Nobody likes to be broken down on the side of the road, but many find comfort in knowing they’re just one phone call away from having help on the way. Although the stigma around towing companies can be negative, especially to those who park in tow-away zones, these companies offer more services than impounding vehicles.
People may not realize that tow services can include more than transporting a vehicle from one place to another. The fees charged can depend on your circumstances, what services you need, where you live, and the tow company. However, there is enough consistency from one tow company to the next to get a general sense of the cost of a tow.
There are several reasons why you would need to call a towing service. If you are in an accident and your car is no longer driveable, or if it has mechanical problems which prevent it from being started, you will definitely need some help. Situations like that are unavoidable and inevitable. Often times, you can avoid needing a tow truck by being prepared. Maybe you’ve accidentally killed your battery by leaving your lights on? Keep a pair of jumper cables in the car. Likewise, make sure you have enough gas to get to your next destination or learn how to change a flat tire with a spare you always keep with you.
Services tow companies offer, other than towing, can include:
If you’ve ever been broken down on the side of the highway, waiting for a tow truck, you can understand how time seems to drag on. Depending on the time of day and where you’re located, waiting for a tow can last upwards of 50 minutes. On average, drivers report they wait around 35-40 minutes for their tow truck to arrive.
Keep in mind, depending on where you live and the demand of the towing company, you may have to wait longer. Usually, once a tow truck has been dispatched, they are able to give you a close-to-accurate waiting time.
While you wait, it’s important to keep your hazards on. Don’t forget to gather your belongings and have your ID ready to present. Don’t let strangers into your vehicle, and if you must leave your location, avoid getting into cars with strangers.
Car tows are common in the United States, and most drivers will find they need a tow at least once in their lifetime. Towing fees can be expensive if you don’t belong to a roadside assistance group or have roadside assistance included in your insurance plan.
According to Angie’s List, the national average cost of a tow is $109. For many people, that’s the same price as one month of utility payments. Exact rates vary by location, but a good estimate is $3-$7 per mile, after the initial “hook-up” fee, which can range from $50-100. If you wanted a ballpark estimate:
5-15 miles: $30-$100
50 miles: $100-$250
100 miles: $250 to $600
Another factor to consider in the cost of a tow is the time of day. After-hours towing typically starts at 8 or 9 p.m. and ends between 6–8 a.m. Each company’s after-hours service varies. Some companies’ additional cost is as low as $5. Others charge up to a $150 one-time fee. In cases like these, it’s a good idea to find a nearby mechanic, as it could really help reduce the overall cost.
Insurance or Roadside Assistance Memberships play a huge factor in what it’ll cost you out of pocket to get a tow. And more often than not, towing time can be shortened if you book through a company rather than calling and paying in full yourself. Roadside Assistance policies vary from company to company, but you can get coverage in dollar amounts or in mileage. You can get plans covering the first 50 miles or even the first $100. It is important to understand your coverage at the time you purchase a policy so you are not confused about how much is covered and what to do when you need a tow. Depending on the coverage, your tow could be free! The small, monthly payments you make pay off in the long run — especially when you’re unexpectedly stuck on the side of the road.
Normally, agents who answer your call when it’s time to use that road side assistance are very good about making sure you’re in a safe location and that help gets to you as soon as possible. The average response time of manufacturer-sponsored emergency roadside assistance programs is 48 minutes compared with 36 minutes among independent programs. Membership groups like AAA may also include perks such as jumps if your car battery dies, discounts on hotels and travel destinations, and even loans and banking services.
In the end, how long it takes for a tow truck to arrive isn’t nearly as important as how you prepare for it — before and during the unexpected situation. Get a good policy with a good roadside assistance program, have a small emergency fund saved up (just incase), and be prepared to grab your important items and exit the vehicle once help has arrived.
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07.01.20 - Darilyn Gallegos
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