Posts Tagged ‘AAA Automotive’

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.

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“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

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

Proper vehicle maintenance can avoid some causes of engine trouble

ORLANDO, Fla., (December 19, 2011) – AAA anticipates it will come to the aid of more than 800,000 stranded motorists during the year-end holiday period, as 83.6 million holiday travelers choose to take to the roadways for their holiday travel plans.  Between December 23, 2011 and January 2, 2012 the nation’s largest motor club will be busy with battery replacements and jump starts, changing tires, extricating vehicles from snow, towing vehicles for repair and more. 

“Becoming stranded on the roadway can quickly dampen your holiday spirit,” said Marshall L. Doney, vice president, AAA Automotive.  “Whether you are planning local day trips or long distance year-end holiday travel, having your vehicle properly maintained and prepared for the rigors of holiday driving will help ensure it gets you to your destination safely and without incident.”

AAA projects its roadside problem-solvers will be able to remedy the issues of more than three out of five stranded motorists at the roadside and send them on their way, but about a quarter of a million travelers will still need a tow this year-end holiday season.

After the need for a tow, the second largest roadside rescue service AAA anticipates performing is replacing or jump starting dead batteries. More than 194,000 requests for help with a dead battery are expected and among those rescues, AAA roadside service personnel will conveniently replace more than 52,000 failed batteries on the spot.    

AAA expects to retrieve more than 104,000 sets of keys locked inside vehicles, change more than 95,000 tires and perform more than 38,000 vehicle extrications during the year-end holiday period.  Additionally, AAA will deliver fuel to more than 11,000 stranded motorists and perform a variety of miscellaneous roadside rescue services for approximately 91,000 motorists.  

Motorists can avoid the causes of some roadside breakdowns by keeping their vehicle properly maintained.  AAA advises motorists to follow their vehicle manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and make sure their vehicle is ready for the rigors of year-end holiday driving. 

Motorists seeking a trustworthy repair shop to help prepare their vehicle for winter driving are encouraged to visit one of AAA’s more than 8,000 Approved Auto Repair facilities. AAA’s network of approved repair shops is a free public service that enables consumers to identify professional auto shops staffed by certified technicians who are equipped with the proper tools and equipment to service today’s high-tech automobiles. Consumers can find Approved Auto Repair facilities online at

AAA members who are Android and iPhone users can download AAA Roadside, a mobile smartphone application that enables motorists in need of roadside rescue request help without making a phone call. The user simply enters the details of their situation and clicks an onscreen button. AAA Roadside then transmits the information, and the user’s location as established by the phone’s GPS technology, directly to AAA Roadside Assistance. The app also displays nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair locations so members can easily choose where to have their vehicle towed, if necessary during this year-end holiday season. 

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

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 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

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

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 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


ORLANDO, Fla., August 3, 2011

One in four American drivers could not pay for a car repair of $2,000 if faced with one today, according to the results of a survey released by AAA. The survey also found one in eight would be unable to pay for a repair bill of $1,000.

Christie HydeMore than half of American drivers also said they are holding onto their older vehicle because they do not want the financial burden of a new one. And, one quarter of drivers admitted to neglecting repairs and maintenance on their vehicles in the past 12 months due to the economic climate, which AAA Automotive experts say can greatly increase the likelihood of their car needing a costly, major repair.

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“Economic conditions have taken their toll on many Americans resulting in them neglecting their cars and leaving them at increased risk for very expensive repair bills,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA Vice President, Automotive and Financial Services. “Many Americans rely on their cars for their livelihood and losing access to them could be financially devastating during an already troubling economic time.

“It’s important for drivers to not only continue to maintain their vehicles, but also have a financial emergency plan in place should they be faced with a sudden unexpected auto repair bill,” continued Doney.

According to the survey, 38 percent of American drivers could pay for a $2,000 repair bill with funds in a savings account, while 20 percent would pay with their credit card. Eleven percent said they would have to borrow money from their friends, family, retirement or home equity in order to pay for a $2,000 repair.

Slightly more Americans reported being able to pay for a $1,000 repair bill with 46 percent saying they could use savings and 22 percent using a credit card. Fourteen percent would look to borrow from their friends, family, retirement or home equity.

AAA Automotive experts explain that a $1,000, $2,000 or higher repair bill can quickly appear – especially on older vehicles that have not been properly maintained. While repair costs can vary greatly by make, model and type of repair, a transmission repair can be $2,000 to $4,000, while an engine repair can exceed $5,000. Major brake repairs may range from $350 to $1,000, and a new set of tires can run from $300 to more than $1,000.

AAA offers several services to help members prepare for and save on costly repair bills including:

  • AAA Approved Auto Repair – AAA inspects and approves nearly 8,000 auto repair shops in the U.S. and Canada. Approved shops meet tough professional standards for customer service, cleanliness, equipment and training. All AAA members receive a free maintenance inspection upon request in conjunction with any other paid service. Additionally, many AAA Approved Auto Repair shops participate in the AAA Show Your Card & Save program, providing discounts on repair and maintenance to AAA members. A listing of nearby approved shops is available at


  • AAA Online Savings – AAA encourages Americans to have an emergency fund set aside for unexpected expenses such as costly auto repair bills. AAA offers an Online Savings Account through Discover Bank that provides easy access to funds in the event of an emergency. Additionally, the AAA Online Savings Account offers special AAA member-only interest rates, more than five times the national average, according to Informa Research Services, with interest compounded daily for maximum earnings. Members can open a AAA Online Savings Account at


  • AAA Member Rewards Visa – For those who pay for auto repairs with their credit card, the AAA Member Rewards Visa® credit card offers members an opportunity to earn vouchers good towards auto repairs at AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities. In addition to 2,500 bonus points, members receive one point for every dollar they spend, with triple points on AAA and travel purchases and double points on gas, grocery and drug store purchases. Members can redeem as little as 5,000 points for a voucher good at any AAA Approved Auto Repair facility, allowing this month’s repair bill to help pay for future ones. Members can apply for the AAA Member Rewards at

Some AAA products may not be available in all areas. Members should contact their local AAA club with questions about availability.

The telephone survey was conducted among a sample of 1,009 adults, 18 years of age and older, living in the continental United States. The survey has an average statistical error of ±3.6 percent at the 95 percent confidence level for all U.S. adults.

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

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.


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.


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 Additional information on AAA Auto Buying is available at

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 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

To assist holiday shoppers looking for the perfect gift this season, AAA releases its top picks for automotive-related gifts.

(ORLANDO, FLA. – 12/4/2009) With nearly a quarter of a billion vehicles on the road in the U.S., a gift for the car is something just about everyone can use.

“Automotive gifts do not have to be limited to the gear head in your life. AAA’s picks include items for those who like to tinker under the hood or simply enjoy the ride as a passenger,” said John Nielsen, director of AAA Approved Auto Repair and Buying Network.

AAA’s top picks for automotive-related gifts this holiday season include:

MagnoGrip Wristbands ($16) — For the person who is always tinkering with their vehicle, a magnetic wristband can make it easier to hold onto small bolts, fasteners and other pieces that can frequently get misplaced under the hood. The polyester wristband is embedded with a super strong magnet to hold metal parts in place until they are needed.

Magellan Roadmate GPS ($199) Just about any motorists will enjoy a Magellan Roadmate GPS navigation unit as a holiday gift. The latest model—the Magellan Roadmate 1445T—includes a 4.3-inch color touch screen and exclusive AAA TourBook information with ratings and descriptions on AAA approved places to stay, play, dine and save as well as AAA Approved Auto Repair locations. A highway lane assist function points users to the right exit, and Traffic Link provides subscription-free, live traffic updates. AAA members receive discounts and other benefits from Magellan on several units. Visit for details.

Digital Tire Gauge ($10-$30) — Less than one in 10 vehicles has four properly inflated tires, making a digital tire gauge a gift any motorists can use. Improperly inflated tires wear out more quickly and can cause handling and braking problems that make vehicle operation less safe. AAA recommends motorists check the pressure in their tires at least once a month and inflate tires to the pressure levels posted on the driver’s door jamb—not on the tire sidewall. A digital tire gauge makes it easier to read the pressure level in a tire. A variety of models are available. Look for one with a backlit display for easier reading in low light conditions.

USB Car Charger ($14-$25) — Many gadgets these days come with USB charging cables, such as iPods and smart phones. Rather than purchasing a separate 12-volt adapter for each gadget, a USB car charger converts a vehicle’s 12-volt outlet into a USB charging outlet. With the growing number of gadgets using USB chargers, it’s smart to look for an adapter that provides more than one USB outlet.

Cordless LED Work Light ($26-$60) — A cordless LED work light can be a great addition to the garage and/or a vehicle’s emergency kit. Look for one that’s shatterproof, waterproof and comes equipped with a hook or stand to allow use of both hands while working on the car. A rechargeable unit will help save on replacement batteries, but make sure it comes with both a wall charger and 12-volt car charger—especially if planning to keep it in a vehicle.

AAA Battery Tender ($29-$59) — The AAA Battery Tender is a great gift for anyone who has a vehicle they do not use a full-time basis, such as a collectable vehicle, seasonal car, golf cart, ATV, RV or motorcycle. By keeping the battery charged when not in use, a Battery Tender extends battery life and ensures the vehicle will be ready to start the next time it is driven. Two units are available; the AAA Battery Tender Junior will maintain a battery’s charge, while the AAA Battery Tender Plus can also recharge a wide variety of lead-acid vehicle batteries. AAA members receive a discount on Battery Tender units purchased through select AAA clubs.

Heated 12V Blanket ($21-$35) — Many drivers and passengers battle over the car’s climate control settings during road trips. While dual climate control has resolved this issue for some, for those whose vehicles do not include that feature, a heated 12-volt blanket might be a good gift. Several styles and colors are available. Look for one with a long cord to provide access for backseat passengers, and a safety timer with automatic shut-off.

Remote Start System ($80-$600) — For those living in cold-weather environments, a remote start system can be a gift they will thank you for every cold morning. Systems vary greatly in features and pricing. Some features to look for include a visual confirmation that the remote start is engaged, such as flashing the headlights; a pin switch on the hood to prevent the vehicle from starting when the hood is up; transmission monitoring to ensure the vehicle is in park before it will start; the ability to manually shut down the engine via the remote transmitter; and a coolant temperature or oil pressure sensor to automatically shut down the engine if it starts to overheat or loses oil pressure. Also, make sure the system is compatible with any vehicle immobilizer system, which may require a key with an imbedded microchip to start the car. To ensure safe and proper operation, it’s best to have a remote start system installed by a reputable auto repair facility.

AAA Membership ($38-$80) — The gift of a AAA membership provides peace of mind that comes from knowing the nation’s oldest and largest motor club will come to the rescue in a time of need. AAA membership also provides the recipient with year-round discounts on a wide variety of products and services at retail stores, auto repair facilities, hotels, restaurants, attractions, prescriptions and much more. For information on memberships, visit

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 51 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


Orlando, Fla. – 10/27/2009

Erin SteppAs part of AAA Car Care Month, motor club warns foregoing maintenance and needed repairs can put drivers, passengers and those in surrounding vehicles in danger

Disregarding maintenance on your vehicle can definitely result in costly repairs. However, AAA reminds motorists that ignoring their vehicle’s upkeep also can put them, their passengers and others on the road in danger.

“Some motorists have cut back on maintenance or put off needed vehicle repairs due to tight budgets in this tough economy—especially if the vehicle remains drivable,” said John Nielsen, director, AAA Approved Auto Repair and Buying Services. “But, delaying certain repairs can be a dangerous gamble for motorists as some conditions can make their vehicles unsafe and at greater risk for a crash, a fire or a roadside breakdown.”

Five elements critical to safe vehicle operation are:

Traction — Maintaining good traction with the road is imperative, but when tires begin to lose their tread, traction in poor conditions is significantly reduced. Worn tires with little tread are much more likely to hydroplane on wet pavement or lose traction in the snow, resulting in a loss of braking power and steering control—two of the most dangerous situations in which drivers can find themselves.

Check the tread depth of a vehicle’s tires whenever it appears low. Insert a quarter upside down into a tire groove. If you can see above Washington’s head at any point, start shopping for new tires. Making a necessary investment in new tires when tread depth begins to recede is critical to vehicle safety.

Suspension & Alignment — Wheels, shock absorbers, springs and struts work together to keep vehicles moving in the direction they are steered with minimal pitch and body roll. Neglecting to maintain these components—especially struts and shock absorbers which wear out as more miles are driven—can lead to unsafe driving conditions, including loss of vehicle control during sudden turns or at higher speeds that can lead to a crash. A poorly maintained suspension and alignment also will accelerate tire wear reducing the available traction in adverse driving conditions,

Braking — Properly working brakes are essential for safe driving, but old brake fluid or low fluid levels can lead to brake fade or failure. Fluid contamination also accelerates wear and corrosion of various brake hydraulic system components.

Brake fluid hydraulically converts foot pressure at the brake pedal into stopping power at the wheels. An adequate supply of clean fluid is essential. Old, moisture-contaminated brake fluid, or a low fluid level that allows air to enter the system, can lead to brake fade or even a complete loss of braking power. Contaminated fluid also increases wear and corrosion in the brake hydraulic system, which can include expensive electronic anti-lock brake system (ABS) components.

Inspect the brake fluid level at every oil change. If the level has fallen below the “low” mark on the fluid reservoir, it usually indicates major brake wear or a leak somewhere in the system; have the brakes inspected as soon as possible. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend that brake fluid be replaced every two years or so to flush moisture and contaminants from the system. Check the vehicle owner’s manual for specific recommendations.

Fluids — Leaking fluids are a sure sign of needed maintenance. They also can be a dangerous fire hazard. Oil, power steering fluid, transmission fluid and brake fluid are all flammable and can burst into flame when contacting a hot engine or exhaust component. Each year fire departments answer more calls for vehicle fires than for house fires. Fluid leaks are the primary culprit. Have fluid leaks inspected and remedied as soon as they are detected.

Vision — Motorists’ ability to see where they are going and spot any obstacles in their way is vital to safe driving. Rain, insects, grime and other debris on the windshield will compromise vision if the windshield wipers cannot remove them.

If the wiper blades are worn, cracked or rigid with age, they will not adequately remove rain, grime and other debris that can obscure motorists’ vision. If the wiper blades are sufficiently deteriorated, the metal wiper blade frame could contact and permanently damage the windshield. Where mud or other debris is being thrown up on the windshield, a good spray of the proper type windshield washer fluid will aid the wiper blades in removing containments.

Check a vehicle’s wiper blades at each oil change or whenever they fail to wipe the glass clean in a single swipe. The life of a rubber insert is typically six to 12 months depending on its exposure to heat, dirt, sunlight, acid rain and ozone. Streaking and chattering are common clues that the rubber is breaking down and needs replacement. Check the washer fluid reservoir monthly and more often if the washers are used frequently. Top it up with a washer solution formulated to aid in the removal of insects and other debris. In winter, be sure to use a product with appropriate antifreeze protection.

Certified technicians at AAA Approved Auto Repair shops can be trusted to provide motorists with guidance on what repairs are critical to their vehicles safety. AAA inspects and certifies more than 8,000 auto repair shops across North America as a free public service to all motorists. Shops can be identified by the AAA Approved Auto Repair sign, or by searching online at

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 51 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



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