An extended warranty, also referred to in this article as a Vehicle Protection Program, from AAA picks up where your brand’s new car warranty ends. It can help prolong your coverage so that you don’t have a large, unexpected repair bill. Coverage is exclusionary, so there is a long list of items that are not covered. Check your policy for details. And then check it twice.
Note that AAA is not the actual insurance company offering these plans. In the case of AAA Northeast, AAA acts as a broker for Route 66 Extended Warranty. The one you are offered may be from a different company.
The best way to find out if your local AAA club currently offers the Vehicle Protection Program is to ask. Each club is independent and may or may not offer extended warranties. Also, your vehicle may or may not apply. To find out if your local AAA club offers an extended warranty that may work for you start here.
Car Talk surveyed a group of the largest AAA clubs to see how many offered extended warranties and the group was about evenly split.
|AAA Club||Extended Warranty Offered|
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AAA does not offer extended vehicle warranties in all areas. Also, AAA suggests that you compare its offering to another company or two to ensure you find the best value. Car Talk offers a list of the 7 Best Extended Warranty Companies. Here are some suggestions to consider if AAA doesn’t offer contracts through your local club or if you need a price to cross-shop against.
Car Talk asked AAA Northeast for policy price examples for a Ford F-150, Toyota RAV4, and Honda Accord. All from model year 2016, and all with 65,000 miles. We also asked for the pricing of a policy for a 2007 Toyota Highlander with 120,000 miles to have an older model with which to compare. We were offered only one policy option for the three 2016 model year vehicles, and the older Highlander was not offered coverage. In speaking with AAA Northeast’s extended warranty customer service representative, we learned that AAA Northeast does offer motorcycle coverage in our area, but not RV coverage. AAA’s PR team told Car Talk that what types of vehicles AAA will cover varies by club location.
We were happy to see how AAA Northeast terms what is covered. The policy simply says, “Includes all items covered under the manufacturer’s original coverage, except for those items listed under “Not covered.” In other words, AAA Northeast just replicates the new car bumper to bumper coverage your automaker offers. So, you need only refer to your original warranty for what is and what is not covered.
AAA Northeast then adds in some additional language explaining nicely that routine maintenance like oil changes and timing belt replacements are not covered. Nor should you expect wear items like tires and wiper blades to be included. A shortlist of specifically-excluded items like the clock, lighting, airbag systems, and shocks and struts are spelled out in the contract in one condensed paragraph. One such excluded system is a manual transmission clutch, which is arguably a wear item. We also noticed that the keyfobs are singled out for special limitations. Last, damage of any kind is not part of this policy, though your car insurance policy should help out. Check out your policy for exact details as it may vary from local club to local club.
In addition to the repair policy coverage, the contract includes emergency roadside assistance and also rental car reimbursement. This coverage obviously overlaps a AAA membership, however, it is limited to the vehicle. Your AAA membership has value that goes well beyond that.
AAA Northeast also offers optional tire and wheel damage insurance with its policies. These can help if you rub a curb or damage your wheel and tire in a monster pothole. Here is chart showing how our example pricing looked:
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$2,300. That is the price that AAA Northeast offered us for all three of the common vehicles we requested pricing for. The tire and wheel package adds $585. As we mentioned earlier, the club declined to offer a policy for the 14-year-old Highlander. Your specific vehicle and the local club that offers the policy will dictate what your price is. Since each local club is an independent organization, there may be a variation in the costs and services that the group in your area offers.
The policy AAA Northeast offered would be in effect until either five years passed or the vehicle reached 100,000 miles. That was true for both the full policy and also the added tire and wheel policy. Be certain to look closely at the plan you are offered as it may be different.
During the research for each of the detailed stories Car Talk has created highlighting extended warranty companies, we interviewed company managers. None of them told us that they sometimes refer customers to a lower-cost competitor. Yet, Ted Lyons, Director-Financial Services at AAA Northeast, told us exactly that. And, when we anonymously asked for a policy for our old Highlander, AAA advised us that other carriers would be our only option. Also, Ted points out that AAA Northeast won’t write you a bare-bones policy for a low-level of coverage. What is usually called a “Bronze” or “Silver” plan from other companies. Ted explained that they do not want a customer to buy a low-cost policy with little value. In the case of AAA Northeast, the company wants its members to get a comprehensive policy just like their new car warranty that they can put to good use when needed. Other clubs offer different packages administered by different agencies. We suggest you look closely at the package your local club offers you for your specific vehicle.
John Paul is a lifelong friend of Car Talk. He is also the President of the New England Motor Press Association, Senior Manager of Public Affairs for AAA, and AAA’s Car Doctor. We reached out to John and asked him if he had any advice for those shopping for a AAA extended warranty or any other brand. John offered two pieces of valuable advice. “Read your contract closely before you sign it,” was his first advice. In his experience, John says that most of the unhappy customers who own extended warranties -- all extended warranties, not just AAA’s -- failed to read the terms before they purchased the policy. He also suggested that those who receive a quote from AAA for an extended warranty should seek out a second price from some other company and compare the two to ensure that the AAA plan is the best value. How’s that for honesty?
John Paul knows these warranties inside and out. Among the many hats John has worn at AAA in his 36 years is that of consumer arbiter in cases where policyholders were denied coverage. In many cases, John Paul sided with the policyholder. Being a certified mechanic, he was uniquely qualified to argue as to why a certain breakdown should be covered. John also remembers the time before AAA offered extended warranty coverage. “Members were calling us and asking us to help them find a policy. So we decided to offer one that we felt was fair and honest to our members.”
We searched for reviews of AAA extended warranties and found them hard to find. However, we did find reviews of Route 66 Extended Warranty on Yelp. Route 66 is the company that AAA Northeast works with. Like all of the reviews we have seen for extended warranties, the ones for this brand are mainly 1-star or 5-star. The average for this company was 2-stars. The most recent was posted just this week.
A 5-star review that included the comment, “Fast service and helpful using my personal mechanic for the 1st time. They were patient and guided us through the process.”
Another 5-star review from last fall said, “I purchased a warranty from this company twice. The first one the replaced my alternator on my Elantra, replaced belts, gave me a rental. The second one replaced my transmission on my Pathfinder, replaced a broken window switch that was keeping my window from going up and down in my driver door. They paid for the rental. I had no complaints.”
Others had a less happy outcome. One Yelper wrote,* “They pick and choose what they want to cover when repairs are needing to be done. I paid $2100 for this warranty, I only used $1200 of it. I ask for them to cancel it and refund what I did not use. They refused to refund me the remaining amount that was owed to me.”*
Another wrote, “All I can say is if your extended RT66 warranty states it is just like the factory warranty, and your factory warranty would cover your clutch going out, then so should the extended RT66 extended warranty.”
If you read our section above on what we noticed was excluded by the contract, you may remember that clutches are excluded. This is a good example of why so many negative reviews relate back to not reading the contract.
AAA stands for the Automobile Association of America. The group is a federation of motor clubs throughout North America, not a single entity. AAA has a century-long history in North America. One of the founding clubs, AAA Northeast, traces its roots to the Newport Auto Club founded in 1900. This was one of nine clubs that met in 1902 to form what is now the American Automobile Association as we know it.
The prime benefit of AAA membership is roadside assistance. For a reasonable amount every year, if you break down, have a flat tire or run out of gas, AAA will help you out. Many other extended warranty companies include roadside assistance as a side benefit, so the services here may be comparable to those of any other extended warranty company.
But, depending upon where you live, AAA membership has significant benefits that go well beyond towing if your engine falls out. Northeast membership, for example, allows transactions that would normally take place at the dreaded Registry of Motor Vehicles to be conducted at AAA offices. In the Covid-19 summer of 2020, for example, most RMV offices were closed, and you had to jump online first thing in the morning like you were trying to buy Led Zeppelin tickets to get a place at the few open locations. AAA Membership meant that if you were renewing a license, you could do it at a AAA office. Same with a Real ID, a registration renewal and many other transactions. No extended warranty company is offering that level of service.
AAA coverage also goes with the member, not the vehicle. So, if your young adult child away at college is a member and she joins some knuckleheads on a road trip through Death Valley in a beater, she can call AAA, and the club will send help if needed.
AAA also offers insurance, and travel assistance. Which club offers what services is not uniform. To be a AAA organization, there are certain offerings that are mandated by AAA. For example, all AAA clubs offer roadside assistance. However, extended vehicle warranties are not a requirement, and it is not offered in some areas.
Members of AAA, regardless of their local club’s name, enjoy such a long list of discounts and benefits it is hard to know where to begin. As a long-time member myself, I for years carried the bail bond card that my membership package included. You never know. Attorney Saul Goodman is now working at Cinnabon, so it’s good to have a number to call. As an on-the-road salesperson for two decades, I used my AAA membership card for discounts on hotels, rental cars, and even meals to the tune of many thousands of dollars in savings. A local pharmacy chain even offered me a AAA discount recently when I helped a friend without prescription coverage and I paid cash. Read your member benefits for an updated listing of the many benefits AAA members enjoy.
|Annual Membership||Classic||Plus||Premier||Enrollment Fee|
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Yes, AAA does offer extended car warranties in some areas. However, each local club determines the offering, so start with your local chapter for details.
Yes, the AAA extended car warranty can be a good value for some shoppers. AAA recommends that you compare its price to other providers and choose the plan you feel best about.
The best extended car warranty is often from your car’s manufacturer. Car Talk’s research also points to AAA, CARCHEX and Endurance as offering products many owners find valuable.
Vehicle owners whose budget can be upset by a large repair bill, and owners of certain models with a known history of costly repairs may find an extended car warranty offers a good value.
The best way to get a good price is to compare offers. We recommend reaching out to...