Do You Tip Tow Truck Drivers and Roadside Assistance?

Key Takeaways:


      • Tipping roadside assistance isn’t necessary or expected

      • There’s no industry standard for the “right” amount

      • Tips can be based on the complexity of the job and the courtesy you’re shown

      • Not all towing or roadside service staff can accept tips

    Millions of motorists every year experience things like flat tires, worn-out batteries, and gas shortages. Some find their vehicles stuck in mud or snow or down in a ditch by the side of the road.

     The good news is that towing and roadside assistance teams are on call in every one of these cases to get people and vehicles back on their way – or at least to the nearest mechanic.

    Drivers are hugely relieved. Road teams are happy to help. The gratitude and goodwill may continue to spread when some drivers want to offer their saviors a little something extra in the form of a tip.

    It’s a generous and much-appreciated gesture, but do you tip tow truck drivers and roadside assistance the same way you would a taxi driver or restaurant wait staff?

    The answer is “yes and no,” but there’s no need for confusion. Here are some handy tips about tipping that will help you decide what’s best the next time you need roadside assistance services or light or heavy-duty towing. 

    Why Many Motorists Want to Tip Roadside Assistance

    The average tow truck driver in the United States makes $18.48 per hour, according to Indeed. Some roadside and towing personnel are paid a flat fee, others may receive a commission, while still others may be paid more or less, depending on their experience. The driver who helps you may be operating alone with a single truck, which means they’re really hustling to make ends meet.

    “$18.48 an hour?!” you might say. “That’s way above even the highest minimum wage in the U.S.!” There are some important things to remember before you picture road teams somersaulting into piles of money. 

    The first is that not every towing or roadside employee will get that. The second is that cars, bikes, and other vehicles don’t break down every hour on the hour, day and night, so there isn’t a certainty of consistent hourly work.

    That’s great for the public, but it also means that some road rescue teams will only get paid as-and-when their skills and services are needed. This could mean some lean paychecks during slow periods, which do happen frequently. 

    That’s one very good reason to tip. Some other reasons you might want to tip roadside assistance or tow truck personnel might be:

    -They Certainly Deserve One

    Road rescue teams are some of the hardest-working service people out there. They operate in all types of weather and often around the clock. Their duties often require them to work in very hazardous conditions, which could endanger their safety while protecting yours.

    -It’s Not as Normalized as in Other Professions

    No worthwhile roadside assistance or towing team will ever ask for a tip. They’re probably not expecting one, either, since they don’t work in a sector where it’s expected. This would make it a nice surprise to be offered one, even if it’s beyond their power to accept it (more information on that to come).

    -Knowing They’re Paid Already May Not Feel Enough

    Being helped – or maybe even saved – by a tow truck or roadside assistance service can mean a lot more to customers than a simple technical matter. Yes, road crews are paid, but how many services can make sure you get out of the rain, reach that job interview, or show up in time for the wedding?

    Towing or roadside help can make a dramatic difference to someone’s day and maybe even their future. This is one reason grateful customers aren’t satisfied with thinking, “No tip today, they’re paid already!”

    All these virtues would make anyone wonder why “do you tip tow truck drivers?” isn’t a more common question. It’s OK that it isn’t because helping people is very rewarding in its own right. 

    You may be one of those drivers who feels a little extra is warranted for that attitude alone. Here’s what you need to know if you’re itching to tip.

    The 5 Main Factors That Influence Tipping

    The desire to tip roadside assistance or other services is to your credit (no pun intended). However, you may already have had to spend a significant amount of money without further stressing your wallet. 

    You may also find it’s impossible for other reasons. Considering the following will help you make a more confident financial decision:

    1. Knowing Whether Tipping Is Permitted

    Several things can influence whether tips can be accepted. It may be against the company’s policy – some companies discourage tipping to prevent customers from feeling obligated or to prevent temptation on the part of their employees to do more or perform better for tippers.

    Other road teams may be employed by state or local authorities, in which case accepting a tip is tantamount to taking a bribe! They’ll refuse firmly – but don’t panic if you offer one in good faith. The authorities have bigger things to worry about than a misplaced act of kindness.

    2. How Insurance Factors In

    Your auto coverage may protect you against a certain amount of expense for roadside services or towing. This could mean the help you receive is effectively already paid for, which might make giving a tip feel easier. 

    There’s nothing in insurance plans that says you can’t tip your driver, so it’s once more at your discretion, assuming the driver’s company (and personal preference) allows it.

    3. The Price of Towing or Roadside Services

    Roadside assistance like tire replacement or jumpstarts is often very reasonably priced, which may comfortably allow for the possibility of a tip. Towing will be more expensive and especially if there are recovery services involved. 

    It’s therefore important to understand the 11 factors in tow cost estimates so you’re prepared for the possible outlay and maybe skipping that tip.

    4. The “How Big a Tip Is Appropriate?” Question

    You may be happy to add a tip to the price of the service but feel worried about under or over-tipping. The appropriate amount to offer is open to debate. The confusion compounds if you need major help like heavy-duty towing or winched from a ditch in the middle of the night. 

    There’s no right answer here, so go by your discretion based on the quality of service, the harshness of the conditions, and the courtesy you’re shown. Anything you offer will be appreciated. 

    There are two figures that might be helpful to use when calculating a tip for less complex services. The first is the classic “10 percent rule,” and the second is the national average price of towing services – currently $109 – but again, it’s entirely up to you. 

    5. Remember that You’re Under No Obligation

    You may strongly feel the need to tip as a “thank you” for the technician’s time and trouble if your roadside assistance is low-priced or even free (yes, that’s really possible) – you may be so grateful that you want to tip regardless of cost. 

    Don’t forget in either case that you don’t have to. The road crew will be satisfied with a job well done and any actual payment due.

    Your two-part takeaway is this: It never hurts to ask if it’s OK to tip roadside assistance or tow truck drivers, but only if you’re sure they’re licensed and legitimate operators. 

    Honest and professional teams will know and respect the rules and won’t abuse your generosity (or land either of you in trouble). The worst that can happen is your tip being gratefully refused.

    Our previous guide on six hallmarks of reliable companies will help you identify the right road teams to tip if you’d like to and if the situation allows. These are the crews who are insured, trained, and have an established reputation you can judge them by.

    Contact Geyers Towing and Recovery for Stress-Free Service

    You won’t have to wonder, “do you tip tow truck drivers?” when you give our experienced staff a call. We’re now in our thirtieth year of helping customers with vehicles and complaints of all kinds, from flat tires to full-on accidents and emergencies. 

    We’re in this business because we want to help people out of tough situations. We want our customers to feel like they’re part of our family and not alone out there when things go wrong.

    The Geyers Towing and Recovery team is fully licensed, trained, and insured and is available year-round whenever you need us. You can contact us any time by calling (301) 298-8519 for 24/7 roadside support. You can also visit our contact page for a fast and free quote!

    Common FAQs: Do You Tip Tow Truck Drivers?

    Tipping a tow truck driver is not required, but it is appreciated for exceptional service.

    Tipping is not necessary if your insurance fully covers the towing service. However, if you feel the driver went above and beyond, a tip is still a nice gesture.

    You can consider factors such as the timeliness of service, professionalism, friendliness, and any extra assistance provided when deciding whether to tip and how much to tip.

    Some towing companies may allow you to add a tip to your credit card payment or provide an electronic tipping option. You can inquire about these alternatives if you prefer not to use cash.

    Tipping is not expected, but it may be appreciated in situations such as extreme weather conditions, a difficult recovery, or when the driver provides exceptional service.

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