Roadside Assistance
August 18, 2004 1:50 AM   Subscribe

This thread got me thinking. Anyone have a favorite roadside assistance service I can buy for my daughter? She has a cellphone, but who would she call if she was stranded several hundred miles away?
posted by dglynn to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total)
My friend swears these people offer excellent service.
posted by the cuban at 2:58 AM on August 18, 2004

check your cell phone provider out. mine offers nationwide roadside assistance for ~$3 a month. I have never had to use it, but makes me warm and happy inside knowing that it is available for my wife if she needs it.
posted by busboy789 at 3:37 AM on August 18, 2004

It might be the obvious answer, and some people don't like them (don't know why but I'm sure you'll hear about it here) but I've always had excellent service from AAA. Plus, it's a national service, which is nice; I used it 500 miles away from home once with no problems.
posted by boomchicka at 4:00 AM on August 18, 2004

I use the AA. The RAC are older, I believe, but Green Flag are newer. They're all cheap-ish, and all are UK based.

Where are you?
posted by dash_slot- at 4:11 AM on August 18, 2004

The RAC or Britania Rescue works for me.
posted by twine42 at 5:49 AM on August 18, 2004

AAA has saved my ass a number of times. It's fairly inexpensive, and hey - free maps! Plus travel discounts.
posted by mimi at 5:51 AM on August 18, 2004

I'm also a AAA fan. My only beef is how long it takes for the truck to arrive :\
posted by Hankins at 6:06 AM on August 18, 2004

AAA all the way.
posted by mhaw at 6:23 AM on August 18, 2004

I'm with Britannia Rescue. Cheaper than Direct Line, especially as I'm a member of the CSMA.
posted by salmacis at 6:25 AM on August 18, 2004

some people don't like them (don't know why but I'm sure you'll hear about it here)

Well, the reason I've heard for some people not liking them is that they lobby Congress for measures that make it easier to own and drive automobiles, which means more roads, lower gas mileage standards, etc.

Assuming that your daughter is on the same continent as you (your user page shows Urbana, Illinois), then I think AAA or its Canadian affiliate CAA are your best bets.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:38 AM on August 18, 2004

AAA is pretty expensive if you just want your membership for the roadside services. They offer other services that make it somewhat more attractive at the price -- vehicle registration, the free maps, that kind of stuff -- but if all you want is tow/gas/flat/lock service, a barebones plan from your cell phone provider or a credit card issuer is cheaper and may get help sooner.

I've heard from more than one tow operator that they will prioritize AAA dispatch calls last, because they're the least profitable. Apparently AAA isn't particularly good about actually paying the tow operator's invoice. This might explain why every AAA assistance call I've seen had a waiting time of over an hour.
posted by majick at 7:09 AM on August 18, 2004

I've been a AAA member for probably 15 years now and they have gotten me out of many a jam. It's worth the extra coin for AAA+ which will get you 100 free miles of towing instead of "towing to your nearest garage". They will also send a locksmith if you lose your car keys at the airport, help pull your truck out from almost being driven into a lake, mess with your alternator if it's making a funny noise, cash a check for services if you don't have a cash and the tow guys won't take credit cards, change a tire, bring you gasoline, give you traveler's checks for free [or, at cost]. You can use them up to four times a year with no surcharge other than the $70-80 it costs to join as a AAA+ member. Compare that the the cost of unsubsidized towing and it adds up quick. I'm finally getting to the point where I don't hit the "four times a year" mark every year. They also give free maps, Tour Books [hotel and restaurant guides, a bit dull but totally functional] and Camp Books [campgrouns, organized by town/city]. My experience is really different than majicks -- when I was stranded in crap weather on the side of the road, they came fairly quickly. When I was at home with a flat or a dead battery, they were definitely pokier.

Other people recommend the Better World Club which is like AAA except "greener" You can read about them on their page. I have no personal experience with them. AAA is also reciprocal with CAA which means your daughter is covered in Canada as well.
posted by jessamyn at 7:17 AM on August 18, 2004

Response by poster: Gack! Inadvertent US-centricity much, Dave? Yes, the question was referring to services offered in North America.

Looks like good old AAA is still the standard, and the Plus service mentioned by Jessamyn totals out to $84/yr, which seems reasonable. I'd be willing to pay more for a guaranteed rapid-response team, with a tow truck and a van full of armed guards, but apparently, that's not available, yet.

The daughter has been known to drive to FL to visit Grandma before, and those comments on breaking down in FL in the thread mentioned above caused me to want to buy a service with helicopter monitoring of stranded members.

Thanks all.
posted by dglynn at 8:50 AM on August 18, 2004

jessamyn, thanks for mentioning better world club. I knew there was a non-evil AAA equivalent, and my AAA membership just went up. I've been swearing I would ditch them when I found out about their lobbying efforts to put in new roads and eliminate bike lanes, so this is perfect timing.
posted by mathowie at 9:33 AM on August 18, 2004

AAA bailed my ass out just today. Truck arrived in 15-20 minutes, gave me a jump, and I was on my way.
posted by beth at 7:18 PM on August 18, 2004

Car insurance usually has a "come get my happy ass" provision that you can add for a nominal ($20) fee. I swear by the USAA roadside assistance. Over the years they've bailed me out of all kinds of interesting scrapes, including once when I threw a rod at 2am on a Saturday night, about a zillion miles from anywhere I wanted to be. They had a local driver come tow me to an open gas station while they were sending a flatbed trailer and driver to get me and drive me the 2+ hours back to Dallas.

Total cost to me: I bought breakfast when we got back to civilization. (Well, it seemed only polite.) Roadside service contracts, as long as it's from a reputable provider are worth the annual's a good safety net.
posted by dejah420 at 7:48 PM on August 18, 2004

Sorry it's not bike or green friendly but AAA has saved me and lovely daughter and hapless hubby many, many times. The 100-mile towing premium turned out be well worth the price when lovely daughter's timing belt broke outside of San Jose and she was towed all the way to Petaluma, where we met her and replaced it (in an Albertson's parking lot!). Then there was the time...,well you get the picture, I'm sure.
posted by Lynsey at 9:07 PM on August 18, 2004

In Texas the driver’s license has a state provided road side service # posted on the back.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:05 PM on August 23, 2004

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