I have a membership in the National General Motor Club in case I need roadside assistance. I have read to get faster service when a tow is needed, skip the auto clubs and arrange for a tow yourself and pay cash. Or use a smartphone app, like HONK Towing & Roadside Assistance. If you’ have used an alternative to an auto club for roadside service, how did it go?
I had a reimbursement rider on my auto insurance that paid my tow for many, many years. I had so few tows over that time, I no longer carry it.
My smartphone can find a local tow service wherever I break down. I can find a well rated independent auto shop off that same smartphone to tell the tow truck driver where to take my car.
Just for grins… one breakdown, pre-cellphones, in Kentucky, at 9:30 at night, wearing dark clothes, driving a company car with 500 miles on it, at least a mile from the nearest house, in the winter. Walked to the nearest exit, flagged down a tow truck rolling up the ramp to pick up a Cadillac with 2 curbed, flat tires. Took my car to a dealer that gave me a loaner.
Next breakdown… Driving my Corvette past a local prison. again, pre-cellphone. The car loses power steering, coolant temp jumps up and the alternator light comes on. Yep, serpentine belt popped off… because the alternator locked up and the belt burned the pulley right off. Sitting there with the hood up waiting for the car to cool so I could limp it into town, a tow truck rolls up and takes me to a local shop for repair.
I use the Ford road asistance and it works great for me. had a flat tire once and they took me to the service in less than an hour
I haven’t needed it often, but when I did, the truck came within 20 minutes. I have a rider on my auto insurance policy, and it’s costs $10 per year.
The problem with these auto clubs is find a tow operations that uses the club you have. AAA is by far the largest and even they’re not in many areas.
I bought a tow rider through my insurance company (far cheaper then AAA). I call anyone I want and then submit a claim to my insurance company.
I had AAA for many years. Roadside service was hit or miss with them. Sometimes they would hit their estimated arrival time. Other times you would wait for hours beyond the estimated time. I have only used the National General Motor Club roadside service twice. Once they were prompt. The second time the towing company they arranged to meet me canceled the tow without informing me or the auto club. That is what prompted my question about how to always or mostly always get prompt roadside service.
Had to get a jump a few days ago, I don’t think it matters if you or the club calls, they put you on the list, weather you call directly or the club calls. You might find a company other than the preferred company that could do it sooner, will it be covered I do not know. It took about 2 hours, though they did ask if we were warm and safe indicating to me there is a priority for people stranded in need of faster service. They came within 5 minutes of estimated time
I carry spare parts and tools, including a booster pack. I’ve never needed a tow. I used to drive far up dirt roads in national forests where AAA wouldn’t serve anyway; I used to live on a road AAA wouldn’t go on. When I lived in California their affiliate had the lowest insurance, less than half the next-cheapest; because I never made a claim I got a rebate every year too. Road-side service and maps were gravy.
The few time’s i’ve needed AAA they’ve been quick to respond, but then i’m right in town and they have a couple companies on contract.Even after 9:00 at night. With about 1ft of snow on the ground at the moment here all bets are off as far as response time. Since folks keep sliding off the road or getting stuck.
Speed is based on closeness to tow company. A dozen tows in 5 years due to my car buying hobby in Minneapolis has taught me. Break down on heavily travelled road in city might help
All my tows but 1 have been from houses.
we once had a subpar experience getting the insurance companies tow coverage to tow our minivan 5mi to the repair shop so went back to AAA afterwards with not a single issue. My brother once had to have his car towed from the Mt Baker ski resort which would have cost 3-4 Times the top level membership for that one tow if it hadn’t been covered by AAA.
The auto clubs and insurance companies arrange the tow, but once they do, it’s up to the towing company to follow through. It is somewhat out of the auto club and insurance company’s hands, no matter what kind of promises they have made to the consumer. This article by Popular Mechanics magazine, Who Really Provides Your Roadside Assistance?, was kind of an eye-opener. It seems like much of the roadside assistance offered by varous organizations is provided by just a few firms.
OK , I read the link. So what ? No road side service can have a truck in every location a driver might be in . The vehicle breaks down and it needs towed . As long as it towed who cares who does it. I have the 5 year road side plan on one of my vehicles and I don’t expect the truck to show up with a Ford logo on it’s door. Sometimes they show up quick and sometimes not . I have had both under the same AAA plan .
Just choose a plan or do like I do on the other vehicle just have it towed and ask the insurance for reimbursement . Life is not fair so you just take what it gives you.
So I did not mind waiting, but daughter put gas in the car and it would not restart, So I went to the auto parts store bought a jump start thing for $70 and went and got her going. 2 to 3 hours, wait for roadside service, another toy I may never use again, but worth it to get my daughter moving,
My brother had AAA for years until one year he was on vacation and needed a tow. The CLOSEST AAA company was well over 200 miles away and would take them 5+ hours to get there. This was at 10pm at night, so he wouldn’t see the guy until 3am at the earliest.
I wonder how much the “club” or “membership” roadside assistance model will be upended by smartphone applications like HONK. The concept has been described as Uber for roadside assistance. You enter your location and the type of assistance you require, and service providers place bids and provide estimated arrival times for providing the help you need. You pick the provider who best fits your needs.
You won’t get the group pricing as you would with AAA, but you have more control over who provides the service and in what timeframe they arrive.
That was in the early 2000’s and he was one of six or so to need a tow back to town after snow went far enough into the exhaust system’s so that when they stated their cars the engine jumped time, thankfully his Jetta only needed a new timing belt and to be retimed and not a new engine like a few others. One year he had to have thanksgiving dinner with the rest of the crew because the snow had piled up to the roof of his '86 Jetta, got the car out the next day.
I once waited just short of 4 hours to be towed about 3 miles to my terminal. Happened about 4 in the afternoon on a summer day. Truck had been acting up because of re gen issues. Went to limp mode and would only idle for a few seconds at a time. Too many big busy intersections to cross or I would have idled it home