Automotive Research Center

Welcome to the Automotive Research Center (ARC)—AAA federation's only dedicated automotive research facility. This state-of-the-art automotive test facility—located in Los Angeles, California—performs emissions, fuel economy, performance, and many other types of tests on cars, light trucks, and related products. The ARC also produces updates on a broad range of key automotive issues.

Zero Emission Electric Vehicle

FUEL ECONOMY

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Is Premium Fuel Worth the Money?

Americans waste $2.1 billion a year on higher-octane fuel when not recommended by manufacturer. A new study from the Automotive Research Center looks at what effects using premium fuel had on vehicles for which it wasn’t required.

SEE WHAT THE STUDY FOUND


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Top Tier Fuel Really Does Work

Many gas station brands talk about how their product is a “Top Tier™ gasoline,” which they say reduces the amount of “gunk” left in the engine. AAA recently tested a number of Top Tier and non-Top Tier gasoline brands to see whether such claims are merited, and the results suggest they are.

SEE WHAT THE STUDY FOUND


After Market Devices

Aftermarket Devices

When gas prices skyrocketed, many drivers were tempted to buy devices and additives that claimed to improve vehicle mileage. But AAA advises consumers to use caution against buying products that are unlikely to save them money on gas.

FIND OUT WHY


Fuel Savings Tips

Fuel Savings Tips

Factors like natural disasters and tension in the Middle East have impacted gas prices sending markets in an upward swing for most of the year. To help drivers save money at the pump, AAA offers the following fuel savings tips.

GET TIPS


Top-10 Fuel Efficient Vehicles

Top 10 Fuel Efficient Vehicles

With gasoline prices running high, considerable interest has been placed on the fuel efficiency of modern automobiles. Read on to learn about the top 10 vehicles the ARC tested with the highest EPA combined miles per gallon (mpg) or mile per gallon equivalent (mpge).

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VEHICLE MAINTENANCE

Spare Tire Trends

Spare Tire Trends

A spare tire probably isn’t something that you have given much thought to, however it’s an important element to every car and is extremely helpful when you find yourself stranded due to unexpected tire damage. Read on to discover the importance of the spare tire, along with tire preservation tips.

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Dead Battery Prevention

Dead Battery Prevention

No one likes to be stuck with a dead battery, but the fact is that cold weather is hard on cars, especially car batteries. According to the AAA, dead battery calls in December 2012 increased almost 18 percent over December 2011; that’s 128,000 vehicles for December alone.

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Make Your New Car Last Forever . . . Almost

Make Your New Car Last Forever . . . Almost

You are about to make what is—for most people—the second most expensive purchase of their life. You have arranged financing after choosing your dream vehicle, and have wisely selected a strong, reliable vehicle after checking consumer magazines. Here are some additional steps you can take to make your new car last way beyond the payment schedule.

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SAFETY

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive Driving

Most drivers in a recent AAA survey admitted to expressing significant anger behind the wheel. When an aggressive driver becomes angry, their behavior could escalate to road rage—and the results could be deadly. Read our tips on how to best avoid getting involved in a dangerous situation on the road.

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Vehicle Recalls

Understanding Vehicle Recalls

In the past 50 years, almost 400 million cars, trucks, and other vehicles have been recalled to correct safety defects. What does a recall involve, how do manufacturers decide when to conduct one, and how can drivers find out if their vehicle may be subject to a recall?

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Safe Car Test

How to Select the Safest Car

According to figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at least one vehicle crash occurs every 5 seconds in the United States. So it's not surprising that one of the most common questions the Auto Club receives from members is, "What is the safest car?" While there is no simple answer, we can point you toward resources to help you understand vehicle-crash ratings.

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What To Do In Case of an Accident

What To Do In Case of an Accident

The unthinkable has happened and you’re involved in an auto accident. So what do you do now? Despite the temptation, venting your emotions, (e.g., “freaking out”) is not recommended. This is a time to keep a cool head so you can limit or prevent any additional injuries or property damage.

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What To Do When Your Car Breaks Down

What To Do When Your Car Breaks Down

Nobody enjoys it when their car breaks down, or when they’re stranded on the road. However, it can happen to the best of us . . . even owning a brand new vehicle is not a 100% guarantee that it will never happen. As such, here are some tips to help you in the event you should become victim of a breakdown.

GET TIPS


How To Avoid Staged Collisions

How To Avoid Staged Collisions

Most drivers are trying to avoid crashes when they hit the road, but some scammers intentionally seek to cause collisions so they can make claims against you or your insurer. Learn what you can do to avoid falling prey to such schemes, and what you should do if you suspect a crash you’ve been involved in is no accident.

BE PREPARED


Driving With Debris

Driving With Debris

Large objects that fall from vehicles onto the road can pose a serious threat to motorists. Recent research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that road debris in recent years contributed to thousands of crashes and hundreds of deaths. Read our tips on how to avoid dropping or hitting objects on the road.

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TECHNOLOGY

2017 Green Car Guide

2017 Green Car Guide

The ARC compiles an annual AAA Green Car Guide including evaluations of most of the “Green” models (hybrids, electric vehicles, alternative-fueled vehicles, PZEVs, and conventional vehicles with class-leading fuel efficiency) available at the time of publication. This guide highlights statistics and reports about eco-friendly vehicles.

 

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Top 10 Scoring Vehicles

Top 10 Scoring Vehicles

Eighty-one vehicles were tested for the 2016 edition of the AAA Green Car Guide. Specific tests were conducted using procedures from the Society of Automotive Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and from the ARC itself.

 

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Fuel Cell Vehicles

Are Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles the Future?

Consumers are becoming more comfortable with battery-electric cars as they gain traction in the marketplace, but batteries come with some serious shortcomings. Cars that run off compressed hydrogen gas overcome those hurdles, and now Hyundai and Toyota are exploring the market with hydrogen vehicles of their own.

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Putting Driver Assistance Technologies to the Test

As technology advances, so do auto makers efforts to increase safety features in new vehicles. Driver assistance technologies, such as blind spot monitoring and lane warning departure systems, are becoming commonplace in new cars. While these systems have great potential to keep drivers safer while on the road, it is important that motorists are aware that even these advanced safety features have limitations.

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Hands-free Driving

Hands-Free Driving Isn’t Risk-Free Driving

Using state-of-the-art tools for measuring brain activity and driving performance, research is showing that drivers using hands-free phone systems have trouble focusing on basic driving tasks. The newest studies found that the effects of such mental distractions can persist afterward.

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THE ARC FACILITY

The Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center (ARC) is the American Automobile Association (AAA) federation's only dedicated automotive research facility.

Located at Auto Club Headquarters in Los Angeles, the state-of-the-art automotive test facility performs emissions, fuel economy, performance, and many other types of tests on cars, light trucks, and related products. The ARC produces and distributes regular updates on a broad range of key automotive issues to inform staff, members, and the media.

The facility consists of a four-wheel drive dynamometer test cell, a workshop, and a “soak” area where vehicles are prepped for emissions and fuel economy testing. The test cell doubles as an environmental chamber where cars can be tested at any temperature between 20 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Tests are performed using procedures developed by the ARC, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), California Air Resources Board (CARB), and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

Putting Products to the Test

Testing is often performed to certify aftermarket products as legal for sale in California, the rest of the U.S., and occasionally Europe; to validate performance, emissions, or gas mileage improvement claims; or for development.

The ARC supports AAA National in joint projects including: evaluations of electric vehicle range at extreme temperatures, engine stop-start systems, EPA “window-sticker” fuel economy estimates, ethanol fuel, and other projects. The ARC also supports AAA public policy initiatives providing unbiased data to support public policy positions.

At the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., the ARC performs tests for acceleration, braking, handling, interior and exterior noise, and maneuverability using SAE Recommended Practices. In the 1980s, the ARC participated in SAE’s development of the acceleration and braking Recommended Practices. These tests are used for the annual AAA Green Car Guide. Occasionally, the Auto Club Speedway is used to validate performance claims of aftermarket products.

Influencing Automotive Safety

The ARC started in the 1960s when Congress held a series of public policy debates on auto emissions. The Auto Club launched the ARC at that time to provide a factual basis for participation in the debates. The first ARC facility was in the old carriage house, a remnant of the family estate on which the Los Angeles Headquarters was built. It moved to a Specialty Equipment Market Association-sponsored facility in 2002, and returned to headquarters in the new location in May 2015.

The ARC's role expanded in the 1980s to include vehicle safety testing. This allowed the Auto Club to provide members and the media with information about vehicle safety, performance, and comfort. Research also supported National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety initiatives.

In recent years, the ARC has undertaken broader data analysis and research, including some revenue-generating projects, such as federal contracts for defect investigations. Continuing the Auto Club's long tradition of roadside assistance, the ARC supports AAA National Pacesetter/On-the-Go strategies by identifying roadside repair solutions.

The ARC was instrumental in the EPA’s 2006 decision to mandate that car manufacturers post more accurate mileage estimates on new vehicles. It was also involved in revising California’s smog check testing in the 1990s to help the state further improve air quality.

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The ARC Facility
Auto Club Speedway

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