Best roadside assistance company?
June 8, 2017 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Are all the roadside assistance companies about the same or are any outstanding?

I have AAA. Recently due to car trouble, I was stranded about an hour and 15 minutes from home. (Turned out to be a gas line leak.) It was already 11pm local time when I called, and, after about 30 minutes, AAA called me back to tell me they don't service that area, they would call a 3rd party company for me, and I could be sitting there for up to 2 1/2 hours. It ended up being about that amount of time.

I know many cell phone providers offer roadside assistance and I'm just wondering if anyone else may have been able to offer me better service, as in, not leaving me in a strange place late at night for several hours. I'm in northwest Indiana, and my trip was 2 hours east of here. My car does have the ability to use OnStar, but I have no experience with their roadside assistance, it's 4x the price of AAA, and I'm not comfortable with their tracking my location. (Let's not make this a discussion about location privacy, whether they can track me even if I don't subscribe, etc. I know.)
posted by IndigoRain to Travel & Transportation around Indiana (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I like Better World Club (sorry I can't link on my iPad). Ive been pleased with their service, and they're way better politically. AAA does all sorts of eco-unfriendly lobbying In the name of their members.
posted by FencingGal at 3:05 PM on June 8, 2017

A lot of times you can add roadside assistance to your car insurance. Service varies from company to company, but that would be another thing to research, because it's usually super-cheap to add.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:17 PM on June 8, 2017

Rabbitrabbit, quick note that AAA is our auto insurance. Best price we could find.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:43 PM on June 8, 2017

Last time we used our insurance company - basically they contract with someone who has contracted with a network of towing companies - they called around to find someone available to help us. The wait was an hour in a big city on a Sunday dinner time. So, not probably not an improvement over AAA.

A couple of credit cards also offer a towing service (I don't know how the cost compares) but I imagine it works in the same way - contracts with someone who contracts with the local companies. If you are already waiting for AAA, you might call and see if they can any better.
posted by metahawk at 3:51 PM on June 8, 2017

Most services use the same exact garages and tow companies as aaa, which only has its own trucks in a few cities. I am on record in prior asks as asserting that AAA is a major rip off, and you are often much better advised to buy roadside service coverage from your insurance company or your car manufacturer.

PS One reason I hate AAA is they made an elderly relative wait three hours, in New York City. Total bullshit. Your experience is not unusual.
posted by spitbull at 4:45 PM on June 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have roadside assistance with Progressive insurance. In Kansas City, Kansas (or else Kansas City, Missouri--I was on a bridge--but in any case it's not like I was out in BFE) I got a flat and couldn't budge the lug nuts for love or money. This was a Saturday evening IIRC. I called the roadside assistance number and got the very distinct impression that the person I spoke to was flipping through the phone book looking for a nearby towing service. While I was waiting for her to flip flip flip, a cop came by and helped me, so I hung up. I was decidedly unimpressed.
posted by scratch at 6:12 PM on June 8, 2017

You might check into the firms that specialize in RV roadside assistance, such as Coach-Net, Good Sam, FMCA. I used Coach-Net when I was a fulltime RVer and they were great. Lots of RVers have either vehicle pulling a travel trailer or being towed behind, so these firms must be able to help them. Good luck. And stay away from AAA—I, too, have had bad experiences with them.
posted by MovableBookLady at 7:08 PM on June 8, 2017

Odd. We've had AAA (the roadside assistance service, not car insurance) for years and have never had a bit of trouble.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:58 PM on June 8, 2017

Depends on how closely you're located to a tow truck at the time. I've had good luck calling AAA when I had car troubles in my town (within a hour response at the max, usually it's shorter), but last weekend I was with my relatives when their car broke down about an hour-ish from home and it took 2 hours for AAA to find a tow truck that was driving back in their direction. I'm not sure if that's a problem that's going to be helped by switching services since as someone else said, the issue is locating a contractor to pick you up.

Though other things we learned this weekend: (a) if you have more than two people in the car, this will be a problem for the tow truck guy, and (b) if you call 911, they will send a cop out to look out for you until the tow truck driver comes out. This worked out well because while the tow truck driver wouldn't take us all, the cop gave me a ride in the cop car :)
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:33 PM on June 8, 2017

I am very very happy with the roadside assistance through Progressive (subcontracted to Agero). I recently had car trouble 50 miles down a gravel road, out of cell range, far from help and any major metropolitan area. While we got out on our own, once we called for a tow, the people on the phone were quite helpful and the tow company they found was super professional.

I also got a pretty speedy tow from Progressive when my old Mercedes caught on fire.

I used to have AAA but dropped them after they charged me a LARGE overage fee for needing a tow right after getting a failed jump-start. The tow truck hadn't even left the parking lot after the jump, but AAA insisted it was a separate incident.

I tried Better World Club for a few years but they gave me a 6-hour window for a tow on a winter day and told me I had to wait at the car because the tow company wouldn't call to let me know they were on my way.

I used Chevy's OnStar last winter and they were extremely rude. They also insisted that I stay with the car even though the heat didn't work in the car and my home was but a few miles away.
posted by MonsieurBon at 9:50 AM on June 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

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