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Does Being an AAA Approved Auto Repair Shop REALLY Matter?

Seriously – we see the logo, we get the membership promotions, and we sometimes see auto repair shops with the sticker in the window.  The sticker says that that particular auto repair facility is, or was, a AAA approved repair shop.  What we want to explore is whether this really means anything at all – or is it just a marketing gimmick?   In order to find out if being a AAA approved repair facility really matters we will look at a few key points such as:

  • What is AAA?
  • How many repair shops, out of all the repair shops in America, get this approval?
  • How does AAA screen the shops?  How often?
  • How does a shop maintain their status?
  • Does this approval really matter at all?

AAA Approved Auto Repair

What is AAA?

The American Automobile Association claims to be North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Over the years, AAA has become recognized as:

  • The nation’s leading provider of roadside assistance and automotive-related expertise.
  • The world’s largest publisher of travel information and one of the world’s largest leisure travel agencies.
  • One of the most active advocates for the welfare of the traveling public.
  • One of the fastest growing financial products and services organizations in the United States.
  • A top performer in the life insurance industry.

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, was founded in 1927 with 239 members and has grown to more than 860,000 members statewide. The club’s 650+ employees operate 10 AAA offices and eight AAA Auto Repair facilities across the state. Annually, AAA Arizona responds to more than 450,000 calls for roadside assistance on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.

Verdict:  AAA has a very long history, and an obviously good reputation.  So yes, the name stands for something and having a AAA association says something positive about a repair shop.

How many repair shops, out of all the repair shops in America, get this approval?

AAA claims that there are approximately 5,500 AAA approved repair facilities in the United States and Canada.

And according to IBISWorld.com there are 252,683 auto repair facilities in the United States alone. Note that this does not include unregistered shops (i.e. back yard mechanics). Manta backs up this number with a reported 242,934 repair shops in the United States.  We will split the difference and say that there are 247,000 shops in the U.S.

For the sake of this article I am having issue finding quantifiable information the number of auto repair shops in Canada, and will update this article when this information is located.   For now we will assume a conservative 35% of the U.S. total, which is 86,450 shops.

The math:

  • 333,450 auto repair shops in the U.S. and Canada.
  • 5,500 approved AAA shops.
  • ONLY 1.5% of all general auto repair shops are AAA approved.

Verdict:  Wow.  Ok, so the approval is not given to everyone.  So there is some exclusivity to it.

How does AAA screen the shops?  How often?

As we have found, only a small percentage of repair shops meet the AAA standards and become an Approved Auto Repair Shop. It’s a process that requires transparency and honesty while seeking the AAA approval.  The process goes like this:

  • AAA Performs Surveys:  Upon initial application, AAA representatives make a personal visit to the shop and survey the business.  They poll customers about their satisfaction with the service received, and a shop must score a 94% satisfaction rating or higher.
  • AAA Tours Repair Facility:  The representatives ensure proper, modern equipment is present.  They check overall condition and state of the facility.
  • AAA Interviews the Repair Techs: AAA ensures that the repair technicians are ASE Certified in every repair area that the repair facility performs.  The ASE Certifications show that the shop’s mechanics are highly skilled.  AAA also checks to ensure that there are Master Technitions on staff.  A Master Technician is someone who is certified in every area of the ASE Certification scope.
  • AAA Checks the Shop’s Credability:  AAA checks to ensure the shop carries the proper liability insurance, and perform checks to ensure the business is ethical, credible, and trustworthy.

Verdict:  On site checks and customer polling along says a lot.  This is no mail-order certification!  There is quite a bit that goes into the AAA certification.

How does a shop maintain their status?

Once AAA has reviewed an auto repair shop and considered it part of their Approved Auto Repair program, they continue to monitor the shop. All shops on the list are continually reviewed through review cards. Each shop must turn in 20 cards each month, and auto repair shops in the AAA program must keep a 93% or higher customer satisfaction rate.

From AAA’s own documentation: “Each Approved Auto Repair facility is required to provide customer satisfaction survey cards to AAA members who utilize their services. AAA members rate the service they received and return the survey card to AAA North Penn. This is an ongoing process, so the quality of service our member receives is constantly monitored.

Also from AAA: “These facilities undergo an annual re-inspection in an effort to uphold AAA’s high standards.

Learn more from AAA’s website FAQs.

Verdict:  Even after the initial approval rating, repair facilities are inspected and monitored to ensure they maintain the standards.  This alleviates the possibility of a shop “cleaning up their act” one time for the rating.  Also, the stickers and signage displayed at the shop that shows they are an Approved Repair Shop will indicate what year the approval was done.

Related Article: Prescott Import Car Service awarded AAA Top Shop Award for the 5th year.

Does this approval really matter at all?

Based on the information above, the answer to that is a resounding YES!!!

Prescott Import Car Service – an AAA Approved Auto Repair Shop

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