Author Topic: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?  (Read 18278 times)

nawhite

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AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« on: August 27, 2013, 09:25:24 AM »
So I've now seen a couple people on this forum (and a lot of my friends and family) recomment I get AAA (American Automotive Association). Personally I think it is absolutely not worth it but I want to hear other forum member's opinions.

Cost of Membership for a 2 dirver house: $117/year ($200 for the upgrade level, I'll put upgraded benefits in parentheses)

Benefits:
Free 4 mile tow (100 mile tow)
Free Roadside assistance including: Jump start, tire change, gas delivery
Free unlock service if you lock yourself out of your car
$50 for locksmithing ($100)
Free Extrication/winching if you're stuck (up to 2 trucks)
Discounts on car rentals/maps/ other travel things
Free maps.

So for starters, I live in the west so a 4 mile tow is a joke and I'd need the 100 mile towing to help me at all. So I'd be paying $200/year.

I just had a 60 mile tow which cost me $175.
Last year I had to pay for an unlock which was ~$50
Roadside assitance, I have no problem fixing these things myself and I check my gas gauge regularly and even if I didn't, roadside assistance costs like $50 per instance.
Getting a new key made for my car cost about $20 at a hardware store, and it even had a chip.

So unless I need a major tow every year plus something else or blow 4 tires/year every year, there is no possible way this membership will pay for itself. Why in the world to people think AAA is such a good deal? Am I missing something awesome with their insurance offering or something?

huadpe

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2013, 09:32:32 AM »
It depends on circumstances I think.  For example, I frequently do long road trips to Canada to see my boyfriend.  I like having AAA because if I have a breakdown on I-90 45 miles outside Rochester, I frankly don't know who to call to get a tow.  One of the benefits of AAA is not just that they'll pay for the tow (or at least hookup + 1st 4 miles), but that they'll arrange a tow when you're in a place you don't know. 

Also, if you're not gonna be apart when you're road tripping, just get a single membership for $50+tax.  AAA will cover any car you're in, even if you're the passenger.

brand new stash

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2013, 09:48:22 AM »
I don't have AAA for many of the same reasons that you mention.  Even if I break down in an unfamiliar location, I'll just use my phone to search AAA rated mechanic in the town I'm near, and call them. 

nawhite

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2013, 09:48:31 AM »
But if you have the cell service to call AAA, you have the ability to call 411 and have them arrange a tow truck if you're not willing to check google yourself. If I'm in a place without service, then I'm already getting a ride to a gas station who will know of multiple towing services. Finding a tow really isn't that hard.

BigRed

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2013, 09:56:36 AM »
AAA is very much NOT mustachian.  The vast majority of your AAA membership money goes to lobbying efforts to increase spending on car-centric infrastructure and against policies that are not in the interests of car owners (higher gas taxes, a carbon tax, etc).  A mustachian would never support those efforts.

MeForNow

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2013, 10:21:41 AM »
My auto insurance has an optional towing policy.  It costs something like $10 a year?  I don't remember the amount, just know it made AAA look like highway robbery.

I was a AAA member for many years.  I liked the "one number to call" aspect.  Also they have a battery service that's nice, where they will bring a battery to your location, install it and sell it to you if it's all you need.  May only be in big cities?

I also got a lot of good maps from them.  But I no longer use paper maps. Weird life.

Another angle: AAA uses their money to lobby for things that some are opposed to. There's a competitor called Better World Club that has similar services, although actually less services since they are so much smaller.  They offer bicycle towing as part of the plan, which seems pretty sweet.  I think they may be the only bike tow service.    I think their prices are similar to AAA though, so just calling a tow truck when you need one is probably much better deal.

There are also a number of apps to find a tow truck.

BigRed

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2013, 10:28:52 AM »
I get roadside assistance through GEICO.  It costs $12/year.  That woke me up to how much of my AAA membership must be for lobbying in favor of auto-centric policies: nearly all of it.

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2013, 11:03:03 AM »

I vote no.

I've been towed 4 times in 33 years of driving (and 3 of them were the same broken down non-mustacian British car...  Had I not had that, we'd be at 1 time in 33 years.)

I've run out of gas once (unknown broken gauge on same broken down non-mustacian British car).

I've had to hike once when a spare tire was flat at about age 18 (and now I check the damn things every so often).

Usually you can find someone to jump start if you have your own cables... and if you drive a stick, you can just push  start it.

I just don't see much need for it.   Maybe if I had a 16 year old daughter that drove alone at night I'd have enough father fear to buy it.  But ... for me I can't see that it's worth it.

Ottawa

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2013, 11:22:49 AM »
I also vote NOT Mustachian.

Mustachians bike everywhere!

Having said that, we have a car.  10 year old VW Jetta. 
It broke down once (ignition coil) - but was able to limp to the garage on 3 cylinders...so we weren't stranded there.

I played brinkmanship once with fuel...trying to get a cheaper gas price...and ran out of gas in the winter.  Walked 2 km to gas station at -15C, bought 5 liters and got free ride back to car.

I think preparation is important.  You can do this by keeping the car serviced to start with...but also having the means to fix common problems.  For example - I have the following in the car's trunk:

car jack in working order, a breaker bar, a torque wrench, a small portable air compressor (works off car battery) and a small tool kit, jumper cables, blanket, gloves, flashlight, first aid kit...we also take our GPS on all trips, cellphone and cellphone charger.  With the tech items...we know exactly where the nearest gas station, garage, hospital etc are. 

Preparation is the easiest way to defeat the *FEAR* created by the stuff that AAA/CAA pedal...

huadpe

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2013, 11:38:07 AM »
I think this is starting to look like a $50 facepunch coming in my direction.

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2013, 11:41:47 AM »
AAA is very much NOT mustachian.  The vast majority of your AAA membership money goes to lobbying efforts to increase spending on car-centric infrastructure and against policies that are not in the interests of car owners (higher gas taxes, a carbon tax, etc).  A mustachian would never support those efforts.

This!! (e.g. http://www.railstotrails.org/ourWork/whereWeWork/national/news/AAA.html)

If none of the other replies here convince you, and you feel you really need roadside assistance, try this program: https://www.betterworldclub.com/

BTW, before you open your wallet, you might want to read (or re-read) this MMM post: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/06/07/safety-is-an-expensive-illusion/

SavingMon(k)ey

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2013, 12:55:08 PM »
My auto insurance has an optional towing policy.  It costs something like $10 a year?  I don't remember the amount, just know it made AAA look like highway robbery.

I was a AAA member for many years.  I liked the "one number to call" aspect.  Also they have a battery service that's nice, where they will bring a battery to your location, install it and sell it to you if it's all you need.  May only be in big cities?

I also got a lot of good maps from them.  But I no longer use paper maps. Weird life.

Another angle: AAA uses their money to lobby for things that some are opposed to. There's a competitor called Better World Club that has similar services, although actually less services since they are so much smaller.  They offer bicycle towing as part of the plan, which seems pretty sweet.  I think they may be the only bike tow service.    I think their prices are similar to AAA though, so just calling a tow truck when you need one is probably much better deal.

There are also a number of apps to find a tow truck.
I have had Better World Club for several years. Their service has always been great. I also have the bike service as I don't have family around here to rescue me on long rides. Haven't used that service yet, but I totally trust the company.

kh

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2013, 04:13:01 PM »
Going to throw it a different opinion here. If you travel in such a way that you often needed to stop at hotels, the AAA discount can pay for the membership fairly quickly (I've done a lot of TX to upper Midwest drives myself to see family). Yes it's technically possible to stop at a campground or something, but MN in January isn't especially enjoyable camping.

Also a single moving truck rental knocked off $65 for me, or over half of membership cost in one weekend.

ncornilsen

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2013, 04:23:33 PM »
AAA is very much NOT mustachian.  The vast majority of your AAA membership money goes to lobbying efforts to increase spending on car-centric infrastructure and against policies that are not in the interests of car owners (higher gas taxes, a carbon tax, etc).  A mustachian would never support those efforts.

Don't tell me what I must and must not support in order to be a mustachian. I should buy a AAA membership now, simply so they do continue fighting against the scam that is carbon taxation. (assuming I can verify they actually do that. It's a cheap way to contribute to stopping that train wreck.)
« Last Edit: August 28, 2013, 04:29:20 PM by ncornilsen »

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2013, 05:12:03 PM »
I use AAA about 3 times a year for my cars. I find that living out West there are a lot of isolated roadways when traveling from Arizona to Las Vegas and plenty of nails on the road. I never would have thought of AAA when I lived in the Midwest since nothing ever happened to my tires or car.

But with the heat plays havoc on the cars and tires, you can expect some roadside breakdowns. I had sensors crap out on the weekend and had to tow my car to the mechanic. Just the other day my tire almost blew out on a busy expressway with little room on the side of the road. I use it for discounts on parking at the airport and staying at hotels since I do a fair amount of traveling. In addition, the parking garage let's you park at the airport for free up to 3 hours.  So it easily pays for itself.

randymarsh

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2013, 05:38:52 PM »
I should buy a AAA membership now, simply so they do continue fighting against the scam that is carbon taxation. (assuming I can verify they actually do that. It's a cheap way to contribute to stopping that train wreck.)

How is making people/businesses pay for the negative externalities of burning fossil fuels a scam? 

Lans Holman

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2013, 05:47:34 PM »
I've had AAA for a long time now and not really thought about it but this thread is making me think I at least need to question the assumption. 
I would also like to hear how a carbon tax is a scam.  I understand disagreeing with it, but as taxes go I think it's a pretty honest one.

Frankies Girl

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2013, 06:43:43 PM »
I say no to the AAA, and to also check with your car insurance to see if they offer roadside assistance coverage.


I have GEICO, and through them I have roadside assistance that covers at no extra cost: towing, lockout, battery jump, tire change, etc... all for about $15 a year. I used it quite a bit the last couple of years with my previous vehicle, and never experienced any issues, and it was more than worth it.

Mini-Mer

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2013, 10:01:00 PM »
For me, roadside assistance is worth paying for.  My city has good service, but bad point-to-point public transit.  Unless my car breaks down in a convenient spot (and usually it does not), I'm stuck. 

AAA has cost about $500 over ten years (a bit under $5/month).  I have probably subsidized an hour or two of lobbying time, and have used roadside assistance  three times.  The first time involved a punctured tire, busy elevated highway, and dying phone - not the right place or time for a hike to a gas station.  Having a safety net also helped with my decision to continue driving an older car. 

I have been planning to switch away from AAA at my next renewal, though, and the ideas about checking with insurance are useful!   (And do some credit cards advertise roadside assistance too now?) 

arebelspy

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2013, 10:12:51 PM »
MOD NOTE:
Please start a new thread if you want to discuss the merits of carbon credits, and keep this thread focused on the merits of an AAA membership itself.
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arebelspy

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2013, 10:15:09 PM »
My grandparents pay for AAA memberships for all of their kids and grandkids.

I probably wouldn't pay for it myself, but I have gotten a decent amount of use out of it, usually in quite embarrassing ways.

It probably hasn't quite paid for itself over the last 8 years or so in benefits (though maybe if I count some hotel discounts I've used it for), but it has paid back in saved hassle factor..

Again, I probably wouldn't pay for it cause I'm cheap when it comes to nonessentials, but there would definitely be times that I would regret it.
I am a former teacher who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and am now settled with three kids.
If you want to know more about me, this Business Insider profile tells the story pretty well.
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BlueMR2

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2013, 10:03:32 AM »
I just got to use mine a month ago.  :-)  A coolant hose I didn't even know existed burst (feeds coolant to the fast idle valve, and isn't mentioned in the part of the manual that talks about which hoses to replace on schedule...).  Spewed coolant all over the place right when I got to work.  I've limped cars a few miles before with coolant leaks, but this one was too big to make it all the way across town to the shop that has parts for this car.  Called up AAA and got 'er towed over there.

I recently upgraded my AAA to the Premier as well.  With an older car, it's nice to know that I can get long distance towing at a moments notice.  Not so much that I expect any more breakdowns than a new car (as other than this mystery hose I never knew about, I'm OC about maintaining them), but simply from the fact that parts are hard to get (and occasionally need to be fabricated).  I can't just limp it around the corner, or have it towed, to the *nearest* shop.  It really needs to come all the way back home or to the specialty shops that I deal with in town.  Even at those shops it can be down for a week or 2 while they come up with a way to fix it!

BigRed

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2013, 10:21:58 AM »
I'll revise my comments to be a bit less controversial and rephrase to say that AAA is very much a car-lobby, advocating for policies that serve the typical American car usage pattern.  That's a pattern that mustachians try not to adhere to, by biking, by living close to work, by using smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles, etc.  No matter what you do in that respect, policies that are designed to focus on supporting the average American car driver are not policies that are serving the mustachian's preferences.  Maybe you have other reasons for support some of those policies for other reasons, but a group specifically dedicated to supporting the lifestyle of the typical American car driver is probably not the most efficient way to go about supporting those policies.

Second, I think that the cost of roadside assistance from other sources as compared to AAA membership shows that AAA is not the most cost-effective way to acquire those services.   Getting it through your car insurance is typically much, much cheaper.  As to the discounts, there do seem to be a lot of things you can get AAA discounts for, but I haven't bought any of those things in memory.  I bet you can get the same price at hotels just by asking for the equivalent price, even without membership, though in other contexts like Amtrak, it may be harder without the actual membership.

Finally, mustachianism isn't just about a low-expenses lifestyle and FI or ER.  There are other components.  I'll leave it at that.

more4less

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #23 on: August 29, 2013, 09:54:48 PM »
It broke down once (ignition coil) - but was able to limp to the garage on 3 cylinders...so we weren't stranded there.
You know that driving with misfiring engine makes your $300 catalytic converter sad, right?

Personally I think it's quite mustachian.
1. Strangely enough, AAA gave me the best insurance rate compared to other companies (but i'm gonna check if it's still the case).
2. I drive cheap 15 year old car with 165k on it. That thing might actually break as it did once - clutch died. I wasn't forced to buy parts from the shop or take it to the nearest mechanic. Instead, I could bring it home, order good clutch kit online ($100 of instant savings), call AAA again, and tow my baby to the shop of my (3 days) choice. Having this membership gives me another reason not to change car for another few years.
3. One year I (with help of my family) used up all 4 service calls, most of years I do 2-3 calls.
4. If you are super cheap, and you have remaining service calls on your card, you always can cash in calls through fuel delivery. I have premier and it's 3 gallons of fuel which is ~$12 per call. :)
5. Occasional discounts - I save about $10-20 per year on hotels/motels during road trip.

PS: I absolutely don't see the point of getting more than one membership per family (or even all extended family around) since as it was mentioned above they provide service for any car near you.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2013, 10:00:02 PM by more4less »

Joel

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #24 on: August 29, 2013, 10:59:42 PM »
One thing to note is that you don't actually need a AAA membership for both people. You could potentially only have one membership, and then use that for both people. It would just take some coordination if the person without the card had an issue. But I find that tow truck drivers typically will work with you.

Needless to say, I have found that AAA is actually my best price for auto insurance.

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #25 on: August 30, 2013, 08:44:40 AM »
We've had AAA for most of our married life.  We've driven some beaters where were used our 4 visit allotment each year.  Other years when we've had newer cars we haven't used it at all.  I do always get a AAA discount on our auto insurance which quite often is equivalent to the cost of our membership.  I've also found that our cars break down at the worst possible times.  My husband was headed on his first day to a new job in a new city in December and his car wouldn't start.  Being able to call one number and have help within 20 minutes was a major stress relief in a very stressful situation.

If you are the sort who never locks their keys in their car or leaves the headlights (or interior lights) on and you are handy around cars you don't need it.  For the rest of us...it's insurance I'm willing to pay for

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #26 on: August 30, 2013, 09:32:33 AM »

Whether it's Mustachian or not, I don't know and hardly care. But I have had the Premium membership since 1986 and have found it extremely valuable. Because I prefer to drive older (read: cheap) cars, I have used it numerous times over the years. Several years, I have gotten more use out of it than I paid in. On those years I didn't, peace of mind more than made up for it, especially when it comes to my wife and children's driving. I very highly recommend it.

For what it is worth.


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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #27 on: October 30, 2015, 06:26:42 PM »

I vote no.

I've been towed 4 times in 33 years of driving (and 3 of them were the same broken down non-mustacian British car...  Had I not had that, we'd be at 1 time in 33 years.)

I've run out of gas once (unknown broken gauge on same broken down non-mustacian British car).

I've had to hike once when a spare tire was flat at about age 18 (and now I check the damn things every so often).

Usually you can find someone to jump start if you have your own cables... and if you drive a stick, you can just push  start it.

I just don't see much need for it.   Maybe if I had a 16 year old daughter that drove alone at night I'd have enough father fear to buy it.  But ... for me I can't see that it's worth it.

Wow, you're a jackass for saying that!

Okay... after over 35 years of driving with no apparent use for AAA, I joined.  And it turns out, the reasons are already stated in this thread:  I was evaluating home/car insurance and the costs of AAA vs my current insurer were actually comical.  No brainer.  I'll probably never use their primary services, but the $52 fee for cheaper insurance was actually worth it.   Oops.

tj

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #28 on: October 30, 2015, 08:01:35 PM »
My AAA membership is only $48 a year. Not sure why yours is so much more expensive. I value it as if my battery dies, I just call them and they come change it. i've had it happen twice in the past 5 years (old car and then on new car). The convenience is well worth it.

jengod

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #29 on: October 31, 2015, 10:55:50 PM »
Wow, it would never have independently occurred to me to cancel AAA, because I always viewed it as a utility of sorts, but I'm having some lightning bolts here.

So you're saying I can just call a tow truck and pay for battery service outright? And if I don't have AAA I won't get that damn Westways magazine and I can remove one more plastic card from my wallet? And if we needed a discount I could probably get a 10 percent discount with my Costco card or my Metro TAP card or my alumni card or just for asking? Hmmmm....

That said, back before cars became computers, they had these wonderful plastic keys that you could buy to get into your car in case of emergency and darn those were useful for our 1985 Dodge Aries, LOL.

EDIT:

We pay $73 a year right now ($48 main + $25 adult associate). I just removed the auto renewal for 2016. If we instead invest a $6 monthly payment for 30 years in a good growth-stock mutual fund averaging 10 percent, the $730 of AAA money will be worth $13,000 in 2045. :D
« Last Edit: October 31, 2015, 11:12:02 PM by jengod »

kite

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #30 on: October 31, 2015, 11:59:14 PM »
My old car insurance policy included roadside assistance, but the entire policy was insanely higher than what I could get through AAA.  My otherwise awesome 16 year old car chews through lifetime warranty batteries with startling regularity, so AAA's service in that regard has been marvelous.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2015, 06:49:28 AM by kite »

arebelspy

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #31 on: November 01, 2015, 02:19:37 AM »
Wow, it would never have independently occurred to me to cancel AAA, because I always viewed it as a utility of sorts, but I'm having some lightning bolts here.

So you're saying I can just call a tow truck and pay for battery service outright? And if I don't have AAA I won't get that damn Westways magazine and I can remove one more plastic card from my wallet? And if we needed a discount I could probably get a 10 percent discount with my Costco card or my Metro TAP card or my alumni card or just for asking? Hmmmm....

It might be time to go through your budget/spending and reconsider everything you spend money on and if it's actually necessary, and if you're getting any value out of it.  :)
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BlueMR2

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #32 on: November 01, 2015, 04:09:08 AM »
So you're saying I can just call a tow truck and pay for battery service outright?

Yep.  The advantage of AAA is having a number to call wherever you are, whenever you need it.  If you're just in your own town it's not a big deal.  It becomes a big deal when you're out of town, at odd hours, and are trying to get a list of local shops, but can't find one that's open...  :-)

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #33 on: November 01, 2015, 06:11:16 AM »
So you're saying I can just call a tow truck and pay for battery service outright?

Yep.  The advantage of AAA is having a number to call wherever you are, whenever you need it.  If you're just in your own town it's not a big deal.  It becomes a big deal when you're out of town, at odd hours, and are trying to get a list of local shops, but can't find one that's open...  :-)

It's often the case that AAA members will get priority in non-emergency service calls. *Source: getting surprisingly immediate towing and repair  service at 2AM, in a blizzard, on the night before Thanksgiving. That was in college on my parents plan.

We've never had AAA as a couple, because we don't travel long distances enough, but if you road trip a few times a year in older cars, it might be worth it.

Trifele

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #34 on: November 01, 2015, 06:50:57 AM »
Ok -- lurked for a while and then had to jump in. The AAA membership has totally been worth it for us.  We have rarely used the towing service or the lockout service, but the discounts we get on hotels and other items more than pay for the membership each year.  For us it's a no brainer.   

jengod

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #35 on: November 01, 2015, 06:57:20 AM »

Wow, it would never have independently occurred to me to cancel AAA, because I always viewed it as a utility of sorts, but I'm having some lightning bolts here.

So you're saying I can just call a tow truck and pay for battery service outright? And if I don't have AAA I won't get that damn Westways magazine and I can remove one more plastic card from my wallet? And if we needed a discount I could probably get a 10 percent discount with my Costco card or my Metro TAP card or my alumni card or just for asking? Hmmmm....

It might be time to go through your budget/spending and reconsider everything you spend money on and if it's actually necessary, and if you're getting any value out of it.  :)

On a related note, Costco membership is probably on the chopping block as well. Now that we are out of diapers the main draw is gone, plus our shopping style has changed so much after reading Zero-Waste Home.


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GuitarStv

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #36 on: November 01, 2015, 08:10:06 AM »
AAA has a history of lobbying against transit and pedestrian and bicycle programs.  I wouldn't spend my money to support this.

Le Poisson

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #37 on: November 01, 2015, 08:24:47 AM »
We have one membership shared between my wife and I.

This immediately cuts the bill in half. We only renew if they offer a deal, which means we usually only have it for about 10 months a year. Whoever gets a deal in the mail to renew gets the membership in their name. This often means we alternate between cardholders.

CAA covers the cardholder, not the vehicle, so if I lock myself out or the car won't start, I call Momma for the card number, and for her to come to me. She then comes using whatever mode is available, and is on hand when the towtruck arrives. Having older cars, we feel like the coverage is worthwhile but since all our long distance trips are done as a family, we don't both need coverage.

We really only ever use their lockout and tow service. I can change a flat faster than they can get to us, and for a boost, I can flag someone down before they can reach us. The service is notoriously slow, especially on bad weather days.

Last time Momma traveled any real distance without me, she got a flat on the laneway to her family's cottage, a good 500m off the road. I was impressed that she was able to change out the tire in the mud with no assistance and no cell reception. Apparently the owners manual had all the steps laid out for her and with a little common sense she managed fine. CAA would have been no use since she was too far off the road, and the van wouldn't move (stuck in  mud at teh bottom of a hill).

Often we will go years without needing the service, but when we do, the years missed are immediately reimbursed by the savings and convenience. FWIW, our annual membership costs about $55.00, and if we do a long haul trip with our pop-up trailer we add on RV coverage, prorated to the end of the year, which added $20.00 last year.

Things of note if you aren't a "car person" check that your car has a spare tire, that its inflated, and that the jack, lug wrench, etc. are all there. Even if you have CAA, those things should be in your car. Stuff a set of jumper cables into the car someplace. Know how to use them. Be ready to offer hand if you see someone else stranded. Even if all you can offer is the tools for them to do the work, it may be a big difference, and this is a culture that has rapidly been eroded by call services and cell phone 'independence/interdependence".

People who say they don't need CAA have obviously never stood on the side of the highway with a flat spare and no cell reception at 3:00 AM watching the world zoom past while they try to flag down help.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2015, 08:34:53 AM by Prospector »

choppingwood

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #38 on: November 01, 2015, 09:35:35 AM »
I use AAA about 3 times a year for my cars. I find that living out West there are a lot of isolated roadways when traveling from Arizona to Las Vegas and plenty of nails on the road. I never would have thought of AAA when I lived in the Midwest since nothing ever happened to my tires or car.

But with the heat plays havoc on the cars and tires, you can expect some roadside breakdowns. I had sensors crap out on the weekend and had to tow my car to the mechanic. Just the other day my tire almost blew out on a busy expressway with little room on the side of the road. I use it for discounts on parking at the airport and staying at hotels since I do a fair amount of traveling. In addition, the parking garage let's you park at the airport for free up to 3 hours.  So it easily pays for itself.

+1

I have CAA, the Canadian version, which is good for AAA service in the US. It easily pays for itself every year that I've had it.

Zamboni

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #39 on: November 01, 2015, 10:08:50 AM »
I have AAA, and every time I let it expire I end up renewing it to get the hotel discount when I travel to see my brother (it's pretty much the only discount that hotel has and they do always ask to see the card.) So I end up technically ahead in an unmustachian "spend to save" kind of way just based upon that.

Just in the last couple of years I've called them for jump starts, battery replacement, tire changes, and when a friend locked her keys in her car. They've always been very prompt and polite. Yes, I can call other services for these things, or I have tried to get strangers to help me when I need something like a jump start, and I've thought about switching to the GEICO plan.

Older vehicles are just going to decide to not start in inconvenient locations sometimes. In the past, before I had AAA, when I've needed help in locations strange to me, I've sometimes had trouble finding any place that was actually open or could come out in a reasonable amount of time.

I used to carry jumper cables, but having a dead battery & wandering around a parking lot asking for help in the extreme heat or pouring down rain in the dark is just not a good time, and after a couple of these incidents I decided AAA (or a similar service) is just worth the money. Now I just find a safe and comfortable place to wait, call their number, and they send someone to me within a short amount of time and get me right back on the road.

YK-Phil

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #40 on: November 01, 2015, 10:11:35 AM »
I have issues with CAA/AAA as a car lobby group but I have been a member for years, mainly because we used to take several road trips per year on a 1600 km stretch of road between Yellowknife and Edmonton and Vancouver , and we got stranded a few times with car problems in the middle of nowhere and in the middle of the night. Once, my transmission blew at 1am between High Level and Peace River, with four kids in the van. After walking a mile to get cell reception, I got hold of CAA who dispatched a tow truck from Peace River, a hundred miles South, to take the van and our family to the nearest garage back in Peace River. The towing alone, in those parts of Northern Alberta, would have been several hundred dollars. We had similar incidents over the years that paid more than the cost of annual membership. Significant discounts on car, home and business insurance, hotels and other services, more than made up for the cost of membership during years without using the road assistance service.

This being said, my situation has changed (no CAA insurance, rare car usage replaced by frequent bicycle use) and this discussion has made me rethink my membership and I will likely cancel it and look for other alternatives.

Spork

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #41 on: November 01, 2015, 10:12:50 AM »
So you're saying I can just call a tow truck and pay for battery service outright?

Yep.  The advantage of AAA is having a number to call wherever you are, whenever you need it.  If you're just in your own town it's not a big deal.  It becomes a big deal when you're out of town, at odd hours, and are trying to get a list of local shops, but can't find one that's open...  :-)

The other hidden advantage: Seriously deep discounts on home/auto/umbrella insurance.  I cut my auto in half while greatly increasing my coverage. 

Trifele

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #42 on: November 01, 2015, 05:30:33 PM »
@GuitarStv

"AAA has a history of lobbying against transit and pedestrian and bicycle programs.  I wouldn't spend my money to support this."

Thanks for letting me know about this. I will investigate.  I do vote with my dollars, and this would be a reason I would drop the AAA membership, even if it was financially worthwhile. 

BlueMR2

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #43 on: November 02, 2015, 02:47:59 AM »
AAA has a history of lobbying against transit and pedestrian and bicycle programs.  I wouldn't spend my money to support this.

That is the biggest negative.  I'm definitely not a fan of their lobbying efforts.  True for many organizations.  Sometimes the good outweighs the bad, sometimes it does not.  I'm a member despite that.  I can totally see that being the thing that keeps one from joining though.

kimmarg

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #44 on: November 02, 2015, 12:03:07 PM »
Couple things not commonly known/advertised.

1. You do not need to be an AAA member already when you call them. Join and get a tow in one call. I've joined a few times....while stranded on the side of the road.

2. The towing limit for the cheaper membership is 10(?) miles OR the closest spot. They make it sound like you need the premium membership if you're going to be far out in the boondocks needing a long tow but that's not the case. (Would only matter if you care where you are towed to) I've been towed 50 miles on basic.

I don't maintain my membership but  I'll be rejoining the second I need them. Even if I was in a location where I could get a tow for less than the membership the no hassle is worth it to me as I find being stranded very stressful.

« Last Edit: November 02, 2015, 12:05:15 PM by kimmarg »

Thegoblinchief

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #45 on: November 02, 2015, 02:04:12 PM »
Kimmarg - they'll tow longer than the short mileage, sure, it just won't be paid for. I was charged for miles past the free 5 miles when towed to a farther shop.

kimmarg

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #46 on: November 02, 2015, 06:04:58 PM »
When towed to a farther shop.
That's the key phrase. There was a closer shop so you got charged. If all that's closer is sagebrush they keep towing for free...at least that was my experience.

Daisy

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #47 on: November 03, 2015, 09:13:17 AM »
Couple things not commonly known/advertised.

1. You do not need to be an AAA member already when you call them. Join and get a tow in one call. I've joined a few times....while stranded on the side of the road.

2. The towing limit for the cheaper membership is 10(?) miles OR the closest spot. They make it sound like you need the premium membership if you're going to be far out in the boondocks needing a long tow but that's not the case. (Would only matter if you care where you are towed to) I've been towed 50 miles on basic.

I don't maintain my membership but  I'll be rejoining the second I need them. Even if I was in a location where I could get a tow for less than the membership the no hassle is worth it to me as I find being stranded very stressful.

Good idea. Join when you need it. I didn't know about the instant-join option.

I just used Uber for the first time in town. I live in a big city. I used it to avoid paying for parking downtown. Took the bus to downtown, took Uber home late at night. It worked well. I can see using Uber in town if my car is stranded at night and I just want to get home fast. I can leave the car where it is then use a family or friend's car to get back to the car and take care of it at a safe time.

I also have those run-flat tires that you can drive 50 miles on after they are flat. More expensive tires, but gives me peace of mind I won't be stranded with a flat tire.

I'd probably join AAA if I was about to go on a long road trip.

Le Poisson

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #48 on: November 03, 2015, 09:16:30 AM »
Couple things not commonly known/advertised.

1. You do not need to be an AAA member already when you call them. Join and get a tow in one call. I've joined a few times....while stranded on the side of the road.

2. The towing limit for the cheaper membership is 10(?) miles OR the closest spot. They make it sound like you need the premium membership if you're going to be far out in the boondocks needing a long tow but that's not the case. (Would only matter if you care where you are towed to) I've been towed 50 miles on basic.

I don't maintain my membership but  I'll be rejoining the second I need them. Even if I was in a location where I could get a tow for less than the membership the no hassle is worth it to me as I find being stranded very stressful.

Good idea. Join when you need it. I didn't know about the instant-join option.

I just used Uber for the first time in town. I live in a big city. I used it to avoid paying for parking downtown. Took the bus to downtown, took Uber home late at night. It worked well. I can see using Uber in town if my car is stranded at night and I just want to get home fast. I can leave the car where it is then use a family or friend's car to get back to the car and take care of it at a safe time.

I also have those run-flat tires that you can drive 50 miles on after they are flat. More expensive tires, but gives me peace of mind I won't be stranded with a flat tire.

I'd probably join AAA if I was about to go on a long road trip.

The downside of the insta-join option is that you get the highest possible cost for teh membership you take out - no discounts. Having said that, I carry my expired card with me until the renewal deals arrive. If I'm really stuck, then yeah, that expensive membership may be my best bet, and having a member number and phone number is handy. OTOH, if I can wait out the retention program and get a cheaper renewal, I'll go ahead and get it when the right deal shows up.

Little Nell

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Re: AAA/CAA, Mustachian or not?
« Reply #49 on: November 03, 2015, 09:15:03 PM »
 Maps. Beautiful printed paper maps. Unlimited. US, State, World. Wear them out traveling then use them as wrapping paper. When the paper maps go, so do I.

I also saved hundreds of dollars by shifting over our insurance: cars, house, umbrella, to firm offered by our AAA agent.