Posts Tagged ‘Cost of Driving’

Summer Travelers Seek Fun in the Sun

May 1st, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

Julie HallORLANDO, Fla. (May 1, 2018) – Millions of Americans are counting down the days until their summer vacations, with most U.S. travelers planning trips to warm-weather destinations. Orlando has retained its top spot as the most visited domestic travel destination, while Honolulu and Maui, Hawaii, have both grown in popularity compared with last summer.

Additional Resources

  • Inforgraphics: 1 | 2

“This is shaping up to be another banner season for travel as Americans look to get out and enjoy themselves in the summer sun,” said Bill Sutherland, senior vice president, AAA Travel and Publishing. “Travelers are making plans now to visit theme parks, sail away on cruise vacations, relax at the beach and explore cities in the U.S. and across the globe.”

Domestic Travel

The top domestic summer travel destinations, based on AAA Travel bookings for trips June 1 through August 15, are:

  1. Orlando, Florida (1)
  2. Honolulu, Hawaii (4)
  3. Anchorage, Alaska (2)
  4. Seattle, Washington (3)
  5. Los Angeles/Anaheim, California (5)
  6. Maui, Hawaii (7)
  7. Fairbanks, Alaska (6)
  8. Las Vegas, Nevada (8)
  9. Boston, Massachusetts (13)
  10. Salt Lake City, Utah (14)

*Number in parentheses indicates summer 2017 ranking.

Road trips remain the most popular family vacation option for those staying stateside, despite higher gas prices. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of those planning a family trip are expected to hit the roads this year.

International Travel

“Many Americans, including those traveling as a family, will venture overseas for their summer vacations,” continued Sutherland. “More than one-third of families who are planning a trip together this year will visit an international destination.”

Rome has regained its standing as the most popular locale for international summer vacations, while Dublin and Paris both continue to climb in the rankings. Beach destinations in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico can also expect an influx of travelers this summer.

AAA’s top international summer travel destinations include:

  1. Rome, Italy (3)
  2. Vancouver, British Columbia (1)
  3. Dublin, Ireland (4)
  4. London, England (2)
  5. Paris, France (7)
  6. Montego Bay, Jamaica (8)
  7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (5)
  8. Calgary, Alberta (10)
  9. Cancun, Mexico (6)
  10. Amsterdam, Netherlands (9)

*Number in parentheses indicates summer 2017 ranking.

Summer Travel Tips

AAA’s travel experts offer their top tips for travelers planning summer vacations, including:

  • Plan ahead – Book early for the best deals and availability on hotels, airfare, car rentals and more.
  • Work with a travel agent – Travel agents often have access to extra amenities and added benefits to help plan the perfect summer vacation. They can also be a tremendous help in the event something changes or goes wrong on your trip.
  • Be flexible – If your schedule permits, avoid traveling during peak times this summer, including Memorial Day weekend and around Independence Day, to encounter less congestion and fewer crowds.
  • Safety first – If driving, get plenty of rest before setting out on your road trip. Schedule breaks every two hours or 100 miles to remain alert and avoid driving drowsy.
  • Make sure your vehicle is road trip ready – Take your vehicle to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Pack an emergency kit that includes a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers.
  • Pack your patience – Summer is one of the busiest travel times of the year. Expect heavy crowds and allow plenty of time to get to your destination safely.

To help travelers plan their summer vacations, AAA’s professional inspectors have assessed nearly 59,000 hotels and restaurants across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Every AAA Inspected & Approved hotel and restaurant is acceptable for the type of experience it provides. Ratings, from One to Five Diamonds, help travelers find the level of services, facilities and amenities they’re looking for on their vacation. Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments in the AAA Mobile app, AAA Travel Guides and TripTik Travel Planner.

For more information and to begin planning a trip, visit AAA.com/Travel.  

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 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.

Move Over Baby Boomers, Millennials Embrace Family Travel

March 15th, 2018 by AAA Public Affairs

Julie HallAAA survey reveals an estimated 88 million Americans will take family trips this year.

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 15, 2018) – Led by millennials, some 88 million Americans plan to take family vacations this year. According to the latest research from AAA Travel, 44 percent of millennials are planning a family getaway, more than members of Generation X (39 percent) or baby boomers (32 percent).

“Just like generations before them, millennials see a family vacation as one of the best ways to create memories and reconnect with loved ones,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president of Travel and Publishing. “No matter their age, families are going on not just one, but multiple vacations throughout the year to revisit favorite destinations and experience new places.”

Additional Resources

  • Infographics: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

As travelers seek new sights, AAA expects family trips abroad to be a hot trend in 2018. Of families who will take a trip this year, 35 percent plan to visit an international destination – a nine percentage point increase from just two years ago. Based on advance travel bookings, AAA predicts the top five most likely international destinations for families will be:

  1. Cancun, Mexico
  2. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  3. Montego Bay, Jamaica
  4. Rome, Italy
  5. Dublin, Ireland

“We’ve seen increased demand for international travel overall, and that trend is now starting to appeal to families,” continued Sutherland.

For families staying stateside, expensive gas prices – the highest prices seen since 2014 – are not stopping vacation planners from packing up their cars for a road trip. They remain the most popular option for family vacations, with nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of those planning a trip expected to hit the roads.

Additional AAA family travel highlights for 2018:

  • Families are taking more trips per year. One in four (27 percent) traveling families is planning to take three or more family vacations in the next 12 months, 12 percentage points more than in 2016.
  • Family travelers are looking for new experiences. Three-quarters (73 percent) of families that are planning a vacation this year are seeking a destination they have not previously visited.
  • Families are seeking R&R. When looking for these new experiences, families are choosing destinations with attractions such as beaches and mountains (61 percent), opportunities for sightseeing (59 percent) and relaxation (56 percent).

AAA’s travel experts recommend that families plan their trips with AAA’s Diamonds in mind. AAA’s professional inspectors assess nearly 59,000 hotels and restaurants across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean to assign AAA Diamond Ratings. Every AAA Inspected & Approved hotel and restaurant is acceptable for the type of experience it provides. Ratings, from One to Five Diamonds, help travelers find the level of services, facilities and amenities they’re looking for on their vacation. Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments in the AAA Mobile app, AAA Travel Guides and TripTik Travel Planner.

To help families even further, AAA’s inspectors have identified some of their favorite family-friendly hotels for 2018. To learn more and begin planning a trip, visit AAA.com/TravelTips.

AAA’s family travel research is the result of a telephone survey (landline and cell phone) consisting of 1,005 adults living in the continental United States. Interviewing for this survey was conducted January 26-28, 2018. This study has an average statistical error of ±7 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 58 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.

ORLANDO, Fla. (December 14, 2017) – ‘Tis the season to traditionally spend with family and friends and this year Americans are traveling in record numbers. AAA forecasts 107.3 million Americans will take to planes, trains, automobiles and other modes of transportation during the year-end holiday period from Saturday, Dec. 23 through Monday, Jan. 1. This will be the highest year-end travel volume on record and a 3.1 percent increase in travel volume compared with last year. 2017 marks the ninth consecutive year of rising year-end holiday travel. Since 2005, total year-end holiday travel volume has grown by 21.6 million, an increase of more than 25 percent.

Additional Resources

“More expensive gas prices are not swaying holiday revelers to stay home,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing. “In fact, across the board this year, travel has increased year-over-year for every major holiday weekend – Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving – and we project the same for the year-end holiday period. We’ve seen the strong economy and growing consumer confidence fuel holiday travel all year long.”

For the 97.4 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, in collaboration with AAA, predicts travel times during the holiday week could be as much as three times longer than the normal trip.

By the Numbers: 2017 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast

  • Automobiles: The majority of travelers – 97.4 million – will hit the road (a 3 percent year-over-year increase).
  • Planes: 6.4 million people will travel by air, a 4.1 percent increase and the fourth year of consecutive air travel volume increases.
  • Trains, Buses, Rails and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 2.2 percent to 3.6 million.

Holiday Headache Hotspots
Based on historical and recent travel trends, INRIX expects drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion before the holiday week – on Wednesday, Dec. 20 and Thursday, Dec. 21 – in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. For example, drivers in New York City could see travel times peak at three times a normal trip between 3:30 and 5:30pm.

“With record-level travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays in major metros,” says Dr. Graham Cookson, chief economist & head of research at INRIX. “Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak times altogether or consider alternative routes.”

Worst Days/Times to Travel

Metro Area Worst Day for Travel Worst Time for Travel Delay Multiplier
New York, NY Wednesday, Dec. 20 3:30 – 5:30 PM 3x
Los Angeles, CA Wednesday, Dec. 20 3:30 – 6:00 PM 2.5x
Washington, DC Thursday, Dec. 21 3:00 – 6:00 PM 2.5x
San Francisco, CA Wednesday, Dec. 20 3:00 – 5:30 PM 2x
Chicago, IL Thursday, Dec. 21 4:00 – 6:00 PM 2x
Boston, MA Thursday, Dec. 21 2:30 – 4:30 PM 2x
Seattle, WA Wednesday, Dec. 20 4:00 – 6:00 PM 2x
Atlanta, GA Thursday, Dec. 21 4:30 – 6:30 PM 1.5x
Houston, TX Wednesday, Dec. 20 5:30 – 7:30 PM 1.5x
Detroit, MI Thursday, Dec. 21 3:00 – 5:30 PM 1.5x

Source: INRIX

Travel Tip: Try to avoid traveling through major cities during peak travel times. The best times to leave are typically early morning or after the morning commute because the roads should be less crowded and you will have more time to get to your destination safely. If your schedule permits, traveling on the holiday itself often results in fewer cars on the road.

Pricey pump prices to decrease
The 90 percent of holiday travelers choosing to drive will find the most expensive year-end gas prices since 2014. This December’s national average price is $2.47 (Dec. 1-13), which is 28 cents more than last December. The good news is that AAA does expect the average to drop at least another five cents by year-end, saving motorists a few pennies at the pump.

Airfare and hotel rates trend cheaper, car rentals increase year-over-year
Holiday airfares are nearly 20 percent cheaper than last year. At $165, the average end of year holiday airfare for a round-trip flight for the top 40 domestic routes is at a five-year low, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. On average, 2017 airfares are 5 percent less expensive compared to 2016. Overall, competition, capacity over-expansion and lower oil prices are contributing to the decline. Travelers can also find savings at AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated hotels. On average, a Three Diamond hotel nightly rate is $156, a two percent year-over-year decrease. The Two Diamond nightly average rate is $121, a five percent decrease from last year.

Similar to Thanksgiving, car rental rates are more expensive on the year. At $74, the daily car rental rate increased 11 percent. This sets a new five-year record high rate for year-end holiday travel. The increase is on par with the rate increases seen at Thanksgiving.

Top 10 Year-End Holiday Travel Destinations
For a second year, Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California, top this year’s top 10 holiday destinations based on AAA.com bookings. Warmer weather destinations reign supreme in winter months with Cancun, Kahului (Maui) and Montego Bay gaining in popularity as holiday spots compared with last year.

  1. Orlando, Fla.
  2. Anaheim, Calif.
  3. Cancun, Mexico
  4. Honolulu, Hawaii
  5. Kahului (Maui), Hawaii
  6. Montego Bay, Jamaica
  7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  8. Miami, Fla.
  9. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  10. New York, N.Y.

Travel Tip: Airports will be busy and security lines may be longer than usual around the holidays. Travelers should plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to the scheduled departure of their flight. During peak travel times, contact your airline for guidance, as it may be necessary to arrive even earlier. This time of year travelers need to also be aware of potential weather delays. Make sure to check flight status regularly before traveling to the airport. To expedite travel, AAA recommends enrolling in programs such as TSA PreCheck and Global Entry.

Lockouts, flat tires to strand nearly one million motorists
The vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations, and AAA expects to rescue nearly one million (901,600) motorists. Car battery-related issues, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA is called for roadside assistance over the holidays. For members in need of roadside assistance, download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP. For added convenience, Wazers can now request AAA roadside assistance directly from the Waze app by tapping the Report menu.

Before hitting the road, make sure your vehicle is road-trip ready. Stop by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America, for an inspection. In case of an emergency, be prepared by keeping a cell phone and charger with you at all times. Carry an emergency kit with a flashlight, extra batteries, warning devices such as flares or reflective triangles, jumper cables, a first-aid kit and extra water.

Travel Tip: Get plenty of rest before setting out on a holiday road trip and schedule breaks every two hours or 100 miles to remain alert and avoid driving drowsy. Also, be aware of the dangers of driving distracted. Drivers should designate a passenger to serve as their official text messenger and navigator.

Download the AAA Mobile app before your holiday getaway
Before heading out on your year-end holiday road trip, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find nearly 59,000 AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Inspected & Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

About the AAA travel forecast:
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2017 year-end holiday travel forecast is available here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 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.

About INRIX:
INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.

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.

Julie HallMore than 103 million Americans will travel this holiday season

ORLANDO, Fla. (December 15, 2016) – More than 103 million Americans—the most on record—are expected to travel for the year-end holidays, according to AAA. This represents a 1.5 percent increase, or 1.5 million more people traveling, compared with last year. This comes despite one fewer travel day this holiday season. The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Friday, December 23 to Monday, January 2, 2017.

Additional Resources

The increase in holiday travel this year is being driven by additional consumer spending, a result of improvements in the labor market and rising wages. Additionally, low gas prices and increased consumer optimism will prompt more Americans than ever to set out on road trips, take to the skies, or board trains, buses and cruise ships to celebrate the holidays.

“’Tis the season for holiday travel, and this year more Americans will travel to celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year than ever before,” said AAA President and CEO Marshall Doney. “Rising incomes and continued low gas prices should make for a joyous holiday travel season.”

Most travelers will drive this holiday season The vast majority of travelers—93.6 million people—will take a holiday road trip, an increase of 1.5 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase by 2.5 percent, with more than 6 million Americans flying to their holiday destinations. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will decrease slightly, to 3.5 million travelers.

New Year’s gas prices second-cheapest in nearly a decade AAA estimates U.S. drivers have saved more than $27 billion at the gas pumps so far this year compared to the same period last year. Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.23, 23 cents more than the average price on New Year’s Day 2016 ($2.00). Most U.S. drivers will pay the second-cheapest New Year’s Day gas prices since 2009, when the national average was $1.62.

Holiday airfares, hotel rates and car rental prices mixed According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, holiday airfares are projected to average $204 for a roundtrip flight along the top 40 domestic routes. Rates for AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated lodgings are expected to increase 7 percent, with travelers spending an average of $128 and $160 per night, respectively. Daily car rental rates will average $66, slightly lower than last year’s holiday travel season.

Warm-weather destinations top the list of most popular holiday destinations With the exception of New York City—an-ever popular holiday destination—warm-weather locales in Nevada, Florida and California top the list of most popular destinations for this holiday season, based on AAA.com bookings.

  1. Las Vegas, Nevada
  2. Orlando, Florida
  3. New York City
  4. San Diego, California
  5. Anaheim, California

AAA to rescue more than 980,000 motorists this holiday season AAA expects to rescue more than 980,000 motorists over the 11-day holiday travel period, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. Drivers should have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the nearly 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.

For motorists who may encounter winter weather conditions during their holiday road trips, AAA recommends checking windshield wipers and inspecting tires to ensure safe drivability before setting out. Pack an emergency kit containing a snow shovel, flashlight, ice scraper, jumper cables, warning devices and extra warm clothing for everyone riding in the vehicle. When driving, slow down and do not tailgate. Leave following distances to a minimum of five to six seconds to allow additional braking room should a sudden stop become necessary.

Before hitting the road, drivers should also get plenty of sleep to avoid driving drowsy. Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers who miss just one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep nearly double their risk for a crash. For long trips, drivers should travel at times when normally awake, schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles, avoid heavy foods, travel with an alert passenger and take turns driving, and avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment.

Download the AAA Mobile app before a holiday getaway Before setting out on a holiday trip, travelers should download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can help map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

About the travel forecast: AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS 2016 year-end holiday travel forecast can be found here.

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.

U.S. Drivers Waste $2.1 Billion Annually on Premium Gasoline

September 20th, 2016 by Jessica Souto

ErinSteppAAA testing shows no benefit to splurging on premium fuel when not required by the manufacturer

ORLANDO, Fla. (September 20, 2016) – According to new AAA research, American drivers wasted more than $2.1 billion dollars in the last year by using premium-grade gasoline in vehicles designed to run on regular fuel. With 16.5 million U.S. drivers having used premium fuel despite the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation in the last 12 months, AAA conducted a comprehensive fuel evaluation to determine what, if any, benefit the practice offers to consumers. After using industry-standard test protocols designed to evaluate vehicle performance, fuel economy and emissions, AAA found no benefit to using premium gasoline in a vehicle that only requires regular-grade fuel.

Additional Resources

“Drivers see the ‘premium’ name at the pump and may assume the fuel is better for their vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “AAA cautions drivers that premium gasoline is higher octane, not higher quality, and urges drivers to follow the owner’s manual recommendations for their vehicle’s fuel.”

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA tested 87-octane (regular) and 93-octane (premium) gasoline in vehicles equipped with a V-8, V-6 or I4 engine designed to operate on regular-grade fuel. To evaluate the effects of using a higher-octane fuel when it’s not required by the manufacturer, each vehicle was tested on a dynamometer, which is essentially a treadmill for cars that is designed to measure horsepower, fuel economy and tailpipe emissions when using both fuel types and variety of driving conditions. The laboratory testing found no significant increases in any tested category, indicating the practice of using premium gasoline when it’s not required for the vehicle offers no advantage.

“AAA’s tests reveal that there is no benefit to using premium gasoline in a vehicle that requires regular fuel,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. “Premium gasoline is specifically formulated to be compatible with specific types of engine designs and most vehicles cannot take advantage of the higher octane rating.”

To understand the magnitude of the issue, AAA surveyed U.S. drivers to understand what type of fuel their vehicles require and the frequency at which they upgrade to premium fuel. Results reveal:

  • Seventy percent of U.S. drivers currently own a vehicle that requires regular gasoline, while 16 percent drive vehicles that require premium fuel. The remaining 14 percent own a vehicle that requires mid-grade gasoline (10 percent) or uses an alternative energy source (4 percent).
  • In the last 12 months, 16.5 million U.S. drivers unnecessarily used premium-grade gasoline in their vehicle at least once. On average, those that upgraded to premium gasoline did so at least once per month.
  • In the last 12 months, U.S. drivers unnecessarily used premium gasoline in their vehicle more than 270 million times.

“When it comes to gasoline, ‘premium’ does not mean ‘better’ if your vehicle doesn’t require it,” continued Nielsen. “Drivers looking to upgrade to a higher quality fuel for their vehicle should save their money and select a TOP TIER™ gasoline, not a higher-octane one.”

Previous AAA research found that fuel quality varies significantly among gasoline retailers and that using a gasoline that meets TOP TIER standards can result in 19 times fewer engine deposits, increase vehicle performance and improve fuel economy. To protect vehicle investments, AAA urges drivers to use the appropriate gasoline as determined by their car’s manufacturer (regular or premium) that meets TOP TIER standards for engine cleanliness and performance.

To calculate the total annual cost of using premium gasoline when not required by the vehicle manufacturer, AAA conducted a comprehensive analysis that included a U.S. consumer survey, Federal Highway Administration data, per-gallon costs of premium gasoline and regular gasoline and the average number of fill-ups annually. All testing was conducted at the Automotive Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center in Los Angeles, California, using an industry-standard chassis dynamometer, emissions test equipment and Environmental Protection Agency driving cycles. All gasoline used for testing was EPA Tier III certification fuel with ten percent ethanol content in both regular and premium grades. Certified test fuel was used to remove variability in fuel quality and additives. For this study, AAA did not evaluate the effects of using regular fuel in an engine that requires premium gasoline.

For additional information about premium fuel, including the full test report and fact sheet, 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.

Julie HallThe great American road trip is back; Memorial Day travel volume will be second-highest on record

ORLANDO, Fla. (May 19, 2016) – AAA projects more than 38 million Americans will travel this Memorial Day weekend. That is the second-highest Memorial Day travel volume on record and the most since 2005. Spurred by the lowest gas prices in more than a decade, about 700,000 more people will travel compared to last year. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 26 to Monday, May 30.

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“Americans are eagerly awaiting the start of summer and are ready to travel in numbers not seen in more than a decade,” said Marshall Doney, AAA President and CEO. “The great American road trip is officially back thanks to low gas prices, and millions of people from coast to coast are ready to kick off summer with a Memorial Day getaway.”

AAA estimates that Americans have saved more than $15 billion on gas so far this year compared to the same period in 2015, and prices are at the lowest levels in 11 years. The strong labor market and rising personal income are also motivating people to travel for Memorial Day this year.

Low gas prices driving increase in auto travel this Memorial Day

Nearly 34 million (89 percent) holiday travelers will drive to their Memorial Day destinations, an increase of 2.1 percent over last year as a result of lower gas prices. Air travel is expected to increase 1.6 percent over last year, with 2.6 million Americans taking to the skies this Memorial Day. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will fall 2.3 percent, to 1.6 million travelers.

Lowest Memorial Day gas prices in 11 years expected

The national average price for a gallon of gasoline today is $2.26, 45 cents less than last year. AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the lowest Memorial Day gas prices since 2005. According to a recent AAA survey, 55 percent of Americans say they are more likely to take a road trip this year due to lower gas prices.

Airfares, hotel and car rental rates

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be 26 percent cheaper this Memorial Day, with an average roundtrip ticket costing $165. Hotel costs are in line with last Memorial Day. AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels will average $183, while a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel will average $151 nightly. Daily car rental rates will average $62, three percent less than last year.

AAA to rescue more than 350,000 motorists this Memorial Day

AAA expects to rescue more than 350,000 motorists during the Memorial Day holiday travel period, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires. AAA recommends motorists check the condition of their battery and tires before heading out on a road trip. Also, have vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the nearly 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.

Memorial Day travelers heading to warm weather destinations & cities

Many Memorial Day travelers will head to warm weather destinations and historic American cities to kick off their summer travels. The top destinations this Memorial Day weekend, based on AAA.com and AAA travel agency sales, are:

  1. Orlando
  2. Myrtle Beach
  3. Washington, D.C.
  4. New York
  5. Miami
  6. San Francisco
  7. Boston
  8. Honolulu
  9. Los Angeles
  10. South Padre Island

Download the AAA Mobile app before a Memorial Day getaway

Before setting out for Memorial Day, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants via TripTik Travel Planner. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Global Insight 2016 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast can be found here.

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.

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, March 28, 2016) The national average price of gas climbed above $2 per gallon last Thursday for the first time in 2016, and average prices have increased for 21 consecutive days. Today’s average price of $2.04 per gallon is up six cents per gallon on the week and 30 cents per gallon for the month. Despite the recent increase, average gas prices remain 39 cents per gallon less than a year ago.

2013-2016_Avg-Gas-Prices-3-28-16

Many refineries are conducting seasonal maintenance, which has led to a decline in fuel production. In addition, refineries are preparing to produce summer-blend gasoline. This blend of gasoline is mandated by the EPA and is less prone to evaporate and contribute to air pollution in warmer temperatures. Retailers in many parts of the country are required to sell this summer-blend of gasoline by June 1, and leading up to this deadline, refineries and storage facilities also adjust their supply in order to comply with the regulation. During the months of March and April, refineries will begin the transition to producing and storing this blend of gasoline, and often “sell-off” or “draw-down” on their existing supply of gasoline in order to make room for this seasonal blend of gas. This reduction in supply often leads to higher prices at the pump, because during this transition period, demand for gasoline generally begins to increase as warmer temperatures motivate more drivers to take to the roads. The combination of the above factors generally contributes to rising prices at the pump, leading into the busy summer driving season.

California ($2.77) remains the nation’s most expensive market for retail gasoline, and inventories in the state reportedly fell to an 11-week low due to ongoing refinery challenges and increased demand. Consumers in second-place Hawaii ($2.56) are paying 21 cents per gallon less than the market leader, and regional neighbors Nevada ($2.41), Alaska ($2.29) and Washington ($2.28) round out the top five most expensive markets for gas. On the other end of the spectrum, New Jersey ($1.83) and Missouri ($1.85) are the nation’s least expensive markets.

Top10-Highest-Average-Gas-Prices-3-28-16

Retail averages in the vast majority of states (47) are higher on the week, and consumers in 28 states and Washington, D.C. are paying a nickel or more per gallon at the pump versus one week ago. Gas prices are up double digits in five states with the largest weekly increases experienced by drivers in Arizona (+14 cents), New Hampshire (+11 cents), Massachusetts (+11 cents) and Connecticut (+11 cents).  Prices have fallen over this same period in three states, but in less dramatic fashion. Averages are down on the week in Michigan (-6 cents), North Dakota (fractions of a penny), and Minnesota (fractions of a penny).

Top10-Largest-Monthly-Increases_3-28-16

With the exception of Hawaii (-1 cents), consumers nationwide are paying more to refuel their vehicles month-over-month. The average price at the pump is up by a dime or more per gallon in the vast majority of states (48) and Washington, D.C. on the month, and motorists in 35 states are paying averages that are up by a quarter or more per gallon over this same period. The biggest jumps in price have been in states west of the Rockies: Arizona (+52 cents), Nevada (+44 cents), and California (+40 cents).

Despite rising averages, consumers nationwide continue to see yearly savings at the pump. Drivers in 47 states and Washington, D.C. are saving more than a quarter per gallon when they refuel their vehicles, and averages are down more than 50 cents in a total of six states compared to this same date last year. Year-over-year, the largest savings in the price of gas are in: Alaska (-63 cents), Illinois (-61 cents) and Oregon (-59 cents).

Varying expectations of future supply and demand have contributed to the global oil market’s overall volatility. As a result, the global price of crude oil continues to seesaw on news related to potential market influencers, and many traders are focused on the upcoming meeting between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers scheduled for April 17. An overall bearish sentiment persists and market fundamentals continue to point to oversupply. Despite ongoing talks, there is persistent skepticism regarding the prospects for reductions or freezes in production, and crude oil prices are likely to continue to remain volatile in the near-term.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil opened the week trading a bit higher, following a week of fluctuating prices due to news of increasing crude oil inventories balanced against reports of falling rig counts in the United States. The NYMEX was closed on Friday in observance of Good Friday, and WTI closed out Thursday’s formal trading sesson on the NYMEX down 33 cents and settled at $39.46 per barrel.

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.

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, March 21, 2016) Pump prices have climbed higher for two straight weeks, and the national average price of gas may soon climb above $2 per gallon for the first time this year. Gas prices have increased largely due to seasonal increases in fuel demand and reduced production as some refineries conduct maintenance.  Today’s average price of $1.98 per gallon is a the highest daily mark since January, and drivers are paying a nickel more per gallon than a week ago and 27 cents more per than a month ago. Despite retail averages rising, consumers continue to benefit from yearly savings and prices remain 44 cents per gallon cheaper than a year ago.

2013-2016_Avg Gas Prices 3-21-16

 

Gas prices tend to reach the highest levels of the year in the spring before the summer driving season. As the weather turns warmer and days grow longer, people tend to drive more, which results in increased demand. Many families also take spring break road trips this time of year, which means they may use more gasoline than normal. This increase in demand comes at the same time that many refineries conduct maintenance to prepare equipment for the busy summer driving season, which leads to a temporary decline in fuel production. In addition, refineries also begin to transition to summer-blend gasoline, which is more expensive to produce, but mandated due to the fact that it is causes less air pollution at warmer temperatures. These factors typically lead to higher gas prices this time of year and have helped push prices higher in recent weeks.

Drivers on the West Coast are currently experiencing a surge in the price at the pump due to the imbalance between supply and demand, and averages are up double-digits on the week in select markets.

ExxonMobil’s Torrance, Calif. refinery experienced a power outage and is reportedly delaying the restart of its gasoline production equipment. The refinery produces about 10 percent of California’s gasoline, has been operating at reduced capacity since February 2015, and this additional reduction in supply is contributing factor to prices moving higher in the region.

Top10 Highest Average Gas Prices-3-21-16

For the second consecutive week, California ($2.68) leads the nation with the highest average price for retail gasoline. Consumers in the Golden State are paying 13 cents per gallon more than second-place Hawaii ($2.55), and gas prices could move higher in the near term due to refinery issues. Nevada ($2.32), Washington ($2.24) and Alaska ($2.22) round out the top five most expensive markets. The nation’s least expensive market for retail gasoline is New Jersey ($1.73), which is also the only state with an average price below $1.75 per gallon.

Top10 Largest Weekly Increases_3-21-16

Consumers in the vast majority of states (45) and Washington, D.C. are paying more at the pump versus one week ago. Retail averages in 19 states are up by a nickel or more per gallon week-over-week, and gas prices in Arizona (+19 cents), Nevada (+12 cents) and Florida (+11 cents) have climbed higher by more than a dime per gallon over this same period. Averages are down in five states on the week, but have fallen in a less dramatic fashion. Motorists in Missouri (-4 cents), Illinois (-3 cents), Minnesota (-2 cents), Ohio (-1 cents) and Indiana (fractions of a penny) are experiencing weekly savings at the pump, but prices have fallen by less than a nickel per gallon in each of these states.

With the exception of Hawaii (-4 cents) and Alaska (-4 cents), two of the nation’s most expensive markets, drivers nationwide have seen prices rise by more than a nickel per gallon compared to a month ago. Gas prices are up double-digits in 43 states and Washington, D.C. on the month, and consumers in 26 states have seen prices climb by a quarter per gallon or more over this same period. Drivers in the Midwestern states of Nebraska (+41 cents), Kentucky (+40 cents), Kansas (+38 cents) and Iowa (+38 cents) are experiencing the largest monthly increases in price due to a significant decline in regional production as local refineries either conduct maintenance or cut back on production due to low margins.

Consumers in every state and Washington, D.C. are benefiting from yearly savings at the pump of more than a quarter per gallon. Averages in 13 states are down 50 cents or more year-over-year, with the largest savings in states west of the Rockies: Alaska (-71 cents), Oregon (-67 cents), California (-60 cents) and Utah (-60 cents).

For the first time in 13 weeks, the U.S. oil rig count increased, which raises the possibility of continued strong production in the United States despite relatively low crude oil prices. Both Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed last week with gains, but each benchmark moved lower on Friday as oversupply concerns again come into focus. Global oil prices are expected to continue to move in response to ongoing discussions by some of the world’s top producers to potentially freeze production, which could be finalized at a meeting scheduled for April 17. The U.S. dollar is also in focus after posting its largest two-day loss in value since 2009. All eyes are on the Federal Reserve to see if corrective action is taken to help boost its value. A weaker dollar makes oil relatively less expensive for investors holding other currencies, which could help offset some of the market’s losses.

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI was down 76 cents to settle at $39.44 per barrel.

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.

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