Author Topic: AAA replacement  (Read 1743 times)

El Gringo

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AAA replacement
« on: December 17, 2016, 10:49:29 AM »
I have an old 2000 Toyota Corolla that I use mainly just to leave DC. It's been nice to have AAA, both in case I get stuck while traveling somewhere away from home, and also because sometimes I go so long without using my car that I've needed to call AAA to jump the car battery. I'm wondering if there's a cheaper option out there for bailing me out of any emergencies. (On a side note, I'm not a fan of AAA's public policy positions that encourage vehicle usage, and would prefer to put my money towards an organization that actively encourages alternative uses of transportation)

Birdie55

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Re: AAA replacement
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2016, 10:54:25 AM »
My auto insurance has towing included in the premium.  Check your insurance to see if they already include or will include for a fee less that AAA costs. 

Spork

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Re: AAA replacement
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2016, 10:59:37 AM »
Dumb question, but: how much have you actually used it?  Do the math on it and see if it's really worth it.  It might be... or it might not be.

I've been driving 36 years.  I've had a fair number of cars (and some old classic/clunker/likely to be towed types).  I've used a tow truck or AAA equivalent 5 times.  (Three of those were for the same old car.)

The last tow I had was $80... so that's $400 total (in todays dollars) of towing expense or about $11 a year.  I'm sticking with my "self insure" model.

If you're just using them for an occasional jump, I'd instead buy a trickle battery charger.
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El Gringo

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Re: AAA replacement
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2016, 11:15:00 AM »
I don't think I've ever used them for towing. I have used them 2-3 times over a number of years for changing my tire. Most often I've used them for jumping my battery, as on numerous occasions it was so drained that I couldn't jump it from another car (one time they had to replace the battery). I guess my biggest concern has been getting stuck on a trip far from home where towing home would be really expensive.

I actually currently failed to renew my AAA and instead increased my car insurance to include it. But in order to include Emergency Road Service for $40/year, Geico also required me to include comprehensive for $70/year (having a 2000 Corolla with something like 120,000 miles, I never bothered with comprehensive before). I edited my coverage recently to include it because I was going on a trip and wanted to make sure I had that emergency road service, but I'm thinking of taking it off again. But wanted to see if there was another good alternative to AAA.

Spork

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Re: AAA replacement
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2016, 11:22:44 AM »
I don't think I've ever used them for towing. I have used them 2-3 times over a number of years for changing my tire. Most often I've used them for jumping my battery, as on numerous occasions it was so drained that I couldn't jump it from another car (one time they had to replace the battery). I guess my biggest concern has been getting stuck on a trip far from home where towing home would be really expensive.

I actually currently failed to renew my AAA and instead increased my car insurance to include it. But in order to include Emergency Road Service for $40/year, Geico also required me to include comprehensive for $70/year (having a 2000 Corolla with something like 120,000 miles, I never bothered with comprehensive before). I edited my coverage recently to include it because I was going on a trip and wanted to make sure I had that emergency road service, but I'm thinking of taking it off again. But wanted to see if there was another good alternative to AAA.

I would either put a trickle charger on that battery or the next time I replaced it, I'd buy a marine battery.  Batteries do not like being drained to zero.  (Marine batteries are reinforced and weather discharge better.) 

I suspect AAA won't tow you home if you're far away.  I suspect they'll tow you to the nearest repair facility.  I bet that is in the range of $40-100.  My point is that you're likely paying $65 a year for insurance that avoids a $70 cost.  If you don't incur that cost often, you're in the hole.  You need to do the math.  It is likely just paying for the roadside assistance directly would be cheaper.
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jeninco

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Re: AAA replacement
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2016, 09:15:19 PM »
If the issue is their policy and lobbying, try Better World Club. They also offer bike roadside assistance!

MilesTeg

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Re: AAA replacement
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2016, 05:48:30 PM »
Dumb question, but: how much have you actually used it?  Do the math on it and see if it's really worth it.  It might be... or it might not be.

I've been driving 36 years.  I've had a fair number of cars (and some old classic/clunker/likely to be towed types).  I've used a tow truck or AAA equivalent 5 times.  (Three of those were for the same old car.)

The last tow I had was $80... so that's $400 total (in todays dollars) of towing expense or about $11 a year.  I'm sticking with my "self insure" model.

If you're just using them for an occasional jump, I'd instead buy a trickle battery charger.

Hard to put a dollar value on not having to rely on the generosity of strangers to get you out of a jam, or rely on finding a decent stranger rather than someone with nefarious intent.

Mtngrl

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Re: AAA replacement
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2016, 07:41:39 PM »
The Chase Sapphire Rewards card includes roadside assistance as a card benefit -- along with a host of other bennies, such as extended warranties and replacement insurance for items bought with the card.

Spork

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Re: AAA replacement
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2016, 08:23:47 PM »
Dumb question, but: how much have you actually used it?  Do the math on it and see if it's really worth it.  It might be... or it might not be.

I've been driving 36 years.  I've had a fair number of cars (and some old classic/clunker/likely to be towed types).  I've used a tow truck or AAA equivalent 5 times.  (Three of those were for the same old car.)

The last tow I had was $80... so that's $400 total (in todays dollars) of towing expense or about $11 a year.  I'm sticking with my "self insure" model.

If you're just using them for an occasional jump, I'd instead buy a trickle battery charger.

Hard to put a dollar value on not having to rely on the generosity of strangers to get you out of a jam, or rely on finding a decent stranger rather than someone with nefarious intent.

No.  But you can put a value on how much of the service you HAVE used.

Calling a tow truck for a jump is probably around $50.  If you do it twice a year... then AAA is cheaper.  If you do it once every 2 years, then you might just call a tow truck.  Either way, buying a decent battery and a trickle charger is cheaper than any of those choices.

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HipGnosis

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Re: AAA replacement
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2016, 12:01:21 PM »
I think you ought to do the math on owning a car at all.
If you're only using so infrequently that the battery is going totally dead between, and you don't feel it's reliable even when it starts, then you should look into renting a car when you need one.  Every brand name car rental will replace the car if it breaks down on you.

ketchup

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Re: AAA replacement
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2016, 12:41:41 PM »
AAA can be worth it for the benefits and discounts alone if you travel much.

We got our membership in October, and it's already paid for itself with my GF's business travel.  10% off at many hotels (Red Roof, Econolodge and Hyatt for sure) and varying discounts at Hertz for car rentals (waives the "young driver" fee which is huge; GF is 24).  A bunch others too, but those are what we've used so far.

MilesTeg

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Re: AAA replacement
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2016, 01:00:31 PM »
Dumb question, but: how much have you actually used it?  Do the math on it and see if it's really worth it.  It might be... or it might not be.

I've been driving 36 years.  I've had a fair number of cars (and some old classic/clunker/likely to be towed types).  I've used a tow truck or AAA equivalent 5 times.  (Three of those were for the same old car.)

The last tow I had was $80... so that's $400 total (in todays dollars) of towing expense or about $11 a year.  I'm sticking with my "self insure" model.

If you're just using them for an occasional jump, I'd instead buy a trickle battery charger.

Hard to put a dollar value on not having to rely on the generosity of strangers to get you out of a jam, or rely on finding a decent stranger rather than someone with nefarious intent.

No.  But you can put a value on how much of the service you HAVE used.

Calling a tow truck for a jump is probably around $50.  If you do it twice a year... then AAA is cheaper.  If you do it once every 2 years, then you might just call a tow truck.  Either way, buying a decent battery and a trickle charger is cheaper than any of those choices.

I was more alluding to the non monetary value of the membership for real roadside emergencies (not just a jump or tire change). Imagine, for example, being a young woman with small children and having a break down on the highway. Would you rather flag down a stranger, have to pick a random towing company, etc. or just need to call the auto club that will (be much more likely) to send a decent professional to help you out? $75/year is pretty cheap and as others have mentioned it can be a negative cost if you travel frequently.

Obviously it's a luxury to have but hardly a terrible form of insurance.

But if you want to talk about monitary only, a quick jump is cheap, getting towed to a service shop in the event of a breakdown can cost

El Marinero

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Re: AAA replacement
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2016, 05:55:30 PM »
Before renewing with AAA, make a call to your insurance company for a quote.

State Farm charges me a whopping $8.04  per year for emergency road service.  I haven't had to use it in years, but when I did, a reimbursement check arrived promptly after I forwarded the towing receipt to my agent.
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ShortStuff

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Re: AAA replacement
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2017, 12:18:45 PM »
Be wary of recommendations to choose cheaper roadside assistance via your auto INSURANCE company.
Yes, it is cheaper than AAA (AAA is $80/yr for 2 drivers vs. $10-12/yr via insurance co). However, many insurance companies process your towing roadside assistance as an accident claim.  In essence, the insurance company treats that call for a tow as a "claim" and puts it onto your "CLUE report" which is your claim history.  Whereas a call to AAA is completely private, and has no link to your insurance claim history.
Filing that claim can increase your auto insurance rates if you decide to swap insurance companies in the future. 

Don't believe me? See here:
http://money.cnn.com/2006/06/23/news/companies/towing_insurance/
and here:
http://www.clarkhoward.com/when-not-to-contact-your-insuran

For us, the cheaper rate from our insurance company is not worth messing up our clean accident history if we need a tow. 
However, thanks to recommendations here, I think we may drop AAA and rely on the towing coverage provided by our credit card Chase Sapphire preferred (although it only covers up to $50). 
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popcornflying

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Re: AAA replacement
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2017, 08:05:21 PM »
I've never used it, but Visa Signature credit cards come with  $60 pay-per-use roadside assistance at the number 1-800-VISA-TOW . Google VISA TOW for more info.

Many Visa Signature cards have no annual fee.




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Re: AAA replacement
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2017, 06:21:59 PM »
I save a few local towing companies phone numbers in my cell phone. Along with cab companies. Of these, I've only had to call for a cab, never a tow.

I were out of town, I'd just Google for tow companies near my location.
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FIFoFum

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Re: AAA replacement
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2017, 06:44:54 PM »
I don't think I've ever used them for towing. I have used them 2-3 times over a number of years for changing my tire. Most often I've used them for jumping my battery, as on numerous occasions it was so drained that I couldn't jump it from another car (one time they had to replace the battery). I guess my biggest concern has been getting stuck on a trip far from home where towing home would be really expensive.

I actually currently failed to renew my AAA and instead increased my car insurance to include it. But in order to include Emergency Road Service for $40/year, Geico also required me to include comprehensive for $70/year (having a 2000 Corolla with something like 120,000 miles, I never bothered with comprehensive before). I edited my coverage recently to include it because I was going on a trip and wanted to make sure I had that emergency road service, but I'm thinking of taking it off again. But wanted to see if there was another good alternative to AAA.

I would either put a trickle charger on that battery or the next time I replaced it, I'd buy a marine battery.  Batteries do not like being drained to zero.  (Marine batteries are reinforced and weather discharge better.) 

I suspect AAA won't tow you home if you're far away.  I suspect they'll tow you to the nearest repair facility.  I bet that is in the range of $40-100.  My point is that you're likely paying $65 a year for insurance that avoids a $70 cost.  If you don't incur that cost often, you're in the hole.  You need to do the math.  It is likely just paying for the roadside assistance directly would be cheaper.

AAA has membership tiers that determine how many tows (and at what distance) are included. Last I checked (and had to use it!), the top tier included one tow of up to 200 miles. AAA also will keep calling to find someone, even if you need the tow when it's harder to find someone (weekends, holidays, etc.). And the upper tiers can include needing to tow from one shop to another, if for some reason the original choice can't service your vehicle.

As someone who has driven through parts of the country where you can't presume you'll have good/reliable data & the nearest shop could easily be 50-100 miles away, AAA has served me well. I've known when I don't have a reliable (or reliable ENOUGH) vehicle for the driving I'm doing, and I have no concerns about using the membership benefits I've paid for.
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InnTee

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Re: AAA replacement
« Reply #17 on: February 27, 2017, 10:56:26 AM »
Very useful info! I just canceled my Allstate roadside assistance, which was costing a whopping $99/year. (So despite the suggestions above, auto insurance add-ons are not necessarily cheaper.)  I'll now rely on pay-per-use through the credit card companies.

tarheeldan

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Re: AAA replacement
« Reply #18 on: February 27, 2017, 11:09:53 AM »
The Chase Sapphire Rewards card includes roadside assistance as a card benefit -- along with a host of other bennies, such as extended warranties and replacement insurance for items bought with the card.


Thank you! I didn't connect the dots and I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Specifically, it says:
"If you have a roadside emergency, you can call for a tow, jumpstart, tire change, locksmith or gas. You’re covered up to $50 per incident 4 times a year."

Which means I just cancelled my AAA membership. Thanks again!

ShortStuff

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Re: AAA replacement
« Reply #19 on: March 13, 2017, 09:18:33 AM »
Was shopping for auto insurance, and read an article that reminded me of this thread. 

A quote from the article:
People add "roadside assistance coverage on their auto insurance because it’s cheap. But Smith recommends not doing the latter because “if you cost the insurance company money by asking for a tow, that will cost you money too, and that might affect your premium.”"
https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2015/01/09/you-can-save-hundreds-on-car-insurance-but-is-it-a-good-idea/#391401532f9d
That tip was straight from an insurance agent. 

So again take caution from those who recommend tow coverage from your insurance, because if you use it, it will definitively show up as a claim.

For those who added towing coverage with your insurance agency, have you used it?  Did you see your annual rate increase the following year?  I'm very curious.
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