Nobody wants to find himself or herself stuck on the side of the road for any reason, but if you drive in major metro areas, odds are good you see it on a daily basis. I am a sucker for people who look like they need help, and have stopped many times to see if I could assist. The last time I did this, the driver had been in a hurry and ran out of gas in a fairly new car. He asked if I could give him a lift to a gas station and I asked him if he’d called roadside assistance? His reply was “I don’t think I have that”. He was driving a two-year old Camry, and a quick Google search revealed the phone number. He called and the ETA of the service provider was less than 10 minutes.
Often times, in the panic of a breakdown, we forget that we have roadside assistance included with just about every car sold in America today.
The time and mileage in which you are covered will vary, and that information is usually right on the window sticker of your car. As an example, the Chevy Malibu I am reviewing this week has roadside assistance for 5-years or 60,000 miles, the same as the powertrain coverage. Some automakers give you a specified time of coverage with unlimited miles. Since the time and mileage constraints vary greatly, search your automaker’s website for specific details.
So, what kinds of services are offered with your roadside assistance coverage?
Most of the instances involve running out of gas, unlocking your car if the keys are inside, giving you a jump start if your battery goes dead, and changing flat tires for you. Of course, that assumes you have some sort of spare tire, which many cars do not come with today.
If you have a car with advanced telematics and you have a problem, often your call for assistance is handled by a technician who may be able to offer troubleshooting tips in the case of a mechanical failure that prevents your car from running. Also, a lot of cars like these can be remotely unlocked by the person you speak to on the phone.
No matter what your trouble, it is a good idea to call your automaker’s roadside assistance phone number.
Some automakers cover trip reimbursement, will dispatch a tow truck if needed, and help you find lodging if you have a failure that requires a dealership to work on your car. Give the person you speak to all the information you can think of, including accurate location information. He or she will want your VIN, your license number, and the color of your car. Get as far off the road as you can, and if possible leave your emergency flashers on to protect you and make it easier to find your car.
Once the roadside coverage on your car expires, you can pursue other options.
AAA offers low-cost roadside assistance. Also check with your insurance provider, often they include free roadside assistance with your full coverage policy, and some credit card companies include this service as an added value for their cardholders.
Over the years, I have heard some bad stories from listeners about roadside assistance, but my personal experience with a number of different automakers roadside service has been exceptional.
They are generally friendly, quick, and even call you back to make sure their service person had arrived. Obviously, if you are way out of town in a remote area, it will take longer.
I often remind people to make sure you have a working cell phone and to carry a cigarette lighter charger in your glove box, otherwise you cannot make the call to roadside assistance.
One last thing: don’t put it off, research to see if you have roadside assistance coverage through your automaker, or some other source, and program the phone number into your cell phone. Once you have an emergency, it will be much more difficult to find the proper number, and there is no need to burn valuable cell phone battery while searching. Go over this information with your loved ones, too. It could save their lives.
Roadside Assistance Numbers:
Below are the roadside assistance numbers for every automaker I can find so you can go ahead and store the information in your phone, after you take a moment to verify the number for your car company is correct and hasn’t changed.