When & How to Call a Towing Company: The Steps You Need to Take

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    No one wants to need to call a towing company. You likely only think about doing so when you find yourself in an extremely inconvenient situation, but a tow truck is often the most practical option if you’re in an accident or unable to get your vehicle started. You can either have your car towed home, to a garage where it can be repaired, or to another location that’s convenient. 

    Emergencies happen when we least expect them, and preparation is key to getting through such situations smoothly. It’s important to know when to call a towing company as well as the steps you should take in these circumstances. This guide will provide you with all the information you need about when and how to call a towing company.

    When Should You Call for a Tow Truck?

    Calling a towing company is usually a last resort when you can’t get your vehicle started and there’s no other option but to call for help. The following are some situations when you might consider calling a towing company.

    woman with broken down car
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    1. Your Car Won’t Start

    There are a few things to do if you can’t get your car started or suddenly stops running. You can wait a few minutes and try starting it again. In some cases, the problem is a dead battery, and getting a jump will sometimes do the trick. It’s always a good idea to have a set of jumper cables in your trunk, or — if you really want to be prepared — to carry around a portable battery charger.

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    2. You Ran Out of Gas

    Running out of gas is another possible reason for stalling. Fill up your tank before taking a long trip in case you encounter an area without gas stations, and consider carrying a portable gas tank with a spare gallon or two. If you do find yourself on the road without gas, however, you have to deal with the situation: Calling for a tow truck is a safe option.

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    3. You Have a Flat Tire

    If you have a spare tire and a jack in your vehicle, you may be able to change the tire yourself. This isn’t always practical, though. You may have stalled in a place where it’s unsafe to work on your car, or the lug nuts may be too tight to loosen with hand tools. Worse yet, you may find yourself with a flat tire and no spare or no jack. In these cases, a tow truck company is your best solution.

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    4. You’ve Been in an Accident

    Everyone hopes they won’t get into an accident, but they do occur. The first priority is to make sure no one is hurt. If anyone needs medical attention, your first call should be for an ambulance. If the only damage is to your vehicle, however, you should call for towing.

    This is an important tip: You should never try to drive a damaged vehicle even if it seems possible. This could be dangerous, as a car that’s been damaged could catch fire or even explode. Call for a tow truck and let an expert assess the damage.

    What to Consider Before Calling for a Tow Truck

    Once you’ve determined your vehicle needs towing, you’re probably anxious to have it done as soon as possible. However, there are a few things you may need to do before you call a towing company, depending on the circumstances:

    exit car after your car flips over

    1. Consider your location.

    If your car won’t start in a parking lot or at a friend’s house, you have some time to look at it. On the other hand, if you’re on the highway or in the middle of a street, you need to get your vehicle out of the way as soon as possible.

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    2. Towing company or roadside assistance?

    If you have roadside assistance through your insurance company, you may be tempted to call them first, but you may be better off to call a towing company. Calling roadside assistance may increase your fees, so it’s better to reserve such calls for a true emergency. Roadside assistance is also limited to the person with the account. If you’re in someone else’s vehicle, your coverage won’t apply.

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    3. Safety first.

    If you’re in a potentially dangerous spot such as a street or highway, turn on your hazard lights, engage the emergency brake, and exit the vehicle. You and any passengers should find a safe place to make calls and wait for the tow truck.

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    4. Take pictures.

    If you’ve been in an accident, take pictures of the damage. You’ll want a few shots from different angles. If another vehicle was involved, take pictures of the other vehicle as well. It’s important to document any damage for insurance purposes or in case there are any civil or legal issues in the future.

    man taking pictures of a car after accident
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    5. Call your insurance company.

    It’s important to find out if your insurance company will cover the cost of towing. It may only cover specific towing providers, so you’ll want to find out who to call.

    couple planning on life insurance plan
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    6. Decide which towing company to call.

    If your insurance company doesn’t advise you which company to call, you need to do some quick research. You can choose a company based on its location and possibly customer reviews if you can find them.

    call a tow truck if your car flips over

    7. Ask for an estimate.

    You should always ask about the cost of towing. This will depend on the distance to be towed as well as the prices set by the company. It’s especially important to know the price if your insurance company won’t be covering the charge.

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    8. Ask about the towing method.

    There are two main ways that cars are towed: the hook and chain method, where your vehicle is hooked to a tow truck and pulled to the garage, or the flatbed method, where the vehicle is hoisted onto a truck and driven to the garage. The flatbed method is much safer and less likely to cause damage to your vehicle. If you have a choice, always ask for a flatbed.

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    9. Decide where to have your car towed.

    You’ll need to arrange where to have your vehicle towed. If you’re close to your house, you may want it towed to your home. If there’s a mechanical problem that needs attention, you may want to have it towed to a garage. If you’re in an unfamiliar area, you can ask the towing provider for a recommendation for a mechanic. In some cases, the company is also a mechanic and can provide help in this area.

    wallet

    9. Remove documents and valuables from your vehicle.

    Be sure to remove anything valuable, including documents, from your vehicle before it gets towed. While most towing companies are trustworthy, it’s never a good idea to leave anything important unattended in your vehicle. For one thing, there’s the time while you’re waiting for the tow truck. You most likely won’t be watching your vehicle every second.

    Payment by Check
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    10. Get a receipt.

    It’s crucial to get an original receipt from the towing company that states the service, time, and amount charged. This will be essential for documenting the charge with your insurance company. Make a copy as soon as possible, then submit the original to your insurance and have a copy for backup.

    If you follow these guidelines, you’ll have an easier time getting the service you need and avoiding problems in the future. It’s important to perform the above steps in the right order, though. For example, you don’t want to call a towing company and find out later that your insurance provider doesn’t cover the service. While it’s often a stressful situation, take a minute to focus and decide what you have to do before acting.

    Know When to Call a Towing Company

    A towing company can help make a difficult situation easier to get through. You may even want to research towing providers in your area before you have a problem so you know who to call if the need arises. Contact Geyers Towing today to speak with an expert about any towing or car maintenance tips questions you might have.

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