AAA Basic Only Tows 5 Miles?

It seems that my car troubles aren’t over yet. So the only financial thing I learned today was that AAA Basic only pays for the first 5 miles of towing. After that, it’s $6 a mile. What’s up with that? I won’t complain though, as a family member had AAA and not me and I think I still saved some money using the service.

I don’t buy AAA because my general philosophy on insurance is that you should only buy insurance for financial hits you can’t weather. I can handle paying for an occasional tow – or I can ask if others have AAA ๐Ÿ˜‰


  1. I’ll admit that I am a member even though I laugh (not really) at my buddies when they buy extended warranties for their toys (drop coverage for a video cameras, come on guys!).

    I drive old vehicles because of my phobia of car payments and have scheduled breakdowns. 2-3 times a year something happens. The last time was 3 weeks ago with a fuel pump. The tow cost $65 and then it hit me that the AAA coverage was not really necessary. 5 miles in the Great State of Tennessee will barely get you to the next house (rural areas), much less a garage so I am guaranteed to pay some of the tow. If I can’t afford a few $65 tows then maybe I am doing something wrong.


  2. You can get 100 miles of tow if you pay $100/year for the premium plan. Just stating the facts.

    • AAA will only sell you the PLUS Membership with the 100-mile tow coverage after you have been a Basic member for two years. I know, because I just got off the phone with AAA. Just stating the facts.

      • ICampBetterThanYou says:

        Wrong, Smitty. I just signed up for Premier Membership (200 miles plus three 100 mile tows) about a month and a half ago. I never had AAA before.

      • AAA will sell anyone the plus level member no matter how long they have (or haven’t) been a member. I know, beacuse I used to work there (this year). Just stating the facts ๐Ÿ™‚

      • jimmie roan says:

        maybe it varies from state to state, you can buy any level in texas, i won’t renew this year because they changed their coverage in the middle of membership year, i bought premier for myself and wife, that gave us at the time, 4 tows each with one each of 200 miles and the others at 100 miles, and the tows were separate from the service calls, recently they decided to change service calls to include all calls, so if you have a tire changed you are charged off one tow, and now it reads that even though you have two memberships you only get four service calls per household, even if you pay for the extra membership. and be ready when you try to get it clarified or in writing, sounds worse than any politician i ever heard talk. i think members of the texas triple a should institute a class action suit to have their benefits reinstated.

      • False. AAA will sell you the plan no matter what if you are a willing, paying customer. I work there, facts.

  3. Frozen Calzone says:

    Yeah the premium plan gets you 100 miles, but in the last 10 years I have not towed my car twice in a year. So I would be paying more to have the service is the avg. tow cost me around $70. What else does AAA membership give you?

    • I use my premier tow plan every year to the max. Worth every penny to me. Your experience may differ with your needs vs others’ needs

  4. Roadside assistance is an optional addition to my auto insurance through State Farm. I think it is less than $15 a year so my mother insists I get it. Getting reimbursed for towing doesn’t count as a claim and won’t cause insurance rates to go up. I haven’t needed it yet, but I drive an older car with over 100,000 miles.

  5. American Express Business Gold card has towing including in menbership,but costs $75 per year.

  6. You could add a rider to your car insurance for towing. Depending on how much it is and how old your car is, that might be a good alternative.

    I’ve been thinking about AAA because my wife and three kids drive back and forth to our parents home quite often. It’s a 6 hour drive one way through some sparely inhabited land and there are several places where there’s zero cell coverage.

  7. I’m actually rather fond of the AAA brokerage services, so our insurance rates are cheaper through them, even with the membership. But I’ve been keeping track over the last year and it turns out that I’ve definitely saved more with the card (hotels, passport photos, etc.) than it cost for the membership. This does not even include the savings for when I leave my lights on (an unfortunate yearly experience) or have my car break down (I live in a city, so even my garage is usually within 5 miles). Or when a friend locks their keys in the car and I can have AAA come out and unlock it (often earning me lunch or a drink ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

    I agree that paying for insurance on things you can afford to weather isn’t worth it, but AAA does have some nifty benefits beyond just the obvious.

  8. I have AAA and I live in MA. I got it b/c I saved money on my auto insurance that more than covered the cost of the membership. I pay $79/yr for the Premium. Last year, I was driving to Montreal, through Vertmont, alternator went in my BMW. Closest town was 40+ miles away. AAA picked up my car and it cost me nothing for that tow. Plus, they reimbursed me for the rental car I had to rent and it saved my vacation.

  9. Just got an advertisement from them to renew – $50 dollars FOR THE YEAR! Yeah I can stand the tow, but why take that chance? for the $4.16/mo I’ll take the peace of mind

  10. I have needed AAA assistance about a dozen times in a dozen years, as we have driven used cars, and occasionally need a boost, or there is a pinhole leak in a hose and I need a tow, or when my transmission went out and we were 80 miles from anywhere… The $100/year I have paid for the premium has paid its worth many times over, and I would recommend it for people whose cars have higher mileages on them.

  11. I too can afford to pay for the towing and other services, but I like being able to call them no matter what the problem is or where my car and I are and know that someone will be coming out soon. I wouldn’t know who to call in those situations if it wasn’t for AAA.

  12. I’m with Chief Family Officer. I could easily cover the cost to tow it across the state but I like the peace of mind. I usually cut the cost of the yearly service by asking for discounts with the card during the year. I just about break even and then get free towing. I have AAA plus which gets rid of the 5 mile limit. It came in very handy a month or so ago when my wife’s car died. Now that we have made the commitment to drive older cars, it just makes sense for us to have AAA. Of course, your mileage may vary…….

  13. Ya, I had to get my car towed and fortunately, AAA doesn’t seem to care whose membership I use (I’ve used my sister’s AAA card 3 times this yr already…at least someone’s getting use out of it).

    But $6/mile isn’t bad. It’s probably the cheapest deal in town. It would have cost me $90 if I used a local tow truck. Plus they tow it to one of their member service garages that seem to have competitive rates and they give you an extra 5% off. And if the AAA service guy comes (not just the tow truck), he can give you some possible reasons why your car died.

  14. tom688sub says:

    I’m in the military and it eases my mind knowing my wife has to make one call in case of any problem. Best unknown deal with AAA is that the mile restriction is waived if you are towed to a AAA Car Care Center. There are two locations in the Hampton Roads area so this works out great and they have been very good to me with service and pricing.

  15. I renew my AAA subscription each year because I save $100s per year in reduced hotel costs, travel on Amtrak, discounts at places like Payless Shoes, etc. These discounts easily pay for the membership costs many times over, each year.

  16. I’ve cancelled my AAA membership a couple times in the past based on the same thought process, but I always go back when I find out that there are discounts with membership that more than cover the cost of the yearly membership. So it’s kind of like getting the coverage for free.

  17. I love AAA. I’ve seen secretaries stranded at work at night with a tire that needs changing and there’s no one left at the office to help. I had a blowout 75 miles from any city, they also boost your battery if the lights were left on accidentially and they do come within an hour.

    The card follows the person so if you riding with someone who has a flat tire (there are no service stations to fix your tire) the card still works.

    I take the middle price to get the extra tow distance because I travel by myself. Give up a Starbucks but have a AAA card.

  18. My two cents:
    When I used to live in between DC and Baltimore, it was common upon calling AAA to be told it would be 90 minutes – 2 hours before they could get you a tow truck. At rush hour, it would be more like 2.5 hours. The first time I called a tow truck company directly after I wasn’t on my parents plan any more, I was amazed because it only took them 30 minutes to come pick me up. Having an older two cars, this pattern was demonstrated to me about 4 more times while I lived there. Apparently tow truck drivers and dispatchers give preference to direct calls in that area.

  19. I cancelled AAA after realizing how much I had spent over the past five years with no benefits (other than discounts a couple times, which could have been obtained elsewhere), plus the realization that it could not possibly be worth having since I do have some roadside coverage through regular USAA insurance, and even if I needed a tow, the AAA coverage was only 5 miles as others had mentioned.

    The chance of paying for a tow hardly the end of the world, and it is a trivial cost when compared to the other costs of operating a car. I would rather pay for “insurance” on my home where a fire/theft/etc there could actually have an impact on my life.

  20. I also pay each year for AAA premium. I agree with only getting insurance for events that you can’t weather occasionally on your own. However, there are some pretty good perks for AAA members if you take the time to research them. You can get some serious discounts if you take the time.
    AAA is also nice because it covers any car that you are in. Even if it is a friends car.

  21. I live in the Phoenix area where there are gas stations and auto-service stations every few miles. I have AAA because in the summer heat, dead batteries and flat tires are very common. I have used the service most often to get locked keys out of my car. Once they even came to a camp-site after my son locked the keys in our trunk. I think I pay $36/year. I use the discounts on Sea World tickets about once a year as well as hotel stays and I more than make up the cost of membership.

  22. I don’t have AAA anymore because they lobby for keeping cars on the road. I switched to GEICO, paying the same premium but more coverage, and this includes their emergency roadside assistance for $8.

  23. I am and will always be a member. It is a rather nominal yearly fee for a service that comes in extremely handy when you really need it.

    As someone whose newest car ever was 4 years old, I have had several opportunities to use the insurance.

  24. Towing thru insurance will possibly raise the insurance premium down the road!!!

    Besides road assistance, AAA also offers good hotel rates, discounts for theme parks and, especially, 10% off

  25. I have had AAA over the last 5 years. I have them more for peace of mind. You can call them from anything to flat tire, towing, battery problems, being locked out etc. I also have the plus membership which includes 100 miles of towing.

    Also if you live in Florida/Georgia, AAA has great prices on theme park tickets. If you visit theme parks often the discounts will pretty much cover the cost of you memberships.

    I also have my car insurance through them, and I have found them cheaper that geico, all state and the others in my area.

    Other benefits of AAA that I have used in the past
    – Car insurance
    – Free maps guide books
    – Cheaper passport size photos
    – Free travellers checks
    – Peace of mind (you can call them any place in the USA even if it isnt you car, you just need to be with the car)

  26. I’m a member mostly because my parents still let me be attached to their plan.

    One trick I’ve heard of is NOT renewing, but then if you have an emergency, have the AAA number ready, join, then get the service you need. ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. AAA is well worth the price for women who drive alone at night. And I especially recommend it for teenage drivers. It’s peace of mind. It’s not just about the towing. If you get a flat tire, they come and change it. If you can’t start your car in the morning, they’ll come charge your battery. If you accidentally lock the keys in the car or trunk, they will open the car for you. I have been a member since I turned 16 and got my driver’s license and have used them many times over the years. As several people have pointed out, you also get hotel and other discounts. Their insurance prices are good, they will map out trips for you, and renew your auto registration. I am a huge fan!

  28. I use GM Motor club card that offers towing without any mileage restrictions. See for details.

  29. We have had triple A for 17 years — way back when the kids were driving 200 miles to college and back. The hundred mile tow got them either home or back to the college town. It saved us a ton of money in towing and I have been loyal since. They do also have a lot of other perks besides the towing — for example their trip-tiks are great and their discounts come in handy for hotel stays. Would not be without and consider the $125.00 a year for my husband and myself a steal.

  30. Let’s just say that with an old car, I’ve used AAA so often that it more than covered the cost of it. I just got a newer (still used) car, and I’m still keeping AAA. When something happens, I like knowing I can call someone who is reliable and who won’t fleece me. As a young-ish woman, I’ve needed a jump or tow at odd times in urban areas, and I’d rather call a company I trust.

  31. AAA certainly saves me money with my early 90’s cars that are starting to break down more often. Even though I can easily handle the cost of towing, I generally call AAA at least once a year and that one call easily pays itself off. It’s also nice because it covers a person, not a car. I was with a buddy the other day and his car broke down. Was pretty convenient to just give AAA ring and get him and myself home.

  32. Just paid the $50.00 renewal for the Plus plan. Had to be towed out of my driveway three days later. The tow was further than five miles, so this has already paid for itself. AAA has saved me many times throughout the years. They will also jump your battery or you can even buy one from them, if you are really desperate. Also, the discounts can save you money at places that you frequent.

    If you have a roadside deal through your insurance or through your car being purchased etc., then it may not be such a good deal. However, for older cars, this insurance and peace of mind is totally worth it.

  33. The nice thing about AAA is the extra assurance against damages and mistreatment. I made a mistake of mentioning the poor job the contractor did in taking my car off the truck after an accident, and my insurance company decided to separate them into two separate claims which conveniently hit below my deductible. They refused to go after the tow company.

    While I’m still attempting to fight that decision, I appreciate the fact that I have AAA to back up the quality of the tow. If you think that you’re going to have an easy time getting the Tow company to pay for damages, do a quick Google search. They are universally reviled for their lack of customer service and reasonable price structures.

  34. Grad Student says:

    As an alternative to AAA, some might want to look into Better World Club. I don’t have either, but it’s supposed to off the same road side assistance with some ‘environmental’ advocacy thrown in. Here is a comparison between BWC and AAA

  35. I live in the city so a 5 mile tow would meet my needs most of the time. I love being able to call them on a cold rainy night while I am in work clothes to change my tire on the side of the freeway. Definitely worth the money!

  36. We have had AAA for years and LOVE IT!! We have used it several times for ourselves and for friends for towing, gas delivery, or lock-out service. We always save more than the cost of AAA each year. Last year we paid $75 for our AAA membership (for 2 people). We went straight to Lenscrafters and bought my husband a new pair of glasses and saved $90. (AAA members save 30% at Lenscrafters). We also saved 10% on all the Christmas gifts we bought at Circuit City with AAA. And of course there are all the discounts on travel and at amusements parts and museums. We have also used the AAA Prescription Plan, as often times it is cheaper than using our health insurance. AAA definitley has my vote!

  37. Yep, I found out the 5 free mile limit the hard way but it is still cost effective for me to have the membership. There is also a limit of 3 tows a year (I think), after that you have to pay. I used up all 3 tows one year because I have an old car, that’s why I have AAA. Like others have mentioned, it also saves money on hotel, theme parks, etc. Overall, it’s still worth the price of admission. If I buy a new car, I will drop it.

  38. My wife and i are both AAA members. In the 15 years i’ve been driving, i’ve probably used the service almost that number of times — that includes locking my keys in the car a number of times while in college. They even gave me a plastic “wallet key” that i managed to lock in my car once too — a plastic key shaped like your own key that can be used to unlock your car door when your keys are locked in. For the piece of mind it offers, i have no problem paying the AAA member fee each year.

    Jonathan, i’d be curious to hear what your wife thinks about it. I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets it when you have your first child.

  39. That’s why I have the AAA Plus membership which has a much higher tow limit. It has more than paid for itself every year since I’ve had it. I do a lot of driving, for both work and for trips, so I expose myself to greater odds of things happening to my car. I’ve had a battery die unexpectedly, I had my car die 30 miles from the city, and I used my membership to tow a friend’s car 20 miles from the city.

    Alex Lee

  40. I have triple AAA and probably have not broken even in a financial sense. However, I did have a spate of lockouts with the keys in the car and a dead battery. AAA made what could have otherwise been miserable experiences into a 15 minute wait and a car picking tutorial – let’s just say that with the right tools, any car can be opened in under a minute.
    Many things can go wrong with your car, towing just being one aspect of it. I feel the $54 (or 15c a day) I spent has paid for itself in saved aggravation.
    My time is worth more than a few bucks.

  41. For those advocating just adding towing coverage to your existing car insurance, be careful.

    Many insurers will count a tow as a claim and it will affect your renewal rates the same as if you were in an at fault accident.

    A stand alone service like AAA is the best way to go.

  42. I have AAA insurance and emergency road side service. The 5 mile limit is only if you want your car towed anywhere other than a AAA certified auto shop. If you do want your car towed to a AAA certified shop (usually it will be the same shop the tow truck came from) then it doesn’t matter if its 5 miles away or 75 miles away, it’s free. It’s an incentive for shops to want to do business with AAA and in turn, AAA has certain standards for service that the shops need to live up to. You have to read the fine print that comes with your AAA Emergency Roadside Service.

  43. I used to work for AAA – there is no reason to pay for it up front until you need it. When I worked there a few years ago, you could have a breakdown and call in and sign up on the spot for coverage, including the premium service. So, just keep the toll free number for AAA in your car and you won’t have to waste money paying for it if you don’t need it!

  44. Sounds like a lot of happy customers! In my entire life, I’ve been locked out once, and I’ve now needed a tow once (knock on wood). Both times I have been with other people with AAA coverage :D. So I’m glad for the happy customers, but that’s over 13 years of driving so I’m still not sold for myself.

    At $50 a year, it won’t break the bank, and I think most people end up getting a some benefit so the net cost is probably small. But it’s still just another form of minor insurance. I suppose if you had an old car, drove 20k miles a year, spend a lot of time on the road, or are otherwise a statistical outlier, it might be worth it.

    Yes, car insurance towing coverage often reports to ChoicePoint and other insurance databases, which may raise your rates later on down the road. I’m not sure if it counts as a claim, but it is recorded.

    Or you could just keep 1-800-AAA-HELP in your car and sign up for the Premium service when you need it, as Shawna suggests ๐Ÿ™‚

  45. Prior to the spate of the 3 lockouts I went through I had never been locked out either. I’ve been clean now for a couple years…
    Interestingly, you’ve always had a AAA member nearby when you needed it. Your memory of the events would have been quite different had they not been around.
    It’s a case of classic perception bias. When things go smoothly (in almost anything, not just car trouble) people don’t necessarily appreciate or realize the reasons for the smooth sailing. When things are rougher (and you burn up a day to get your car serviced) people are much more likely to assess what went wrong, why and how problems can be mitigated next time.

  46. Trevor Nelson says:

    I’ve had AAA for almost 25 years now. I was signed up by my Mom when I first got my license and have been a member ever since.
    In that time I’ve called for tows, dead batteries, locked keys, and 4 blown tires. The last one was at 10 at night on the LA freeway with the whole family in the car. The be able to call and have someone show up and change the tire safely and quickly is well worth it. The $65/year I spend for my family is more than made up in peace of mind. Knowing my daughters only have to make a call is priceless. The tows for me have been the least of the convenience.
    You can look at it as insurance, but it’s more than that. And as with all insurance, you gripe about it – until you need it.

  47. I don’t know, it’s not that hard to call a locksmith or tow company directly. If you’re really worried, you could just call the police or highway patrol for assistance.

    On a lighter note, it is amazing how easy it is to unlock a car, huh?

  48. Opening cars is incredibly easy with the right ~$30 tools.

  49. My AAA membership just ran out back in November. My parents had always bought it for me when I would drive 2 hours to and from school. I thought about renewing but to me we would really only need it if going on a vacation or long car trip and got stranded.

    I can see why some people do purchase it though especially if your car is unreliable.

  50. AAA is not just about towing. You get good discounts for air tickets, car rental, entrance fees to attractions. Also, notarization is free with a premier membership.

  51. I used AAA roadside service this past summer when I had a flat tire. I’m perfectly capable of changing a tire; that wasn’t the issue. The issue is that I was on the side of a freeway, on a shoulder roughly one foot wider than my car, with no way to get further off the road, with semis blazing past at 85mph. There was no way I could change that tire without getting killed. Worth it to just make a phone call and have someone else take care of it for me? Yeah, definitely.

  52. Call me a skeptic, but it seems like about 20 of the last 30 posts seem to be touching on AAA ‘talking points.” I read this blog religiously, and have never noticed this kind of rapid response, where 80% of the posts are so similar in viewpoint, stories told, reasons for buying, etc.

    Either AAA really has a passionate following of like-minded people, or perhaps a very pro-active marketing department … ?

  53. Man, there are so many comments that I don’t have time to read them all! I’ll just say that I have AAA with the 100 mile towing. The discounts I get on motels and other benefits have made it worth it. Plus, I had a flat tire and they were there in 10 minutes to change it. It also covers other drivers you are riding with, so when my daughter’s car broke down, I flashed the card and we were good to go. Having used towing services in years past without AAA, I’m a believer.

  54. part of saving well is to be able to handle life’s curveballs. why dont you dump that s**theap that you call a car and get something new/used to replace it.

  55. AAA is the best!!! I’ve used them numerous times. I don’t know what I would do without them. I was in the middle of the desert and got a flat due to heat damage. It did take 1 hour since I was in the middle of nowhere. Who else can you call at 3 am in the morning to get a tow home that is 50 miles away when your car breaks down in the rain. It is well worth every penny knowing that you can call someone on the phone who is willing to help you ASAP with no excuses not to come. They are like your Automobile Guardian Angels. Premier member for over 25 years (36 years total).

  56. AAA has great rates on insurance. I got both my car and renter’s insurance through them. Best car insurance rates I found.

    Anyway, AAA is a service, not an insurance. Good thing you ride with people that had the foresight to get it.

  57. I know! I was stranded in a friend’s car in San Antonio and was happy to have my AAA card on me. What ACTUALLY happened was that AAA sent a guy, and when he got there the driver told us we had 5 miles and then we had to pay the driver CASH UPFRONT. Now when you’re stranded on the side of a highway you likely don’t have serious $$$ on hand so between the 4 of us we were able to pool. I was very unimpressed and will probably not use them again. My mom was the one who got me that original memebership, so I don’t know how much she paid – but I don’t know why somebody would ever buy the plan I have.

  58. I absolutely love AAA. I live in a pretty busy area, and they guarantee someone within an hour. My experience is that it is usually less, like a 1/2 hour. And I don’t have to have the number of the local tow people handy (which you usually don’t when you are stuck). They have changed my tire for me, more than once, which is something I’m sure isn’t too hard but isn’t my strong suit either. They send out people in cold weather and they keep you informed of when they’ll be there. They’ve given me (and my family) numerous jump starts too.

    My most vivid memory of them was when my husband and I had a blow out in an HOV lane and we had to pull over to the left shoulder. I was actually terrified and called AAA and explained where we were. My husband had tried to change the tire — but it was frozen on (the tires should have been rotated, they were completely glued on). Well, maybe because I sounded so scared, but they sent someone there in less than 12 minutes (I remember I was looking at the clock) and that guy took a crow bar and changed the tire on the spot.

    Well, suffice to say, I’ll always be a member. And, of course, you have to keep in mind all of the multitude of discounts on hotels, rental cars — I think AAA is the biggest bargain on the planet. Towing is just one part of it — definitely not the major reason I belong.

  59. Hey someone mentioned gmmotor club looks pretty good deal to me for $59.. any experience with service quality.?

  60. Which ever company you choose, if your car is in relatively good shape, the basic road side coverage should be fine.

    I went though a spell where I hit every pot hole and nail in the road for months. I was so glad they could repair my tire on the spot!! And I know plenty of people who leave lights on/lock keys in the car/run out of gas on a regular basis. The $44 for AAA basic is totally worth it! It is more about being rescued (or knowing that you can be) than anything else.

    However, I do agree that if your car is in good shape and you have a little savings, paying for the extra towing might not be worth it.

  61. AAA Gold (which is a little more expensive than basic, I believe around $75 for one or $110 or so for two) tows you up to 100 miles for free. That and : change tires, jump start, get you out of the ditch, bring you gasoline (without charging!), pay for your expenses if you get stranded (hotel etc.) and even reimburse you legal fees if you manage to bring demerit points for violation to 0. I say it’s a decent deal for someone who is travelling a lot or far.

  62. At the risk of annoying many happy customers, I must offer a dissenting voice here. There’s a whopping big gotcha related to AAA’s “Premium” plan that they hide in the fine-print, and it’s this:

    The plan’s benefits don’t actually *start* until you’ve been a member for 7 days. That’s important if you aren’t a member, and want to sign up right before a big event, like a cross-country move.

    The basic plan not only tows you a remarkably short distance (5 miles), but it also won’t pay to tow anything *you’re* pulling with your vehicle. I learned this the hard way during a move — I’d paid AAA $100+ for the Premium membership, then headed out the next day to move, towing a small trailer. Sure enough, despite recent repairs to the vehicle and a once-over by another mechanic, I found myself on the phone with AAA the first night of my trip.

    They told me I couldn’t get towed anywhere with the trailer attached (that makes sense by itself), but that they also wouldn’t pay to have the trailer towed (I’d have to remove the *rented* trailer from my vehicle, right where it broke down, and leave it right there, and hope nobody else had it towed (or broke into it, etc.), then come back once the truck was repaired).

    The phone agent also didn’t seem to have any information available to help me find a hotel for the night, or a mechanic to take the truck to in the morning. In short, they didn’t help me. I canceled once I got where I was headed, and mentioned it to my folks. They canceled, too, since they had made the recommendation in the first place and weren’t thrilled with how AAA handled it. Amusingly, AAA (the club where I registered before I moved, not in the state where I ended up) actually called me a day or so later to *scold* me for convincing my folks to cancel.

    Sure, I’m just one data point, but this wasn’t exactly a “win” for the motor club. They’re not a bargain when they won’t help solve a real on-the-road problem, and it doesn’t help that they don’t disclose the “7 day waiting period” when you sign up. It’s worth noting that I explained *exactly* what I was doing, what I was towing, and where I was going when I signed up. The agent that collected my credit card information and welcomed me as a member said none of it would be a problem, and I’d be covered no matter what. Whoops.

  63. I would add the discounts that AAA gives

    1) At circuitcity I have saved 250$ in 07 with the 10% off coupon from AAA
    2) On Penske truck rental AAA again saved me 95$ during my moving
    3) a lot of hotels
    4) a lot of motels

    and the funny thing is I have card which costs me 15$/yr as a addition to my friends card. Go AAA

  64. A couple of interesting facts / options:

    1. I’ve been a AAA member for 35 years, yet I am only 32. Kids inherit their parents seniority when they sign up after college.

    2. Lots of newer cars (for example my Audi A4) come with roadside assistance so you do not have to worry about it.

    AAA’s travel savings, free maps and guides pay for my membership every year.

  65. I’ve had AAA for 22 years now and still renewing annually. It’s about $50 a pop now. Several of my credit cards offer some form of roadside assistance, so I have given some thought to canceling AAA but continue to return.

    I don’t use too many AAA discounts nor I do require roadside assistance very often. I can’t remember the last time I personally needed a tow. In the past few years, I’ve called on behalf of other people for service more than for myself. In all, I call AAA average of once every year for some kind of car-related assistance. I obtain new maps once every couple years and I’ve booked an international travel package with them once before.

    AAA’s level of service exceeds my expectations on auto-related calls. They have arrived promptly, usually much faster than expected.

    On discounts I regularly use AAA’s rate on lodging and cheap Oakland A’s tickets. I would estimate the total savings over the life of the membership conservatively at $1000.

    I’ve definitely gone years without using the roadside service and periodically questioned whether it’s worth it. Ultimately, when I think about AAA over the long run, it’s pretty much been free after discounts and still a great deal.

  66. AAA is awesome for maps. I travel a lot and their maps alone make the membership fee worthwhile. Their service sucks though (come in 1-2 hours), though better than GM.

  67. I’d like to add that if you can afford $20 a month, and have health problems, the best choice is onstar. They offer immediate roadside assistance, remote unlocking of your vehicle, and of course, their emergency services (my Dad’s friend had a heart attack in his car and help came in a few minutes and he was already passed out).

  68. This is really weird but after I posted a comment last week (above on Jan. 30), my car totally broke down this past Sunday morning, and I had to call AAA for a tow. I learned from the tow truck driver (a subcontractor with AAA) that normally they charge $100+ for a tow and you get charged for mileage, but they are reimbursed far less from AAA (I think $40 or so, plus a per mileage fee), so that they basically make their money from the repairs. I had him tow my car to my own mechanic so I have no idea if their repairs cost more or not. I was personally glad I had AAA to call because otherwise it would’ve been hard for me to find someone at 7:00 on a Sunday morning, and after we dropped off the car, the tow truck driver gave me a ride so I made it to my class on time. Now I hope that I don’t need to use AAA again anytime soon after posting this comment!

  69. I join AAA when I need a tow. The tow on average costs $65-$90 depending on the time/day of week. Today my car would not start in the parking garage at work. I called AAA. They said last time I was a member was in 2005 so I asked them can I renew and get a tow. They said sure but would charge an additional $25.00 since I’m using the service the day I join. No bigggie cause the cost of a non AAA tow was going to be $72.00, I gave AAA $75.00, so for a three dollar premium I got my tow and can use their service and discounts for the year.

    So my advise is join when you need it, it’s like buying a tow but you get a year’s worth of towing insurance for free!

  70. When my wife and I moved to a remote city in Texas (San Angelo) and drove our cars separately from the moving van. Our junker car broke down in the middle of nowhere, 200 miles from our destination.

    I called AAA at 10pm for a 100 mile tow (my limit/tow), stayed in a cheap hotel, and called them first thing in the morning for another 100 mile tow. It saved us the expense of $6 * 200 miles = $1200. Even if we tried to get it repaired we would have had to tow it 100 miles to the nearest non-tiny town and stay more nights in the cheap hotel.

  71. Freeloader!

  72. I buy AAA’s Plus Membership. I guess it really depends on where you live as to what is necessary. I live in rural Kansas, where you can literally be more than 20 miles from a service station, so having a AAA Plus membership is essential and well worth the ~$120 per year. It has saved me quite a few times.

  73. This is why i always pray not to encounter problems on the road. Gee. Sometimes, i don’t understand car towing companies at all. i dunno. that’s my opinion.

  74. I think AAA has more benefits than people realize. Since signing up I have gotten lots of map, national and international (on maps alone we make back what we pay for in membership). I have had the dreaded 100 mile tow and a few other shorter ones as well. I have gotten free passport photos, free international driver’s license…got a free lesson to teach my hubby how to pack!…lots of last minute hotels discounts (I think you can get better online, but sometimes we get caught off guard in the middle of nowhere with no place to stay). At least two locksmith calls. So I would say it’s definitely worth it financially…however, now that I know they are lobbying against increasing mileage on cars, I think I will cancel the membership. I feel a loyalty to them because they are always there when I need them, but I feel a little betrayed that they are lobbying for the same organization that would like to see the places I love to visit turned into parking lots. I also have no idea why they would have any objection to helping reduce pollution…I have to say, i am planning a trip to new england soon and it doesn’t make much difference to me whether I get there in a Hummer or a Prius.

  75. AAATowmanCalifornia says:

    Hey I actually work for a subcontractor for AAA in Sacramento Ca. If you have the basic card i would be calling to upgrade to the plus it is actually only 74 a year now. Also after ten years i believe you get one call that will carry you for 200 miles. then the rest is 100. But besides that if you goto a AAR you will recieve off the top 20% off.. These shops pay big money to get that so AAA will tow you their….also if you have the basic their is a T codes (trouble Codes exp: T1 Tire Change T8 Tow. T8a Tow Accident AAA has now introduced a Thing Called T8c which no matter how far the nearest AAR is they will cover it…so the ppl in the back woods of Tenn and Ky places like that if you get 5 miles and the nearest is 20 miles away have now fear its covered just make sure you ask for the nearest AAR and if they try to charge you contact AAA directly they will be kicked off AAA contract…

  76. I never had to get my car towed in the last 5 years that I’m with AAA, until this morning. AAA said for the basic membership that I have, I get first 3 mile of towing free, after that it is $4 a mile. They are not even covering first 5 miles, as in the beginning of this year, as I see in others comments. Some time down the road soon, it would be like AAA will cover first 100 yards of towing free,rest the CAB meter rate will be applied…
    Well I’m paying $90 for the basic membership. The lady was suggesting that I should change it to premium, which is $160. I think getting towing and other road side assistance covered from car insurance or credit card companies would be much cheaper than AAA. Just becoz these AAA guys are around for long time, and they can’t control their operation costs or their bonuses, it is sad that we, as customers cover their costs.. Stupid AAA service.. Been with them for 7 years, hardly used them 3 times… I guess it is time to say good bye to AAA.

  77. I’ve been really impressed with AAA’s responsiveness– to me it’s not so much insurance as a premium service that’s great to have when you need it. Just the other night, my friend got a flat in the middle of SF; AAA was there in less than 10 minutes. Driving a used car (nearly 100k miles) makes it worth the peace of mind, even with their anti-environmental lobbying.

  78. Charles H McClung says:

    Manistee Justice Court

    Case # CC 2007081822SC

    Arizona Automobile Association (Defendant)

    AAA Auto Repair 7422 W Thunderbird Peoria Az.

    May 1 2007 Complaint I am suing the AAA Auto Repair for their failure to properly service the 1994 Mercury and return it to me in the condition that met all the terms and conditions of the service agreement (Invoice # 0000751)


    I have a complaint in writing with AAA Auto Repair that started on 1-3-07.

    Have met and discussed it with Gary, (Ser. Mgr.) and Lorenzo Foster (Ser. Advisor).

    Have letter from Randy Nowell, (Bus. Mgr.) who ignored my request.

    My complaint is that a part (Radiator) was installed that was not needed. I was charged for a service that was not performed. (Install intake manifold gaskets) I can prove this service was never done.

    Any owner of a Ford product can fall victim to this scam that I encountered at AAA Auto Repair, Peoria, AZ. We are led to believe, (owners of Ford products with the V-8 281 4.6 L Engine) that the intake manifold must be removed to install heater pipe on this engine. The manifold is NOT removed as WAS this case on my daughterโ€™s car, a 1994 Mercury Grand Marquis. They disguise this by showing on invoice as “Replace intake manifold gaskets”.

    Heater pipe is listed under parts. Invoice shows no labor charge to install. This pipe not visible to owners, so they do not know if it needs replaced. This scam is probably being used in service departments and repair shops all over the country. The removed pipe was replaced September 2005 at Thunderbird Automotive in Phoenix, AZ.

    Gary Bons, Lorenzo Foster, Joe W. did conspire and used fraudulent and deceptive methods to make repairs on the 1994 Mercury as I have stated above.


    I am asking this court to hold the AAA Auto Repair liable for willful failure to perform in an honest manner and charging me for services and parts not needed and enter a judgment against them.

    Therefore, I am asking for a judgment against AAA Auto Repair for the sum of 950.85 as well as the document preparation costs to file this complaint, as well as the court costs and fees, necessary to bring this matter before the court.

    A fair settlement from AAA Auto Repair. I would agree to receive all labor charges and price of the intake manifold gaskets not used. AAA Auto Repair would keep profit made on parts.

    Being under oath, I affirm I am one of the parties in this action. I have read the attached pleading and find that the statements are true to the best of my knowledge and belief.

    Dated this 30th day of April 2007.

    By: _Charles H McClung___________________________

  79. Will AAA pay for the tow if i call my garage for the tow?

  80. Wow after reading all these posts I feel like I’m in good company and not the only one with an eff’d car out there;
    I originally had Allstate Motor Club but then switched to AAA and have done ok thusfar…however my issue now seems to be how many service calls I’m using up within the year.

  81. AAA pays its tow companies between $20 – $25 per tow. That means that the tow company cannot waste a lot of time trying to get your car on the road and during bad weather or very busy periods, the tow company is going to take the best calls first. With AAA (as well as most other motor clubs) the driver is paid approximately minimum wage. If you want to improve the quality of service or have your vehicle towed in a safer manner (where the tow driver does not cut corners) you are better off calling a nearby tow company. When drivers have to hurry with towing, they do not worry about your transmission if they tow the car on its drive wheels, all they want is to get the motor club tow out of the way so they can get free for a better call when it comes in. You might also be interested in knowing that when motor clubs sign contracts with tow companies, the shop for the lowest price they can get in an area and do not ask about or require any type of training for the tow drivers. Trained tow drivers cost more and as long as the customer does not know anything about how their car should be towed, the motor club get away with whoever they send out.

    If you believe that you need insurance to pay for towing, your auto insurance company might offer towing reimbursement coverage that generally covers up to $100 in services. You select a tow company you trust, have it issue you a detailed receipt, you send the receipt to your insurance and usually within a week you will receive your reimbursement.

  82. Unfortunately for people like me right now we can’t even afford to pay the upfront towing fees,that’s why the clubs come in handy.

  83. AAA is worth it if you are driving an older vehicle that is susceptible to breaking down or take long road trips or travel in rural areas. May not be worth it if you are in a newer vehicle under 100,000 miles and only drive in local areas close to your dealer or mechanic.

  84. Mine has 190,000 miles;

  85. AAA is horrible. I got a 15 year old honda from my dad as my first car. I was going on a 300 mile road trip for spring break so I was scared about breaking down. So I looked at AAA and saw it was only 5 miles of towing! that will only help me if I was driving only in the city!

    I did a ton of research and actually found way better deals than AAA! The one I ended up getting is called GMmotor club, (don’t let the name fool you, you DON”t need to have a GM vehicle to join)

    Guess how great they are? for $69 I get UNLIMITED towing. Yes, UNLIMITED mileage. And all the standard stuff like lock out, battery jump, etc etc. I actually had a flat tire today and no donut in the trunk. Was pissed but excited to actually use my GMmotor club! called them, took 3 minutes to give them my info. The person was very nice and even asked me where I wanted it to be towed to. Even tho there were other garages nearby, some just 2 blocks away, I told them to tow me to Walmart that was 5 miles away because they have the cheapest tire in my size. Took the tow guy 20 minutes to get there and he brought a flat bed too, instead of a wrinch truck. Oh and you don’t have to pay, they bill the motor club directly! I asked the guy how much it would have cost if I was to pay out of pocket, and he told me about $80! This is in update NY in a city. SO I basically got my money back and some!!!!!!!!!!

    Oh and another good place to look at is Allstate motorclub (u don’t need to have allstate insurance) They have $42 that covers two people up to $100 bucks of towing.

    • To all those people who are raving about GM Motor Club, things are not as ROSY as you are saying.

      I have had this service for 5 years for my spouse and I.

      Last night I needed the service for the very first time and got a BIG surprise! I later called them this morning to confirm this information below; so call yourself if you do not believe me. Long story short:

      — GM Motor Club is NOT UNLIMITED MILES to a repair facility: Try calling them AFTER business hours to their Roadside Assistance hotline and tell them to setup a tow truck for you to a repair facility OVER 20 miles away. They will tell you that you get up 20 miles, and if more miles are required, you have to give them a credit card number to go farther. This morning customer service again says it is ‘unlimited’ to the nearest repair facility [of their choosing], but when you need the tow truck at 1am, the story is DIFFERENT! I spoke to the call center manager at 1am and confirmed this 20 mile limit. They would not budge without a credit card number. Also, the repair facility is OF THEIR CHOOSING!
      “No other major club offers you unlimited towing miles”
      No mileage limits on towing. Unlike any other major motor club, we’ll tow you to the nearest qualified repair facility, no matter how far it is.

      — GM Motor Club is NOT UNLIMITED CALLS: Someone else mentioned this. When I signed up, the friendly agent said I would get UNLIMITED CALLS. This is not true, and YOU MUST PRESS them on this to get the true answer and it is buried at the VERY bottom of their FAQ! You only get 4 calls per year; so use them well.

  86. also, with the internet, AAA’s saving are lame. You can find way better deals using priceline. And with GPS only 60 bucks, who seriously uses maps? seriously? The money you save on gas from being lost will more than pay for the GPS 10 times over.

  87. Thanks for that info Gao…prior to that the lowest rates I found were with BP Motor Club,of course right after the oil spill when people were protesting them^ I did find out recently from my Nationwide insurance agent that for a few dollars extra on my insurance I would be covered,though not sure if it’s unlimited. I still have my AAA Premium from last year but the most they cover is up to 100 miles and 1 bonus tow of 200 mi.

  88. I found out the hard way that AAA does not cover you getting out of the mud or sand…I’m cancelling my membership :/

  89. mike varble says:

    As a AAA contractor i can tell you we get paid way below minimum wages for the service we provide. After spending 70,000 dollars for a tow truck and 3000 for insurance plus 400 a gallon for fuel there is nothing left for a profit for us.I started in 1990 as a contractor and we were paid $24 for a tow now in 2012 we are paid$25 22 years and only a 1 dollar raise. The last time i asked for a raise the supervisor laughed at me on the phone. They just built a new car care center in wmbg va.Their policy of every car has to cost at least $500 to repair is insane. If you take your car there it is going to cost at least that to get it back, DO NOT TRUST them, please get a second opinion.Check out richmond biz news website for a reality check on aaa, you will be amazed at their actions.
    Mike Varble

  90. To all those people who are raving about GM Motor Club, things are not
    as ROSY as you are saying.

    I have had this service for 5 years for my spouse and I.

    Last night I needed the service for the very first time and got a BIG
    surprise! I later called them this morning to confirm this information
    below; so call yourself if you do not believe me. Long story short:

    — GM Motor Club is NOT UNLIMITED MILES to a repair facility: Try
    calling them AFTER business hours to their Roadside Assistance hotline
    and tell them to setup a tow truck for you to a repair facility OVER
    20 miles away. They will tell you that you get up 20 miles, and if
    more miles are required, you have to give them a credit card number to
    go farther. This morning customer service again says it is ‘unlimited’
    to the nearest repair facility [of their choosing], but when you need
    the tow truck at 1am, the story is DIFFERENT! I spoke to the call
    center manager at 1am and confirmed this 20 mile limit. They would not
    budge without a credit card number. Also, the repair facility is OF
    “No other major club offers you unlimited towing miles”
    No mileage limits on towing. Unlike any other major motor club, we’ll
    tow you to the nearest qualified repair facility, no matter how far it

    — GM Motor Club is NOT UNLIMITED CALLS: Someone else mentioned this.
    When I signed up, the friendly agent said I would get UNLIMITED CALLS.
    This is not true, and YOU MUST PRESS them on this to get the true
    answer and it is buried at the VERY bottom of their FAQ! You only get
    4 calls per year; so use them well.

  91. Greg Grogg says:

    @Mike Varable, AAA rated repair shops ONLY use Manufacturers authorized parts to repair vehicles. Then again they only use NEW parts as well. Might be why their prices are so High. I got to a AAA rated facility with all ASE certified mechanics and the cost while HIGH are still 30% lower then what a “stealorship” would charges us.

  92. I’ve got AAA basic, which covers the first 5 mile of towing. my car broke down 55 miles away from my home, the call center person warned me it would cost me something at the end, what choice did I have. At the end the truck driver said it shouldn’t cost me anything, didn’t charge me anything. Now a month later the tow place is calling me saying that AAA covers the first 5 miles, and I owe them $200 for the tow. Now, the truck driver gave me a copy of the receipt, and the cost that was going to AAA was $177, the entire cost of the trip. Now why would I pay more for the rest of what AAA didn’t cover than it would’ve cost me if I had just called the tow company myself? We’ll see how this plays out.

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