option, which should make the car more appealing for those who enjoy winter-time road trips in certain parts of the country. The downside found by AAA Auto Buying experts is the four-cylinder engine could be more refined. The TrueCar national average selling price of the Ford Fusion is $18,821, currently selling for 8.8 percent (or $1,824) less than the MSRP.

Toyota Prius – The Toyota Prius is a road trip top pick because it’s roomy, comfortable and economical. The hatchback design makes for exceptional flexibility, as well. The hybrid drivetrain sips fuel, and with careful driving, it can push fuel economy well past 50 mpg. However, for those who love engaging and sporty vehicles for their road trips, the Prius may not be the right choice. It’s a secure and predictable ride, but not engaging to drive. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Toyota Prius is $24,876, which is 2.5 percent (or $596) above the MSRP. Increase demand due to higher gas prices and lowered supply of the Prius make it the only vehicle on AAA’s list currently to be selling for more than its MSRP, according to TrueCar pricing information.

Hyundai Sonata – AAA Auto Buying experts found the Hyundai Sonata to be an excellent performer from any perspective. The ride is comfortable and controlled, the handling is highly predictable and the four-cylinder engine delivers both good performance and good fuel economy. For those planning a road trip with taller passengers in the back seat, the swooping roof cuts into the rear seat head room as well as rear visibility. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Hyundai Sonata is $20,572, 2.7 percent (or $573) less than the MSRP.

Large Cars

Toyota Camry/Avalon – These cars share a platform and a V-6 engine. The Camry also offers four-cylinder power, which should be sufficient for most drivers. The cabins are roomy with the Avalon offering exceptional rear seat comfort, good for those taking multiple passengers on a road trip. Fuel economy with the V-6 when on the open road is surprisingly good. While both have solid handling, neither car is engaging to drive for travelers seeking a little extra from their driving experience. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Toyota Camry is $20,668, 6.1 percent (or $1,337) less than the MSRP.

Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger – Much improved for 2011, the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger (built on the same platform) offer a surprising amount of room, a comfortable and well-controlled ride and good handling. Interior treatments are noticeably upgraded, as well. The new 3.6-liter V-6 engine provides adequate power and reasonable fuel economy. However, AAA Auto Buying experts report rear visibility is still an issue though forward visibility for overhead traffic lights has been improved from previous model years. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Dodge Charger is $24,803, 5.4 percent (or $1,417) less than the MSRP.

Infiniti G37 – AAA Auto Buying Experts agree the Infinity G37 is one of the most engaging driving experiences with sharp handling and a powerful 328-horsepower V-6. It also comes loaded with standard features and excellent safety ratings. For road trippers, the interior is a bit snug and the ride might be too firm for some depending on their personal preference and road surface conditions. The TrueCar national average selling price of the Infiniti G37 is $33,894, which is 7.6 percent (or $2,801) less than the MSRP.

Minivans

Honda Odyssey The Honda Odyssey is big, but the driver does not have to put up with an unwieldy vehicle as its handling is surprisingly good. As for space, this minivan can carry a large family with ease. Optional split-screen entertainment also can keep rear seat passengers entertained during long trips. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Honda Odyssey is $30,777, three percent (or $953) less than MSRP.

Toyota Sienna – Big, comfortable and inviting, the Toyota Sienna has many features to put it on the top picks for road trips list. The ride is comfortable and quiet while the V-6 engine performs impressively. AAA Auto Buying experts reported that the Sienna’s handling is not the best in the class and the interior is not as polished as some road trip fans may prefer. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Toyota Sienna is $24,209, 6.4 percent (or $1,661) less than MSRP.

Chrysler Town & Country Much improved with a mid-cycle freshening, the Chrysler Town & Country comes with a standard array of useful safety features including a backup camera and cross traffic and blind spot alerts. The Stow ‘n’ Go seats are unparalleled for convenience and the ride and handling are quite good in the new model. The Town & Country can be a great pick for those traveling with children, however the second row seats still are not very adult friendly. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Town & Country is $28,696, 7.7 percent (or $2,399) less than the MSRP.

SUVs

Dodge Durango – The new platform for the Dodge Durango, which it shares with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, is very good. Its ride and handling are well above average, and the new 3.6-liter V-6 is more than capable of delivering power when needed. Rear seat room is up to the challenge of handling six-foot passengers. The main drawback to the Durango is its below-class-average fuel economy. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Dodge Durango is $27,347, nine percent (or $2,698) less than MSRP.

Subaru Forester Easy to drive, comfortable and budget friendly (at least in its basic, though still well-equipped trim levels) the Forester is ideal for longer trips. Its ride and handling are good, and the base engine performance is more than sufficient for family use. The only downside is its fuel economy is average for the vehicle category. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Subaru Forester is $21,513, 5.3 percent (or $1,207) less than MSRP.

Toyota RAV4 – Good ride, good handling and good room make the Toyota RAV4 an excellent extended drive vehicle. The V-6 is much more powerful than the four-cylinder motor, yet fuel economy seems not to suffer much with the upgrade. One downside noted by AAA Auto Buying experts is the location of the rear door hinge at the side, rather than the top, which can complicate access to the cargo area. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Toyota RAV4 is $22,150, 4.9 percent (or $1,135) less than MSRP.

“Fun” Cars

Porsche Boxster/Cayman There are few cars that offer a better blend of handling and engine performance. The Porsche Boxster and Cayman are not the fastest, but they are quick enough to be thoroughly entertaining on a road trip—especially those that might include some winding roads. As with most the ‘fun’ picks, there is only room for two, and the Porsches’ split trunks limit packing options. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Porsche Boxster is $47,022, 4.1 percent (or $2,028) less than MSRP.

Chevrolet Corvette – Great handling and power are the highlights of the Chevrolet Corvette that can make it a fun car for a road trip. As with other sports cars, travelers will need to pack light and leave the kids at home for road trips in this American classic. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Chevrolet Corvette is $45,156, 9.7 percent (or $4,839) less than the MSRP.

Volkswagen GTI – The Volkswagen GTI may be the best overall compromise in the “fun-to-drive” category. It is roomy enough to be practical, while the ride is surprisingly supple considering its handling. The interior is nicely designed and put together. While a good compromise of room and fun, the back seat is still a tight fit for adults if taking a longer road trip. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Volkswagen GTI is $26,187, 5.3 percent (or $1,478) less than MSRP.

AAA’s top picks are selected by its AAA Auto Buying experts who test drive and evaluate hundreds of vehicles each year. AAA provides free vehicle reviews, localized pricing information and more for consumers online at AAA.com/AutoMaker. Additional information on AAA Auto Buying is available at AAA.com/AutoBuying.

TrueCar is the AAA preferred supplier for new car pricing data for the motor club. TrueCar is a trusted source for car buyers and car dealers, providing what other people actually paid for a vehicle within the last 30 days, locally, regionally and nationally using multiple, and even duplicate sources to gather and authenticate their data. Those in the market for a new vehicle can configure the vehicle they want and get the TrueCar average selling price at AAA.com/AutoMaker. Vehicle pricing will vary based on trim packages, and prices included with the top picks are based upon specific trim.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ORLANDO, Fla., April 19, 2011

Nation’s largest motor club offers easy ways motorists can be more ‘green’ with their driving habits…and save a little money in the process

Christie HydeWith Earth Day 2011 celebrations this week, AAA offers drivers some tips on how they can drive ‘greener’ and save some money in the process.

“Many Americans are trying to make more environmentally conscious decisions, and that is especially top of mind this week as we near Earth Day 2011,” said John Nielsen, AAA National Director of Auto Repair, Buying Services and Consumer Information. “There are a lot of things we can do to lessen our environmental impact behind the wheel while saving money as well.”

1. Imagine Eggs Under the Pedals

Additional Resources

The easiest and most effective way to drive ‘greener’ is to simply change one’s driving style. Instead of making quick starts and sudden stops, go easy on the gas and brake pedals. If there is a red light ahead, ease off the gas and coast up to it rather than waiting until the last second to brake. Once the light turns green, accelerate gently rather than making a ‘jack rabbit’ start.

“Imagine there are eggs beneath your gas and brake pedals. You want to apply pressure gently to the pedals in order to avoid breaking the egg,” explained Nielsen. “Changing your driving style can have a tremendous impact on the amount of gas your car uses, making it not just a ‘greener’ choice, but one that can really save you money with today’s high fuel prices.”

The U.S. Department of Energy reports aggressive driving can reduce a car’s fuel economy up to 33 percent.

2. Just Slow Down

Getting to a destination faster does not necessarily mean getting there ‘greener.’ The fuel efficiency of most vehicles decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph.

“When AAA says slow down, that doesn’t mean becoming a moving roadblock on the highway. Safety should remain paramount. However, simply driving the speed limit or a few miles per hour less can reduce fuel consumption up to 23 percent,” noted Nielsen.

Each 5 mph driven over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

3. Keep Your Car In Shape

A car that’s not properly maintained can produce more exhaust emissions and consume more fuel than necessary. “Dust off the owner’s manual and locate the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule inside. Making sure all recommended maintenance is up to date will help your car run with optimum efficiency,” said Nielsen.

AAA recommends having any vehicle problems, including illuminated warning lights, addressed by a qualified, trained technician. Minor adjustments and repairs can effect emissions and fuel economy by up to four percent, while more serious problems, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can reduce gas mileage as much as 40 percent.

To help motorists find reliable, high-quality vehicle service, AAA has inspected and approved nearly 8,000 auto repair shops across the country. To locate a nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair facility, visit AAA.com/Repair.

4. Choose a ‘Greener’ Car

When shopping for a new car, consider the wide variety of ‘green’ vehicle options now available from automakers. AAA recently released its 2011 list of top picks for ‘green’ vehicles available to consumers.

“There are a number of ‘green’ car options on the market today. Assess your personal transportation needs to determine which is best for you. It could be a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid or an electric vehicle. Or, it might turn out to be a new model with a high-tech internal combustion engine that gets great gas mileage,” said Nielsen.

AAA’s list of its top picks for ‘green’ vehicles is available at AAA.com/News.

Even those not in the market for a newer vehicle may have the option of choosing a ‘greener’ car. If a household has multiple vehicles, choose to drive the ‘greener’ model more frequently when running errands or making other trips.

5. Think and Plan Ahead

Think ahead before heading out to the store or another errand. Determine all the places you need to go that day and try to combine multiple trips into one. Several short trips starting with a cold engine each time can use twice as much gas as a single longer trip when the engine is warm. Also, plan the route in advance to drive the fewest miles, eliminate backtracking and avoid heavy traffic times and areas.

AAA can help drivers plan efficient routes for their errands and locate the best places to stop for gas along the way. Using the free AAA TripTik Mobile iPhone app, motorists get turn-by-turn navigation with audible directions. In addition, they can compare frequently updated fuel costs at gas stations near their location. AAA also provides free route planning, gas station and fuel price information online through the TripTik Travel Planner at AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ORLANDO, Fla., –  April 15, 2011

As fuel prices continue to climb, drivers pushing gas tanks to their limits could end up with costly repair bills in addition to putting themselves in potentially dangerous situations

Christie HydeWith gas prices nearing record levels, motorists who attempt to stretch a tank of gas too far could end up stranded at the roadside. AAA cautions drivers that allowing their car to run out of fuel can not only put them in a potentially dangerous situation, but also could result in costly repair bills.

“We realize some motorists are trying to be resourceful and delay fuel expenditures by driving their car until the gas tank is nearly empty, but this can sometimes do more harm than good,” said John Nielsen, AAA National Director of Auto Repair, Buying Services and Consumer Information.

Additional Resources

Potential Costly Repairs from Running on Empty

Running a vehicle extremely low on fuel may cause sediment in the bottom of the tank to clog the fuel pump pickup, the fuel filter or even the fuel injectors. In addition, when a minimum level of fuel is not maintained it could cause the electric fuel pump inside the tank to overheat. The cost to replace that one component alone can be $500 or more in parts and labor.

Dangers of Running Out of Gas

Running out of gas also can put the personal safety of a motorist and their passengers in jeopardy should the vehicle suddenly become immobilized on the roadway. “Power steering and brakes can be lost when the engine dies, and drivers can end up stranded in the middle of a busy highway without the ability to move their vehicle. Fortunately, out-of-gas situations are completely avoidable just by keeping an eye on the fuel gauge,” noted Nielsen.

Finding the Lowest Priced Gas before Hitting E

AAA recommends drivers always maintain at least a quarter tank of fuel. “We understand everyone today is looking to save money by finding the lowest priced gas before they fill up. AAA can help in that quest with several free tools drivers can use to plan their fill ups in advance so they both save money and avoid running out of gas,” explained Nielsen.

Both the TripTik Travel Planner on AAA.com and the free AAA TripTik Mobile iPhone app can help drivers plan efficient routes for errands and locate the best places to stop for gas along the way. And on the go, AAA TripTik Mobile provides motorists with turn-by-turn navigation and audible directions. Both tools allow drivers to compare frequently updated fuel costs at gas stations near their location.

Safe, Smart Ways to Save on Gas

Rather than stretching their fuel supply too far, AAA urges motorists to make a few simple changes in their driving habits that can greatly improve fuel economy.

“Instead of making quick starts and sudden stops, go easy on the gas and brake pedals. If there is a red light ahead, ease off the gas and coast up to it rather than waiting until the last second to brake. Once the light turns green, accelerate gently rather than making a ‘jack rabbit’ start,” said Nielsen.

The U.S. Department of Energy reports aggressive driving can reduce a car’s fuel economy up to 33 percent.

Speed also is a key factor in conserving fuel. The fuel efficiency of most vehicles decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. “Every additional 5 mph above 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas. Take it easy on the road and you’ll see a tremendous savings at the pump,” added Nielsen.

AAA offers more than 40 ways motorists can reduce the amount of fuel they consume in its “Gas Watchers Guide” available online at AAA.com/PublicAffairs.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ORLANDO, Fla., – April 13, 2011

From all electric to traditional internal combustion engines to lesser-known options, AAA Auto Buying experts provide insight for those looking to go ‘green’ with next vehicle purchase

Christie HydeIn honor of the upcoming Earth Day 2011, AAA announced its top picks for ‘green’ vehicles. As part of the list, the auto buying experts at the nation’s largest motor club explain the various ‘green’ technologies available to motorists and highlight some of the top vehicles in each category.

“There has been an influx of ‘green’ technologies by automakers into the market, which is great for consumers looking to make a more environmentally-conscious choice for their next vehicle purchase,” said John Nielsen, AAA National Director of Auto Repair, Buying and Consumer Information. “Increasing the efficiency of the cars we drive means that less fuel is burned for every mile driven. That’s great news for the environment and our pocketbooks.”

Some of the technologies AAA highlights as making these advances possible include:

Electric Power

The year 2011 ushers in the new generation of fully electric vehicles that do not use gasoline at all. The Nissan Leaf is the standout in this category. The car is comfortable and the driving experience is enjoyable. Depending on traffic, speed and temperature, owners can expect to travel 50 to 80 miles on a single charge. That’s well within the range of most daily commutes. Enhancing the Leaf’s appeal, charging stations are increasingly available in the cities where this car is sold.

Other AAA Top Pick Lists

With the average cost for a kilowatt hour of electrical energy at approximately 12 cents, a full charge in a Leaf would cost around $3.17. That works out to between 4 cents and 6.5 cents per mile for fuel. A comparable compact car would burn nearly 11 cents worth of gasoline for every mile traveled. Making the Leaf even more appealing and green, there will be no need for oil changes, ignition system maintenance, fuel system service or exhaust pipe and muffler replacements.

The Mini E Electric and the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive are also available (for lease only) in very limited numbers. Ford is planning on producing an electric version of its promising new Focus in the near future.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Similar economy can be realized in the plug-in hybrid powertrains. These use a rechargeable battery pack that allows the car to travel up to 35 miles before the onboard gasoline engine starts. In some cars, this engine will provide power to the drive wheels. In other models this engine powers a generator that delivers power to the motor driving the vehicle while also recharging the batteries. Unlike fully electric vehicles, a plug-in hybrid is limited only by the range of its gas tank.

The Chevrolet Volt, which is available in selected regions of the country but should be available throughout the nation by the end of 2011, uses this technology. Owners can plug in the car for recharging overnight then drive 25 to 40 miles before the gasoline engine starts to recharge the batteries. For most drivers, this range covers the daily commute, suggesting that the gasoline engine will rarely be needed. However, when a longer trip is planned, even one that goes from coast to coast, the Chevrolet Volt will be able to use its gasoline engine much as a normal car would.

While the Chevrolet Volt is the only commercially available plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) now offered from a major automaker, watch for the Toyota Prius PHEV to arrive later this year.

Gasoline-Electric Hybrids

These cars and trucks use a gasoline engine and an electric motor. A full or parallel hybrid can run on either the gasoline or electric motor, or use both for maximum performance. A mild hybrid uses the electric motor to aid the gasoline engine, which must always be running when the car is moving. Full hybrids can travel on electric power alone. The Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ hybrids can hit speeds of up to 45 miles per hour and travel for more than two miles using only battery power.

Hybrids never need to be plugged into a wall outlet or external charging station to keep the batteries at full power. The gasoline engine that powers the car also handles the task of recharging the batteries.

For fuel economy and minimal environmental impact from its operation, the Toyota Prius is the hybrid to beat. Its fuel economy is outstanding, with many owners reporting 50-plus miles to the gallon in daily driving. Making the vehicle even more appealing is a surprisingly roomy and flexible interior.

The Ford Fusion also delivers impressive fuel economy, and its transitions from electric to gasoline power are exceptionally smooth. The new Hyundai Sonata hybrid is also impressive, with its roomy and family-friendly interior and good road manners.

Compressed Natural Gas

Vehicles running on compressed natural gas (CNG) marry efficiency with markedly reduced tailpipe emissions. While many gasoline-powered vehicles have been converted to run on compressed natural gas, which is abundant and produced in the United States, the Honda Civic GX is the only sedan that comes from the factory with this ability. CNG vehicles use a standard piston engine.

Let Us Not Forget Gasoline and Diesel Vehicles

The regular internal combustion engine is also getting greener, too. An excellent example of an economical gasoline-powered vehicle is the new Chevy Cruz Eco. In AAA testing, this very attractive compact averaged 36 miles per gallon.

Diesels are not often thought of as being “green,” but the latest generation diesels produce fewer tailpipe emissions and significantly reduce carbon dioxide output. Today’s diesels are so clean they meet environmental standards in all states, including those that have adopted the more stringent California emissions rules. Among diesel powered cars, the Audi A3 is a standout.

A Hydrogen Future?

Hydrogen has been proclaimed as the fuel of the future. It can be stripped from natural gas or derived from water using electrolysis. It can then be used to produce electricity from a fuel cell. The byproducts from generating this electricity, which can be used to run an electric vehicle, are heat and water. Currently Honda has a fleet of FCX Clarity fuel cell sedans on lease to drivers in California.

There are hurdles to be overcome, including the cost of fuel cells and the development of a hydrogen infrastructure. There also are interesting alternative uses for these vehicles. One such application: A fuel cell powered car could easily provide electric power to an average home in the event of a power failure. What role hydrogen will play in the future is still to be decided. The performance of cars, such as the FCX Clarity, however, is not in doubt. It is a thoroughly credible vehicle.

AAA’s top picks for new vehicle technology are selected by AAA Auto Buying experts who review hundreds of vehicles each year. The list takes into consideration not only the first appearance of a new technology in vehicles, but also its availability to U.S. motorists in popular mainstream vehicles.

AAA’s top picks are selected by its auto buying experts who test drive and evaluate hundreds of vehicles each year. AAA provides free vehicle reviews, localized pricing information and more for consumers online at AAA.com/AutoMaker. Additional information on AAA Auto Buying is available at AAA.com/AutoBuying.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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