Opinions on Roadside Coverage (eg AAA)

I am wondering what others think of having AAA coverage or competitors? Is it really worth it? I really have no idea what it costs for a tow but most are very limited in the distance they take you before charging you.

I have had it through my new car warranty although only 36,000 miles and in the past when parents gave it to as Xmas gift years ago as add on to their policy.

I used it once 14 years ago? Maybe just lucky?

What do others think.

So here is my experience with AAA: Yes, you get coverage, but you can wait an excessive time to get a tow. We had to get a tow from my son’s highschool parking lot (in town) and waited 1.5 hrs just to get the truck there. The driver explained the situation to us. They negotiate low rates with the towing companies. The companies therefore weigh the AAA tow call against a normal tow call. It turns out that the higher $ tows are always a higher priority. I have decided to take my chances from now on.

Last fall I pointed out to a friend, parked next to me in a public lot, that one of her tires was very low on air. “Not to worry,” sez I, opening my trunk and taking out my 12v tire pump. (Be prepared, right?) The idea was that we could inflate the tire enough to drive to the shop for repair.

But she declined because she had roadside coverage… and a cell phone. So I left, assuming everything would work out. The next day I learned that her assistance came from across the state line and she must have waited something like two hours. I felt bad about leaving her at the time but it was her decision. That was a harsh lesson for both of us.

I have had both American Oil Motor Club (probably BP motorclub now) and more recently AAA. I found both companies to be prompt. The last time I used AAA, I had a left front tire go flat on the interstate and with all traffic, I didn’t want to stand by the road and change the tire. When I called AAA, they said they would be there in about 45 minutes. They arrived in 20 minutes. The truck had emergency lights to slow traffic, an air compressor to run the impact wrench and power the jack to lift the vehicle. I was on my way in less than 10 minutes. I also like reading the magazine and getting the travel literature.

Yeah, I have Ammoco. Some are better than others but AAA is good and maybe a little more expensive. Like I said before, the main reason I have it is to be able to get a hold of someone when you are having a problem. It’s pretty lonely on the side of the road and not having a local tow you can call, or the number, or worse yet no one wants to come out because it is late or a weekend or a holiday. You call the 800 number and they find someone-no muss no fuss. So that’s worth it to me and there have been a number of times over the last 25 years or so that made it worth while. The lastest was the wife left the car at the airport for four days but the trunk didn’t get shut so light on and battery dead 6:00 Sunday night. I’m 50 miles away but call Ammoco and they take care of it. Only problem was that they have begun to outsource their call center and the person on the other end was having trouble finding MINNEAPOLIS on her map.

“. . . and the person on the other en d was having trouble finding MINNEAPOLIS on her map”.

Maybe she had a winter map. Minneapolis is only on summer maps!

It depends on you. On the average you can expect to pay more through the roadside coverage than if you just called for help when you needed it and paid on a per use bases. Of course some people will win and some will loose. However if the convenience (having one number to call) and the feelings of security are worth something to you, then it might be a good choice for you.

From my personal experience AAA is often quite slow. Today with cell phones… Well it is just less of an issue.

There are two reasons why I don’t have AAA.

  1. In remote areas there may only be 1 AAA garage around for a 50 mile radius. You may have to wait HOURS to get any service or tow.

  2. Many toll roads don’t allow AAA on them…like the NYS thruway. The NYS Thruway authority will tow you to the nearest exit and HOPEFULLY a AAA will be near by.

I have towing on my insurance. Costs us $30/yr for all 3 vehicles. And I can use ANYONE I want to. I just have to pay for it upfront and then get reimbursed by my insurance company. Only had to use it once and it was nice and easy.

I swear by CAA (the Canadian version.) They guarantee the tow truck, if required, will be at your location in 45 minutes or less - in my experience, they get there in less than half an hour. They will also tow your vehicle to a garage of your choosing within 200 km.

The other benefits of CAA include free travel tips and material - I took a road trip out west a couple years ago, and got about $200 of free maps and books from CAA. I also got very cheap out-of-province health insurance ($40, I think, per month). Also, you get 4 free tows a year. At $60 a tow, the $70 membership fee is a bargain. So, yeah, I think CAA is a great coverage to have. I don’t know what I would have done without it.

If towing is all you want, your insurance policy add-on is probably the best buy. AAA, however, offers a host of services and discounts on many things like hotels and other vacation activities. You can get maps of just about anywhere and free pictures for your passport. I have found that the AAA rate is often the lowest at most hotels/motels. We live a couple of blocks from a AAA office and use them often for travel services. I have found their towing services prompt and courteous, but we live in a large city.

My battery died when I was in a parking lot, in winter. Southern Jersey winters are generally mild, but the night was a bit on the cold side. A good samaritan offered help (I already called AAA, but could have called to cancel the call). He must have connected the cables wrong on his car because the car would not start (Mental note: be rude…check the connections). And when the AAA guy showed up the car started up right away. Thank God I had AAA. I’ve had AAA for years now and can count the number of times I’ve needed it on one hand. I can also count using one finger the number of times I’ve had to rely on my auto insurance to pay for damages. It’s all depends on your driving patterns. If I broke down on one these southern Jersey roads I would want to have the assurance that I could call someone to get my car going.

I’ve been driving for nearly 40 years, and I’ve never had anything like AAA “coverage.” If I were to have a flat tire I would jack up the car and change the wheel. Most cars have spare tires. Those that don’t usually have run-flats.

When was the last time you had a flat, or a break-down on the road? The last time I had a car that didn’t make it home was in the 1980s. Of course, it could happen tomorrow on my trip, but I doubt it. I expect my 115,000 mile vehicle to complete the 500-mile round trip trouble free, as it has for the last two years.

You can get a better price for a tow by paying cash. Carry some spare cash in the car. Tow trucks arrive more quickly if you tell them you’re paying cash.

Personally, I don’t feel the need for any of these products.