AAA Doesn’t Like Doing Work

Since I’ve returned to the wonderful and freezing east coast in December, I’ve had two encounters with AAA while staying with my parents.

Encounter 1
Around December 20th or so our car couldn’t get up an unplowed hill in New Hampshire. It was a two-wheel drive Mazda (I forget the model), and for whatever reason we couldn’t gun it enough to get to our house.

We called AAA to see if the car could be towed up the hill. No go, they said, if we couldn’t get it up then they couldn’t get it up either. Furthermore that didn’t count as something that would be covered, since the problem was with the road, not the car.

We said, “well eventually we’ll be stuck long enough out here that we’ll run out of gas.” The reply? “Well, in that case we’d come bring you more gas.” Uh.

I can believe them that that towing the car up the hill seemed implausible. But they could have offered something, like, towing the car somewhere safe and then bringing us up the hill.

Instead, we had to walk. In 10F degree (-9.5C) snowing weather. Up a steep hill, in the dark, for what we later clocked to be 0.7 miles (1 km). While carrying all of our luggage. It felt like the desert scene from Spaceballs, but we didn’t have any food or supplies at the house, so there were more necessities than usual.

I have severe chronic asthma, which though has gotten much better over the years, still needs work. It must have taken me around fifteen minutes to breath normally again after deeply inhaling freezing cold air for so long.

Later the next day, a family acquaintance with a plow came and plowed the street, then managed to gun the car straight up the hill with no problem. Gee, I wonder if AAA could have done that.

The incident caused my parents to, a mere ten days later, get a used 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid for its four wheel drive.

Encounter 2
Cars are supposedly supposed to turn off their internal lights once they’ve been closed and locked. For one reason or another that didn’t happen in the Toyota Hybrid, and the battery drained. We didn’t have jumper cables for that car yet so we called AAA.

AAA refused to jump the car because it was a hybrid. They hadn’t developed a procedure for hybrids yet. Huh? Hybrids have been out for a decade. What has AAA been doing all this time?

But that’s irrelevant, because it’s a normal battery like any other car. The owner’s manual even tells you how to jump it, and it’s exactly the same as any other vehicle.

So AAA tows the car back to our house, but the guy AAA contracted wants to try jumping it anyway out of curiosity. He connects positive to positive, then negative to negative – wait what?

You’re not supposed to connect the dead negative terminal – it’s supposed to go to ground. So AAA apparently doesn’t know how to jump a normal car. The guy was nice though, was glad to know the correct procedure, and what do you know? The hybrid jumped fine.

I’m not really sure I have one, other than that AAA clearly isn’t going to go out of their way to help you. They have some tome of procedures and will obey it to the letter. Maybe they’re afraid hybrids will detonate into some sort of mushroom cloud explosion. Perhaps in 2050 they’ll know how to jump them (or, any car).

2 thoughts on “AAA Doesn’t Like Doing Work

  1. BlueRaja

    A hybrid has two batteries, the second of which (I have just read) is used to start the car in colder temperatures. Perhaps it is this battery they assumed was dead, and which they don’t know how to charge?
    Did you let them know the battery was dead from keeping the lights on?

  2. dvander Post author

    I think there may even be more batteries – I’m not sure how many of those are the standard 12V. Yup, we told them it was from the lights. Perhaps there was indeed confusion on their end, though there shouldn’t have been.

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