- Car Care & Maintenance
I Just Paid $87 a Gallon for Gas
Okay, This is Annoying...
(I wrote this section on my iPhone as I was sitting in my car. I LOVE TECH!)
I've used Allstate's roadside assistance program for the last two or three years now and paid about 80 bucks a year ($52 for the first year).
But when my membership expired a few months ago I decided not to renew it, because we were short on cash; I figured we could save a little money for the time being, and I would just renew it later.
Well that was a great idea, and I'm sure I saved plenty of money at first, until this morning when I ran out of gas in front of my son’s school.
So right now I'm sitting in my car on the side of the road, hoping I don't get a ticket for being illegally “parked”. I tried getting out to push, but with the power steering out, there's no way I can turn sharp enough to pull into the parking lot. And nobody stops to offer help (it's Vegas, so I can understand that). I called Allstate so they can send me a gallon of gas, and they charged my credit card $87 as a non-member. I'm not too happy about that, but with cars lining up behind me and horns honking and eyeballs glaring -- I caved in and agreed to pay. "JUST SEND THE GUY WITH SOME GAS!"
The local service provider, Pop-A-Lock, should be here within the next half hour or hour -- I don't even know for sure, because they haven't yet called to confirm their ETA like they normally would, and I'm just really irritated at myself for allowing this to happen.
Okay so five more minutes have passed and I just spoke with the tow company, and they are on the way. The dispatcher said that the driver should be here in about 11 minutes.
Dude shows up and puts in a little gas. Three minutes and we're done, so I head home and stop along the way to fill up my tank.
So what's the moral of the story here? I guess the lesson I learned is that I can pay 87 bucks or so for an annual membership with my motor club and get free or super-cheap towing and gas and such, or I can pay that same amount of money for one stinking gallon of gas and still be out of luck if it happens again (at least...until I can renew my membership).
Fortunately I'm in the city, close to home and not stranded 100 miles out into the desert.
How To Choose A Good, Reliable, Affordable Emergency Roadside Assistance Program
Still don't think it's a big deal to go without?
How about this...
It’s 5:18 am and you’re going to be late for work. You grab your coat, your bag, and your keys and run out to the car. You get in your car, turn the key and…nothing. You turn the key again…nothing.
You don’t have a portable jumpstart in the trunk, and there's nobody around at 5:00 in the morning to ask for a jump. Remember all that junk mail you always get from the auto club and from your insurance company? If you had signed up for one of those Auto Roadside Assistance Programs before you actually needed it, then you’d be on the road in less than an hour.
What Is Emergency Roadside Assistance?
Roadside assistance providers offer a variety of services to help those drivers who are stranded alongside the road, the freeway, or even in their own driveway. Some cities even have free emergency roadside services with tow trucks patrolling the freeways to help get those stalled cars out of the way.
But for most drivers (even the ones who live in areas with free roadside assistance), signing up for their own service plan is the way to go. These services typically include some free gas (1-3 gallons or so), a jumpstart, a flat tire change, or a free tow (within a certain number of miles). They can even pop open a locked door if you locked your keys inside.
Are Vehicle Coverage And Driver Coverage Offered?
There are two basic ways that your roadside assistance plan can be set up. The coverage can follow the driver himself or the coverage can follow the vehicle, regardless of who’s behind the wheel when it breaks down. Not all providers will offer both options, though, so consider which option is best for you and then make sure to shop around to get the best roadside assistance plan for your needs. For drivers who use multiple vehicles, obviously the driver-follow option would be best. But for families who all share the same vehicle, the vehicle-follow plan would be ideal.
Whichever plan you choose, do be sure that the provider offers 24-Hour Roadside Assistance and not just service within a limited schedule. Will they come change your flat tire at midnight on Christmas Eve? They better…
What Additional Benefits Are Offered?
Besides the standard emergency roadside services, many program providers also offer additional benefits like travel discounts on flights, hotels and car rentals. Some will also offer free maps and guidebooks for planning out your next family vacation.
Who Is The Best Roadside Assistance Provider?
Now that’s a tough question to answer! I’ve used auto club roadside assistance plans in the past, but I now simply get the service through my insurance company, Allstate. It’s a little more convenient for me that way, but I have to admit that I didn’t shop around and compare rates and services. You can receive emergency roadside assistance benefits from an auto club like AAA or from your insurance company, and some car owners got their roadside assistance directly from the car dealer when they bought their new car. I've also used AAA in the past, because that's what my dad always did. I don't remember ever having to use them, though. But I do remember that we could always go down to their office and get free maps. That was cool, I guess.
Anyway, if you’ve already got it, you might be interested to know that some roadside assistance providers will actually pay you or offer a discount for switching over to them from your current provider! And if you don’t have any assistance plan yet, then you might want to look into it…before you need it.
Seriously, the cost only works out to like $5-$7 a month or whatever to get some kind of assistance program. That's worth it. I cheaped out to save some money. Sometimes you can do that and it goes okay, but once you get stung like I just did, you feel stupid and realize that the risk isn't always worth it.
DIY: Driver...Assist Thyself!
It's not always going to be necessary or ideal to rely 100% on your roadside assistance provider. Many situations can be handled yourself, if you have the resources at hand.
And of course, some of us don't want help from anybody, and that's okay too.
Below are some useful items to have in your vehicle, whether you're signed up with a roadside assistance company or not...
- Spare tire, jack and crowbar
- Tubeless tire sealer/inflater
- Gas can with nozzle (filled or empty)
- Portable battery jumpstarter
Teen Driver Series...
This article is for information purposes and should not be interpreted as a recommendation to buy any insurance product, or to provide financial or legal advice. Articles on this website are copyrighted material and cannot be reproduced in any form without the author's written permission.