7 Services AAA Offers That You Might Have Not Known About

The American Automobile Association, or AAA, was founded in 1902 when nine of the nation's 50 existing motor vehicle clubs joined forces in Chicago. At the time, there were only about 23,000 cars on the road, but the Journal of Consumer Research says that number has since ballooned to more than 283,000. To keep up with the growth in the domestic auto market, AAA vastly increased its services. Initially, the organization's focus was on lobbying for improvements to roads that had been designed for the horse and buggy, and AAA's efforts helped spur the federal government to provide funds for highways beginning in 1916. 

The year before, AAA began offering its members roadside assistance in the event of a breakdown, and that service continues at the core of its operations more than a century later. AAA's 32 nationwide clubs average about a million calls for help each year, along with several other services that can help make your driving experience less stressful.

Maps and TripTik

AAA's first published printed map was of the streets of Staten Island, New York, and was issued in 1905, and a state map of New York was offered in 1911. That same year, the organization issued its first strip map, outlining the route from New York to Jacksonville, Florida. That map was the precursor to AAA's TripTik customized trip planner, which the company established as a trademark in 1932. AAA still provides paper maps to members free of charge and will assemble a spiral-bound TripTik, especially for your intended route, which helps you avoid frustrating map-folding origami challenges when you just want to get to the next roadside attraction.

Mapping and navigation apps for Android smartphones and iPhones are plentiful but put you at the mercy of cell phone signal availability, which can be spotty in rural and mountainous areas. AAA's paper maps may seem primitive in the age of digital everything, but they still are more enjoyable to spread out with on a hotel bed mid-trip than even the largest smartphones or tablets. If you insist on digital maps, AAA has an online map gallery and TripTik planning tool.  

Repair shop recommendations

Predicting the cost of auto repairs can be tricky, and determining when a mechanic is taking advantage of you is difficult, too. When your car breaks down, AAA can recommend a shop from its network of more than 8,000 facilities, giving you the assurance that you are in good (albeit greasy) hands until you're back on the road. 

AAA members get a 10% discount up to $50 on repairs performed at approved shops, along with a free diagnosis and estimate, which will be provided within one hour if you've been towed to the shop by AAA. Repairs done at an AAA-approved shop are covered by a two-year, 24,000-mile warranty on parts and labor, and if you've performed our array of simple tests for a dead battery and determined that's what you're facing, AAA will come to you to do a more scientific check and replace the battery if necessary.