Posts Tagged ‘AAA Auto Repair’

Gas Prices Remain Stable Amid the Aftermath of Hurricane Florence

September 17th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

While Hurricane Florence battered the Carolinas over the weekend with life-threating storm-surge, rain and flooding, it has had little to no impact on gas prices, with the national average, holding steady at $2.85 on the week.

Gas prices have not seen much movement because unlike the Gulf Coast, which is home to dozens of refineries, the Carolinas house only pipelines and terminals. This means U.S. crude processing is not impacted and therefore neither are gas prices nationally.

Prior to Florence’s arrival, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported the Lower Atlantic Region’s total gasoline stocks — which includes West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida — measured at 27.9 million bbl. That is 10 percent higher than the 5-year average for this time of year.

“Gasoline stocks in the hurricane-impacted area are healthy, but delivery of gasoline will be an impediment to meeting demand in coastal areas this week,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “As power is restored, water recedes and roads open-up, we will have a better idea of how quickly fuel deliveries can be made to gas stations in the area. And while fuel availability at stations is a concern, AAA expects station outages to be short-lived.”

According to the Department of Energy, states are working closely with industry to expedite resupply shipments to impacted areas. AAA will continue to monitor hurricane recovery efforts and fuel resupply.

  • The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Alabama ($2.52), Mississippi ($2.54), Arkansas ($2.57), Louisiana ($2.58), Tennessee ($2.59), South Carolina ($2.60), Missouri ($2.60), Texas ($2.60), Virginia ($2.62) and Oklahoma ($2.64).
  • The nation’s top 10 largest monthly changes are: Colorado (+10 cents), Indiana (-6 cents), Delaware (+6 cents), Florida (-5 cents), South Carolina (+5 cents), Louisiana (-4 cents), Alaska (-4 cents), Utah (-4 cents), Iowa (+4 cents) and California (+4 cents).

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Hurricane Florence drove up gas prices in North Carolina (+3 cents) and Virginia (+1 cents) this past week. All other states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region saw prices decrease by a few cents or remained stable.

For motorists in coastal parts of North Carolina and Virginia, fuel availability post Hurricane Florence is a concern. As residents evacuated, panic-buying and tank-topping set-in, leaving some gas stations with low to no fuel at their pumps. The positive news is that Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regional gasoline inventories sit at a healthy 66.7 million bbl, which is not only the second highest inventory level recorded for the region this year, but a level not seen in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region since March 2016. This means that the region has adequate supply on-hand, and, weather-dependent, could be a resource to assist with resupply in the hurricane-impacted area, once water levels subside, roads are passable and power is restored.

South and Southeast

Hurricane Florence pushed up South Carolina’s ($2.60) state gas price average by just a penny on the week. Otherwise, pump prices for the majority of the South and Southeast are getting cheaper or seeing no change. Florida saw the largest drop of 3-cents during the last seven days while a one-cent drop was seen in Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana.

Pipelines and terminals are located in South Carolina, but were unaffected by the storm. Those facilities deliver approximately 3 million b/d of refined products to the eastern U.S. Once delivery trucks are able to take to the roads, the South and Southeast pipelines and terminals will help with resupply to the coastal areas.

As Gulf Coast refineries have not been impacted by the hurricane, processing continues as normal. South and Southeast gasoline inventories built by 600,000 on the week, according the EIA’s latest report. Total inventories measure at 81.2 million bbl, which is a healthy level for this time of year.

Great Lakes and Central

As area refineries undergo maintenance, state gas price averages in the Great Lakes and Central region are as much as five-cents more expensive since last Monday: Iowa (+5 cents), Nebraska (+4 cents), Ohio (+4 cents), and South Dakota (+3 cents). Only Missouri ($2.61) and Kansas ($2.66) saw a drop in pump prices on the week.

Today, there is a 32-cent difference in the most expensive state gas prices in the region carried in Michigan at $2.93 and least expensive at $2.61 in Missouri.

As pump prices see relatively small volatility, gasoline inventories continue to hover at the 53.1 million bbl mark. However, with unplanned and planned maintenance at some Great Lakes and Central refineries, inventories could decline this fall.

Rockies

On the week, Utah (-2 cents) and Idaho (-1 cents) motorists are paying less to fill-up. In fact, gas price averages across the Rockies states are mostly moving toward a return to pre-summer pump prices. Here is a snapshot of state gas prices since Memorial Day, at their highest summer price and today’s price:

  State gas price average on May 24, 2018 (start of Memorial Day Weekend) Highest gas price average this summer by state State gas price average on September 17, 2018
Colorado $2.89 $2.91 $2.91
Idaho $3.17 $3.26 $3.21
Montana $2.91 $2.95 $2.95
Utah $3.15 $3.21 $3.13
Wyoming $2.87 $3.00 $2.98

As demand begins to drop in the region, gasoline inventories took a small draw and continue to hover near the 6.5 million bbl mark. Gas prices will continue to trend cheaper as demand draws into the fall.

West Coast

The West Coast remains the nation’s most expensive region for retail gasoline, with six of the region’s states represented in the nation’s top 10 most expensive list. Hawaii ($3.77) is the nation’s most expensive market, followed by California ($3.64), Washington ($3.38), Alaska ($3.31), Oregon ($3.26), Nevada ($3.20) and Arizona ($2.87). Prices in the region remain relatively flat compared to last week, except for a one-cent jump in California and Arizona.

The EIA’s weekly petroleum status report showed West Coast motor gasoline stocks totaled 28.4 million bbl during the week that ended on September 7 – a gain of 100,000 bbl from the previous week. Stocks are 1.3 million bbl lower than where they were at this time last year, which could support a price spike if supplies remain low amid an increase in demand.

Oil market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased 40 cents to settle at $68.99. Oil prices have edged higher last week following the release of the EIA’s weekly petroleum report that showed crude stocks fell by 5.3 million bbl last week. If supplies fall again in this week’s report, crude prices could climb further. Dwindling supplies have put a spotlight on shrinking global crude inventories, which could cause oil prices to push to $70-$80/bbl this fall. Continued decline in crude production from Venezuela and anticipated reduced crude exports from Iran due to U.S.-imposed sanctions that go into effect in November could place greater pressure on the market. In the near term, U.S. crude production has not been impacted by Hurricane Florence, as there were no refineries in Florence’s path.

Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

AAA: New Cars Lose $3,000 Annually from this Single Expense

September 13th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

Drivers should keep resale value top of mind when buying a new vehicle

ORLANDO, Fla. (Sep. 13, 2018) – AAA’s 2018 Your Driving Costs study reveals the largest expense associated with purchasing a new car is something many drivers fail to consider – depreciation. In fact, it accounts for almost 40 percent of the cost of owning a new vehicle – more than $3,000 per year – and is influenced by a number of factors, including shifting consumer preferences. AAA urges car buyers to think about both market trends and length of ownership when shopping for their next vehicle purchase. 

“New vehicles offer the latest designs, cutting-edge technologies and warranties that offer peace of mind,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “But, car owners that like to change vehicles frequently should be thinking about the resale value – not just the purchase price – when choosing their next ride.”

Additional Resources

AAA’s annual analysis found demand for sedans has slipped as American appetite shifts to SUVs and pickup trucks. As a result, depreciation costs of these once-popular vehicles increased up to 13 percent as compared to last year. Electric and hybrid vehicles, however, have seen a gain in popularity with 20 percent of Americans saying they will likely go electric for their next vehicle purchase, up from 15 percent the previous year. This year, these vehicles also saw a dip in depreciation and offer many cost benefits such as lower repair and maintenance bills, making going green a more affordable choice than in years past.

Buyers often only give priority to purchase price and monthly payment when choosing a new car, sometimes selecting a vehicle based on the best deal available. The length of car ownership, however, is of equal importance. Consumers who plan to keep a vehicle for only a few years should be cautious of deep discounts and incentives offered by automakers and dealers. These are often designed to sell less popular models and directly influence depreciation. Low down payments and extended finance terms can also have a similar effect. Stretching a car loan over five, six or even seven years may be an effective way to lower payments, but owners may quickly find themselves owing more than the vehicle is worth.

Leasing is similarly affected since payments are based in part on the projected residual value of the car at the end of the lease, serving as a good indicator of which models experience higher or lower depreciation. Since resale value is not a factor at the end of the lease period, buyers who prefer less popular models or only want a vehicle for a short time, may consider leasing a more viable option.

“The secret to minimizing depreciation costs?” continued Nielsen. “Keep your car for a long time and keep it well-maintained or even consider buying a quality, pre-owned vehicle.”

AAA’s Your Driving Costs found the average cost to own and operate a new vehicle in 2018 is $8,849 per year. The figure is calculated based on the cost of fuel, maintenance, repairs, insurance, license/registration/taxes, depreciation and loan interest. The study examined 45 top-selling 2018 model-year vehicles across the following nine categories.

Vehicle Type Annual Cost*
Small Sedan $6,777
Hybrid $7,485
Small SUV $7,869
Electric Vehicle $8,384
Medium Sedan $8,866
Minivan $9,677
Medium SUV $9,697
Large Sedan $9,804
Pickup Truck $10,215
Average $8,849

*Based on 15,000 miles driven annually

While the latest technology, style and options make them attractive to car buyers, a new car may not be the most economical choice for some buyers. Vehicle owners looking for alternatives to new car ownership or ways to minimize their operating costs should consider the following:

  • Buy (gently) used – By driving a pre-owned vehicle in good condition, ownership costs are significantly lower. A safe, reliable vehicle can be found at an attractive price point.
  • Fuel responsibly – Avoid wasting money on premium grade gasoline unless your vehicle specifically requires it and, if you’re one of the 20 percent of Americans considering an electric car, these vehicles offer lower fuel and maintenance costs.
  • Show your car some love – It sounds counterintuitive, but spending money on routine maintenance can actually save you money in the end. To keep engines running cleaner and longer, consider switching to synthetic oil and upgrading to a higher quality fuel TOP TIER™ gasoline.
  • Slow down – When gas prices are high, small changes in the way you drive can make a big difference.

AAA’s Your Driving Costs study employs a proprietary methodology to analyze the costs of owning and operating a new vehicle in the United States, using data from a variety of sources, including Vincentric LLC. Additional information and detailed driving costs, including those for fuel, maintenance, repairs, insurance, license/registration/taxes, depreciation and finance charges can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com or AAA.com/YourDrivingCosts.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 59 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.

 

AAA 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

AAA 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.

(WASHINGTON, November 19, 2012) Today’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.42.  This price is two cents less expensive than one week ago and 28 cents less expensive than one month ago, however it is still five cents more expensive that one year ago and the highest price on record for this calendar day.  Today’s price continues the streak of daily record prices that began on August 20.

To begin last week, motorists in some of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy still faced long lines at the pump due to lingering regional fuel distribution issues in the aftermath of the storm.  In response to these lines, northern New Jersey, New York City and Long Island each imposed odd-even gasoline rationing policies.  As distribution has returned to normal and lines have dwindled, New Jersey ended rationing rules last Tuesday, after ten days, and Long Island lifted the restriction last Friday at midnight, after eight days.  Rationing in New York City was scheduled to end today but has been extended through Friday citing the Thanksgiving travel week.

Both long lines at the pump and gasoline rationing policies have drawn comparisons to those seen in the 1970s.  The circumstances, however, are very different.  While the recent situation was due to a temporary and regional disruption to distribution, the situation in the 1970s was due to a prolonged and nationwide supply shortage.

While pump prices in New York and New Jersey did increase following the hurricane, prices have just as quickly returned lower as power and distribution issues have been resolved.  Prices in Long Island are 16 cents lower than one week ago, prices in New York City are 11 cents lower and prices in New Jersey are eight cents lower.

Nationally, the retail price of gas has been falling steadily since mid-September.  Motorists in every state are paying less at the pump than they were one month ago, with the sole exception being drivers in Ohio. Consumers in the Buckeye State are paying one-tenth of a penny more than a month ago but still 36 cents less than in September.  Motorists in Hawaii ($4.11) and Alaska ($3.97) pay the most for a gallon of gasoline, while those in Missouri ($3.08) and South Carolina ($3.12) pay the least.

AAA expects that gas prices across the country will continue to decline approaching the end of the year, barring any major market moving news, as lower demand, cheaper winter-blend gasoline and economic concerns continue to pressure pump prices lower.

Two such potential market moving news items have been front and center over the last week: escalating violence between Israel and Palestine and the looming U.S. “fiscal cliff.”  While neither Israel nor Palestine is a major oil producer, increased geopolitical uncertainty in the Middle East puts upward pressure on prices, as do signs in Washington of progress working to address economic concerns.  Oil prices last week remained flat, however developments with both stories prompted bullish market sentiment and sent prices sharply higher today.  At the close of today’s formal trading on the NYMEX, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil was up $2.36 on the day to settle at $89.28 per barrel — the highest settlement price since this day last month.

(WASHINGTON, November 12, 2012) Today’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.44.  This price is three cents less expensive than one week ago and 36 cents less expensive than one month ago. For nearly three months the national average has been the highest on record each calendar day, however that gap has almost disappeared.  One month ago the national average exceeded the previous record for that day, also set in 2011, by more than 30 cents. Today it is less than a penny and may fall below last year’s price before the end of the week.

The national average reached a recent peak of $3.87 per gallon on September 14, the day before the many parts of the country made the seasonal switch from summer- to winter-blend gasoline. Since that peak, the price has fallen 43 cents, including 31 of the past 32 days as lower crude oil prices, reduced demand, and economic growth concerns have pressured pump prices lower.  Every state and Washington, D.C. has a price today that is lower than mid-September, and in many cases the price is much lower.  However, nine states (Ill., Ind., Kent., Mich., Minn., New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Wisc.) have seen prices rise in the last week.

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, power outages in New York and New Jersey left many stations unable to operate pumps, despite gasoline in their storage tanks.  Long lines developed quickly in many areas with only a limited number of open stations. Even as power was restored to some stations, others with electricity ran out of fuel to sell because of distribution issues from closed petroleum terminals and infrastructure damage.  While stations have continued to reopen as electricity has been restored to many impacted regions, long lines have persisted as distribution and resupply issues are slowly resolved.

On Nov. 2, AAA estimated that 45-50 percent of stations in New Jersey and 40-45 percent of stations in New York City were in operation – meaning they had conducted at least one fuel transaction that day.  As of today, AAA estimates this number has improved to 70-75 percent of stations in New York City and 80-85 percent in New Jersey.

Looking up the supply chain, to the closed terminals that are currently the primary factor in distribution issues, on November 1 the Department of Energy reported that 13 of 57 terminals in the path of the storm were closed, as of today the Agency reports that seven remain shut.  The issues in restoring these terminals to normal operation is the primary reason motorists have continued to experience lines at gas stations in some areas, and has led to continued gasoline rationing in New York City and Long Island. New Jersey announced today that it is ending gasoline rationing beginning at 6:00 AM tomorrow morning.

This continues to be a distribution problem and not a systemic issue with gasoline supplies.  As petroleum terminals return to service, there is plenty of gasoline ready to make its way to stations.  Once this is able to happen, AAA expects pump prices in affected areas to follow the rest of the country lower. AAA predicts that the national average price will be $3.25-3.40 by Thanksgiving and $3.10-3.30 by the end of the year.

Lower crude oil prices have added to the recent downward pressure on retail gasoline prices.  With continued signs of global economic weakness and a somewhat stronger U.S. dollar, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices have continued to move lower.  At the close of today’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI crude oil was down 50 cents on the day to settle at $85.57 per barrel.

(WASHINGTON, November 5, 2012) Today’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.47 — the lowest price in more than 100 days.  This price is 17 cents less expensive than one week ago and 34 cents less expensive than one month ago. The national average has been the highest on record each calendar day since late August; however the gap between this year’s price and the previous record has nearly closed.  Three weeks ago the national average exceeded the previous record for that day, also set in 2011, by more than 30 cents. Today it is only a nickel.  The national average price at the pump has now fallen for 24 consecutive days, the longest streak since prices earlier this year dropped 26 days in a row from May 15 through June 11.

The only lines longer than those expected at polling locations for tomorrow’s presidential election may be those seen during the last week at some gas stations in New York and New Jersey.  Power outages and distribution issues in the wake of Hurricane Sandy left some delivery terminals and service stations — particularly in Northern New Jersey and New York City — without electricity and thus unable to deliver gasoline to stations and consumers.  It is important for motorists to realize that this continues to be an issue of electrical supply rather than a gasoline shortage.  Once power is restored, there is more than adequate gasoline supply ready to be delivered to consumers.

The U.S. Department of Energy reported this morning that 11 of the 57 terminals affected by Hurricane Sandy remain closed.  On Friday, AAA estimated the number of stations operating in both New Jersey and New York City at 45-50% and Long Island at 35-40%.  As of this afternoon, AAA estimates that each of these numbers has improved: New Jersey – 55-60%, New York City – 60-65%, and Long Island – 50-55%.

The result of this truncated delivery system has been the sometimes long lines at those stations with power to run pumps and sell gasoline.  As power is restored in the coming days, these lines and distribution issues are expected to continue to diminish, and prices will be expected to move lower.

Since last Monday, the price at the pump has increased by three cents in New York and nearly seven cents in New Jersey.  During the same period, prices have fallen in every other state and Washington, D.C., led by declines on the West Coast: Calif. -18.5 cents, Wash. -13.6 cents, and Ore. -13 cents.  The price in every state, including New York and New Jersey, is lower today than it was one month ago.  During that time, the price has fallen by more than 40 cents in 11 states and by more than a quarter in 32 total states.

While prices in some storm affected areas have increased temporarily, ultimately the price impact of Hurricane Sandy will be due to demand destruction rather than supply destruction and pump prices will continue to decline.  When demand numbers are announced later this week, AAA expects that, in the days following the storm, American’s will have consumed one to two million barrels per day less of gasoline than in the days prior to the hurricane. This demand destruction will add to the recent downward pressure on gasoline prices from already low demand, continued economic concerns, and the switch to less expensive, winter-blend gasoline. AAA continues to predict that the national average will be $3.25-3.40 by Thanksgiving and $3.10-3.30 by the end of the year.

Lower crude oil prices have added to the recent doward pressure on retail gasoline prices.  With continued signs of global economic weakness and a somewhat stronger U.S. dollar, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices ended last week below $85 per barrel for the first time since July 10.  At the close of today’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI crude oil had risen back above this threshhold, settling down 79 cents on the day at $85.65 per barrel.

ORLANDO, Fla., September 26, 2011

Looking for Flood Damage

Many Americans have been devastated by flooding in the past few weeks and months. In those regions, private vehicle owners, auto dealers and car auction managers face the dilemma of salvaging or restoring flood-damaged vehicles.

AAA warns car buyers that flood-damaged vehicles can be shipped anywhere for resale, and they often continue to appear in the marketplace for up to a year after a major flood. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, vehicles that were flood-damaged in the hurricane affected areas were shipped throughout the United States for sale as both new and used cars.

“Depending on the vehicle make, model and age, the cost of a thorough cleaning and drying may exceed the car’s value,” said John Nielsen, director, AAA Auto Repair. “In many cases, insurance companies ‘total’ flood-damaged vehicles which are then sold to salvage companies.”

“However, rather than being disassembled for parts, some of these vehicles end up being purchased by individuals who bring varying levels of expertise to the restoration process,” continued Nielsen.

If a car has been completely submerged, extensive disassembly may be needed for a thorough cleaning. Many parts of a car are difficult to clean and dry because they are hard to access. Door locks, window mechanisms, wiring harnesses, heating and air conditioning components and many other small devices are tucked away in hidden spaces. Initially, these items may operate properly following a flood only to fail at a later date due to contamination.

The car’s electrical system is particularly vulnerable to flood water damage. Engine computers, sensors and other electrical devices can sometimes be salvaged but unless they are thoroughly cleaned and dried, problems caused by corrosion and oxidation may occur months after the flood.

AAA Tips…How to Spot a Flood-Damaged Vehicle

  • Obtain a CARFAX Vehicle History Report – This report can potentially reveal if the vehicle has been involved in a flood, major accident, fire, or uncover odometer fraud.
  • Engage your sense of smell to detect any damp or musty odors inside the vehicle.
  • Has the carpet or upholstery been replaced or recently shampooed? Pullback the carpet at different areas and look for mud, dirt or signs of water stains.
  • Inspect the dashboard underside for signs of mud and dirt. This is a particularly hard area to clean.
  • Look under the vehicle for corrosion. It is uncommon to find corrosion in newer vehicles and those that are owned or sold in southern states.
  • Open all doors, hood, and trunk to inspect for corrosion, mud and dirt or discoloration on the door frames, hinges and under the weather stripping. Pay special attention to small spaces and crevices that are difficult to clean.
  • Check all warning lights, window motors, and all electrical components to ensure they are working properly. While a non-working part alone does not mean the vehicle was flooded, it combined with other difficulties is a cause for concern.
  • Always have the vehicle inspected by a quality repair facility prior to purchasing. AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities are located across the United States. Nearby locations can be found at AAA.com/Repair.

AAA encourages motorists to contact their insurance companies before purchasing a flood-damaged vehicle. If the vehicle was purchased prior to the discovery that it was flood-damaged, owners should contact their insurance company for advice.

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 non-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 around the clock at AAA.com.

HEATHROW, Fla., September 16, 2011

AAA Automotive experts recommend ten things drivers should consider when selecting a shop to maintain and repair their vehicles

Fifty four percent of American drivers report they have decided to keep an existing vehicle rather than invest in a newer one, according to a recent AAA survey. In addition, many drivers are foregoing routine vehicle maintenance to save money now, knowing they risk higher repair costs in the future. These findings make it more important than ever for drivers to develop a trusted relationship with a professional auto repair facility.

AAA Automotive experts believe the best way to save money over the life of a vehicle is to choose a high-quality, full-service repair shop and allow them do all of the necessary maintenance and repair work.

“Drivers can take comfort in the knowledge that their vehicle will be serviced by trained professionals who can identify any potential problems,” said John Nielsen, AAA Director of Automotive Repair. “This helps prevent breakdowns, and often saves money by allowing drivers to make a small repair now rather than a much bigger one later.”

“As a repair shop’s technicians get to know a vehicle and its owner, they can also give valuable advice on any upcoming work that will be needed,” continued Nielsen.

The best time to look for a repair facility is before one is needed. Drivers can ask family and friends for recommendations, or visit AAA.com/repair to find nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) shops. AAA Automotive experts recommend that drivers consider these ten areas when selecting a repair shop:

1. Facility Type

When evaluating full-service auto repair shops, drivers have three basic choices:

  • Dealerships – Dealer service departments are very familiar with common problems on the makes of cars they sell. Dealers also have factory-trained technicians, and are keenly aware of technical service bulletins or other special service advisories.
  • Independents Quality independent repair shops may be slightly less expensive than dealers, and tend to have higher overall customer satisfaction. In addition, customers at independent repair shop are more likely to deal directly with the owner or technician, making it easier to develop relationships with the people who service their cars.
  • Specialists Some independent repair shops specialize in certain vehicle makes or specific vehicle systems. By focusing on a limited part of the market, these shops can provide very efficient and effective service.

2. Appearance

A clean, well-organized repair facility reflects attention to detail and an effort to maintain a professional image.

3. Amenities

The facility should have a comfortable waiting area and clean restrooms. Many shops now have pick-up and drop-off service for the convenience of customers.

4. Technicians

The facility should employ qualified technicians who receive ongoing training in the latest technology. Certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) are often posted, and dealerships may display vehicle manufacturer service training credentials. Collision repair shops often have certificates from training offered by the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR).

5. Equipment

A good repair shop will have up-to-date service equipment and repair data. The amount of information necessary to repair modern cars can no longer be effectively contained in paper manuals. Quality shops today have Internet access to repair information or an on-site service information library of CD/DVD ROMs.

6. Reputation

Time in business can be a good indicator of repair shop quality. Checks with the Better Business Bureau and state department of consumer affairs or Attorney General’s office will provide information on the shop’s handling of any consumer complaints.

7. Discounts

Selecting a quality repair facility that offers discounts on needed services is an excellent way to stretch repair dollars in this uncertain economy. Drivers who pay for repairs with a credit card may want to consider using the AAA Member Rewards Visa® card, whose reward points can be redeemed for $55 vouchers good towards auto repairs at any AAR facility. For more information, visit AAA.com/creditcard.

8. Warranty

Quality shops offer at least a 12-month/12,000-mile parts and labor warranty on their work. Drivers who travel regularly should make sure the warranty is honored nationally.

9. Look for the AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) sign

AAA created the AAR program more than 35 years ago to help motorists find high-quality automotive service. Today, there are nearly 8,000 AAR facilities across North America. The AAR program includes dealers, independent and speciality repair shops. Every AAA-approved facility undergoes a thorough investigation, and less than half of all applicants are approved. AAA looks into all the areas discussed above, and much more. After approval, AAR shops are visited quarterly, re-inspected annually and monitored for customer satisfaction to ensure ongoing compliance with AAA standards. To locate nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities, visit AAA.com/repair.

In addition to the added peace of mind that comes with AAA approval, AAA members receive the following benefits at AAR shops:

  • Free Maintenance Inspection – On request, when having paid repair work done by an AAR facility, your vehicle will be inspected at no charge for those items that most frequently contribute to roadside breakdowns.
  • Written Estimate – You will be provided a written estimate of the cost of all work to be performed on your vehicle. The final cost may not exceed the estimate by more than 10 percent unless authorized by you in advance.
  • Warranty – Unless otherwise specified in writing prior to the start of work, all repairs (both parts and labor) are guaranteed for a minimum of 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first, under normal operating conditions.
  • Dispute Resolution – AAA will investigate any dispute between a AAA member and an AAR facility. AAA’s resolution decision is binding on the facility, but you are not bound by AAA’s decision and may seek recourse through other avenues.

Many AAR facilities also participate in the AAA Show Your Card & Save program and offer discounts to AAA members. Visit AAA.com/discounts for more information.

10. Test-Drive the Repair Shop

Once a potential repair facility has been identified, visit the shop for a minor service like an oil change or tire rotation. While you wait, talk with the repair facility employees and do a final evaluation of the shop using the criteria discussed above.

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 it’s 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. Visit AAA clubs on the Internet at AAA.com.

 

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