The American Automobile Association is on the move — as usual.
The motor club and travel agent giant will expand its Toms River operation with a grand opening scheduled for January 2012, according to a AAA spokesperson.
AAA is moving operations from its present Route 37 West location to an 11,000-square-foot location at 1199 Route 37 East in what was the old Saturn auto dealership. The club has invested $1.5 million in the property, which will offer travel agency services, insurance and six-bay, seven-day-a-week auto repair shop.
The repair shop will be the first of its kind in New Jersey with the well-respected AAA brand.
“Over the last few years, the economy has had a tremendous impact on motorists, vehicle maintenance and the auto repair industry overall,’’ said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “The recession has led to many people keeping their vehicles longer, thus making vehicle maintenance more critical than ever.
“These challenging fiscal times have also caused many dealerships and auto repair shops to close. With so many automotive service shops disappearing, AAA Mid-Atlantic wants to ensure that reliable and trustworthy repair services are available to motorists,” Noble added.
The availability of the property and its proximity to the tourist centers on the barrier island figured into the AAA decision to move east.
“It’s a prime location,’’ Noble said. “The services offered will not only be available to AAA members, but to the general public as well.’’
Noble said AAA members will receive a discount on auto service.
“It is in a high traffic area that is especially busy in the summertime,’’ she said. “AAA is a respected name that has been around for 110 years.’’
Noble said staffers from the existing AAA office on Route 37 West will be relocated to the Route 37 East location. In all, 28 employees will work at the new location. Noble said most of the jobs in the auto repair section will be new employees.
Noble said some of the services offered by the repair facility will include: auto diagnostic, cooling and electrical systems and oil changes.
“The repair shop will handle most automotive repair with the exception of major engine repair and body work,’’ Noble said.
Noble said the hours of operation for both the office and repair branches will be Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m.to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We’ve had a presence in Toms River for many years,’’ Noble said. “It is a great location that will provide great service.’’
Noble said the Toms River office has had 34,000 visitors so far in 2011.