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Best Roadside Assistance Services

by Lauren Fix Auto & Finance Contributing Editor

Roadside assistance services come to your aid in a variety of car-related situations, including flat tires, lockouts, fuel shortages or mechanical failures. Use our guide to research the best roadside assistance service for you. Companies offer different types of coverage, so it's essential to choose a membership thoughtfully. We explain what to look for in benefits and what to expect in fees.

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What features matter most?

Fee

This is the cost incurred for enrolling in a roadside assistance plan. Most roadside assistance companies bill annually, although there are certain providers that bill monthly or even per incident. Reading the fine print is important.

  • Surcharges or discounts: Some roadside assistance plans levy surcharges the first time you enroll while others offer discounts to first-time users.
  • Refund: Certain providers let car owners opt out of a plan within a stipulated time-frame with a full money-back guarantee, though some companies give a pro-rated refund even after the first month of the plan has lapsed.
  • Extra cost for more drivers: Some plans ask vehicle owners to pay extra if they want to add more family members to the plan or add more vehicles.

Coverage

Coverage of a plan can vary in terms of availability (such as 24/7 assistance), the number of vehicles or drivers covered and the kind of vehicles covered. When comparing coverage between plans, there are several other factors that need to be considered as well.

  • Number of service calls: Check the number of free service calls included in the plan. Consumers might have to incur expenses when they have reached their limit. Some providers even bar people from premium plans the following year in case service calls are exceeded.
  • Lockout: A roadside assistance plan that covers lockout incidents saves time and expenses that would have to be spent on a locksmith or a tow.
  • Number of services covered: Common services in roadside assistance plans include fuel delivery, flat tire repairs and towing (typically with a tow truck).

Towing

Most roadside assistance plans come with a towing service. However, terms and conditions differ according to pricing and provider.

  • Mileage limit: Having a car towed further than the allowed limit in a plan attracts charges, which are billed per mile. It may also limit your options for repair facilities, as there may be a deal with a certain auto repair shop. It's important to know the facts on mileage and additional costs.
  • Choice of destination: There are some plans that limit towing to the nearest authorized dealership or repair shop only.
  • Calamity coverage: Towing assistance in roadside assistance plans also differs depending on whether the plan covers calamities such as fire and flood.
  • Type of tow vehicle: A tow truck may be ok for most vehicles, but all-wheel drive vehicles and sports cars require a flat-bed truck. This could be an extra cost.

Availability of service

Roadside assistance providers often contract local tow truck operators and repair shops. Usually, the wider the network of local service providers, the better the response time. Availability of service between plans also differs by:

  • Overseas availability: Certain roadside assistance companies have a network of providers outside the U.S.
  • Areas covered: Some states in the U.S. only allow contracted service providers to offer roadside assistance on certain highways. Roadside assistance plans typically have limited liabilities in such cases, where consumers are refunded for costs incurred up to a predefined limit.
  • 24/7 assistance: Not all plans come with 24/7 assistance. However, if a vehicle owner makes a lot of trips at odd hours, a plan with 24/7 roadside assistance might be a top priority.

Frills

A lot of roadside assistance companies offer extra benefits to consumers, apart from basic services like towing, flat tire repair and fuel delivery.

  • Discounts: Service providers have partnerships with lodges, car rentals, amusement parks, travel discounts and repair shops where plan holders are entitled to discounts.
  • Trip interruption insurance: This typically covers any expenses incurred on lodging, food and transport in case of an accident or vehicle problem. Usually, there is a limit to the reimbursement amount.
  • Repair warranties: If a car is serviced or repaired at an authorized repair shop, the plan holder gets a limited-time warranty on the repairs.
  • Trip planning tools: A lot of roadside assistance annual plans come with handy trip planning tools that give consumers an estimate of gas consumption, construction zones and the most economical route to take and other helpful advice.

Reputation

Other people's experiences matter when choosing roadside assistance services. They are needed in emergency situations, which means response time is critical. Other factors affect the reputation of a service provider too.

  • Paperwork involved: Check if the roadside assistance company offers free services upfront or if reimbursement claims have to be made later.
  • Customer service: A good roadside assistance provider will be swift addressing customer complaints.

What are different types of roadside assistance services?

Full-service offerings

These are typically annual plans that cover more than one driver or more than one vehicle. They may even cover a car not owned by you, such as a friend’s vehicle you are borrowing.

Basic plans

These cover basic roadside assistance, such as towing and fuel delivery. They usually have very limited free towing miles.

Premium plans

Some roadside assistance services include additional benefits such as discounts on lodgings, travel and coverage for vehicles like RVs and motorcycles.

Limited service calls

Roadside assistance services also differ according to number of service calls consumers can make in a year. More expensive services tend to come with unlimited service calls throughout a year.

Who's it for?

Families with multiple drivers

These are families in which both partners drive and/or there are dependents with a legal driving license.

Multiple-car owners

These are people who either own more than one car or frequently depend on car rentals for their transportation needs.

Frequent vacationers

This group comprises people who often take road trips and those who spend a lot of time on the road while on business.

Adventurers

They like to explore off-road destinations and often own multiple vehicle types such as RVs or motorbikes in addition to a car, truck or SUV.

Roadside assistance services FAQ

How can I get free roadside assistance?
Free roadside assistance is rare. However, many people are surprised to learn it is included with certain purchases from these types of companies: Even if you do have roadside assistance through a separate purchase, be aware that the plan may not be as comprehensive as one you buy from a dedicated roadside assistance company.
How much does road service cost?
Roadside assistance programs cost anywhere from $35 to $150 per year for a single driver. Having multiple drivers increases these costs, but not as much as each driver buying an individual plan.

Most roadside assistance providers offer multiple levels of coverage, so it’s important to compare plans and decide what you really need before you sign up. More expensive plans usually come with:

  • Longer towing ranges
  • Higher limits on emergency services
  • Additional offerings, like free fuel delivery or discounts
Who can I call for roadside assistance?
If you’re a member of a roadside assistance program, call its emergency number to get help. If you don’t have access to a roadside assistance plan, call a local towing company and ask if it provides the services you need.
Is roadside assist worth it?
Yes, a roadside assistance plan is worth it to most drivers. You should definitely consider buying a roadside assistance plan if: Some roadside assistance programs also provide discounts on unrelated products, which can help offset the expense of the plan.
How much does a jump-start cost?
If your car needs a jump-start and you don’t have the means to do it yourself, expect to pay $50 to $100 for a tow truck company to help you out.
Does insurance go up for roadside assistance?
If your roadside assistance program is through your car insurance company, making frequent calls for help could raise your insurance rates. However, making one or two calls per year is unlikely to draw any attention from your insurer.
Is there a limit to roadside assistance?
Yes, depending on your roadside assistance plan, there may be limits to the:
  • Number of service calls you can make
  • Maximum towing distance
  • Service coverage
If you’re shopping for roadside assistance, compare these limits on different providers’ plans.
Do you need insurance for roadside assistance?
No, you can get roadside assistance from a provider other than your insurance carrier. However, if you do choose to buy roadside assistance through your insurer, you may have to maintain a higher level of coverage, like collision or comprehensive insurance.

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    What does the author have to say?

    AAA - American Automobile Association

    Founded in 1902, AAA is a group of 69 affiliated motor clubs in North America. They have locations in every state and many countries. They offer 24-hour roadside assistance, including assistance for international members in the U.S.

    Read more about AAA - American Automobile Association
    OnStar

    This roadside assistance service comes bundled with GM vehicles. However, consumers can also buy the service separately for their vehicles through OnStar's For My Vehicle (FMV) service.

    Read more about OnStar
    Good Sam Roadside Assistance

    Known for its roadside assistance services for RVs, boat trailers and motorbikes, apart from standard passenger vehicles, Good Sam Roadside Assistance offers support in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

    Read more about Good Sam Roadside Assistance
    Paragon Motor Club

    Founded more than 25 years ago, Paragon Motor Club offers 24/7 emergency roadside assistance services, including those geared toward commercial and business vehicles.

    • Tracks members: The service is member-dependent rather than vehicle-dependent.
    • 24-hour towing: The club offers 24/7 towing support, with a towing radius of up to 100 miles depending on the plan.
    • Stolen-vehicle compensation: If a vehicle is a stolen more than a 100 miles away from home, the service pays up to $1,000 for expenses such as transportation.
    • Dual payment options: Consumers can pay monthly or annually, with discounts available for annual memberships.
    • A free adult: Membership to the club comes with roadside assistance coverage for one additional adult.
    Allstate Motor Club

    Allstate was founded in 1931 as an auto insurance company and has since  diversified to include roadside assistance. The company has been providing roadside assistance for more than 50 years.

    • Pay as you go assistance: Allstate's Good Hands assistance lets vehicle owners pay for assistance on a per incident basis.
    • One free adult included: All membership plans of the service cover one additional adult free of charge.
    • Corporate social responsibility: The company has strong corporate social responsibility ethics, which include setting up Purple Purse, which helps victims of domestic violence, and actively working to reduce teen car crashes.
    • On-time arrival guarantee: The service guarantees assistance within 30 minutes of a breakdown. In case of failure, vehicle owners get a discount on subsequent year's membership.
    • Range of vehicles covered: Allstate has membership plans for cars, vans, light trucks and RVs.
    BP Motor Club

    Established more than 40 years ago, BP Motor Club offers 24/7 roadside assistance. The motor club has three membership plans and offers support in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

    • Free adult coverage: Each plan comes with free coverage for an adult in the family.
    • Tracks members: Members can take advantage of benefits regardless of the vehicle they are driving.
    • Trip planning service: BP Motor Club offers Pathfinder Trip Routing Service to its members, which helps with directions, information about detours and estimates for trip expenses.
    • Discounts on rentals: Members of BP Motor Club get discounts on car and truck rentals on weekdays as well as weekends.
    • Dispatch guarantee: The service has dispatch guarantee on towing services. Members get reimbursements on expenses incurred if a tow truck cannot be found.
    AutoVantage

    AutoVantage is an emergency roadside assistance service that provides support in all 50 states. The company has a network of more than 15,000 service providers and more than 25 years of experience in the field.

    • Impressive tow radius: The service offers a 150-mile tow radius to members.
    • One plan for the entire family: AutoVantage has one roadside assistance plan for the entire family, which makes is simple and convenient.
    • Auto discounts: Members get discounts on car repairs and maintenance at repair shops across the country.
    • Concierge service: AutoVantage has a 24-hour concierge service, which helps members with travel plans.
    • Travel deals: Members get discounts on several car rentals and lodgings.
    National Motor Club

    Established as an independent motor club in 1956, National Motor Club is a Texas-based roadside assistance service that offers support for multiple vehicle types, including RVs and motorbikes.

    • No extra cost for different vehicle types: The service's membership plans come with coverage for cars, motorbikes and RVs, without additional charges.
    • Easy installments: Consumers can pay for membership plans in monthly installments.
    • Travel interruption compensation: National Motor Club reimburses members for up to $100 for expenses incurred on food, lodgings or transport due to travel interruption.
    • Discounts: Members get discounts on automobile repairs, car rentals, hotels and pharmacy purchases.
    • Extended warranty on repairs: Active National Motor Club members get extended warranty on common personal vehicle repairs such as air conditioning, emission control systems, wheel bearings and electrical systems. Be sure to read the details as warranties on car repairs can be complicated.
    AutoRoadService.com

    Established in 1979, Auto Road Service is a New York-based roadside assistance service that offers support for residents in the U.S. and Canada.

    • Free coverage for an adult: The service's membership plan comes with free coverage for an additional adult in the family.
    • Assistance for multiple vehicle types: The membership plan covers roadside assistance for cars, SUVs, non-commercial trucks, motorbikes and RVs.
    • Multiple payment options: Vehicle owners can pay monthly, annually or make an upfront payment for several years at a time.
    • Discounts on hotels: Members can enjoy discounts on rooms at more than 12,000 hotels across the country, including premium chains like Marriott and Sheraton.
    • Trip planning assistance: Members of Auto Road Service get access to online trip planning tools that help with the best routes and hotel recommendations.
    by Lauren Fix Auto & Finance Contributing Editor

    Lauren Fix, also called The Car Coach, is an automotive and auto finance expert. Her understanding of vehicles has made her the “go to” person on TV, radio, print media and the Internet. She has authored multiple books and writes a column for several outlets, including Parade Magazine, NewsMax and Car Coach Reports. She is a regular guest on major news and morning shows, discussing the latest updates on cars and car financing that will help drivers make smart decisions when buying, maintaining and financing cars.

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