Towing vs. Roadside Assistance: What’s the Difference?

In 2015, AAA alone reported rescuing more than 32 million drivers across America whose cars had broken down.

As convenient as owning a car is, they will inevitably break down at some point. When this happens, it’s good to know what your options are.

Two of the most-used options are towing and roadside assistance. But what’s the difference between these two? Many people think they’re the same thing.

To help you make the best decision, we’ll explain the differences between towing vs roadside assistance. Continue reading to find out what they are.

What is Towing?

Towing means your car is transported from one spot to another. This is done on the back of a special flatbed tow truck. Generally, this is reserved for when a vehicle is no longer running.

Vehicles might be towed in other circumstances, even if they run properly.

If someone is arrested or the police state the driver isn’t allowed to move the vehicle, a tow truck company might move the vehicle instead. Some use tow services after purchasing a new vehicle so they can get it home before registering it.

The main idea is that towing services are used when a driver can’t or shouldn’t move a vehicle on their own.

Most car insurance companies offer towing services for an extra monthly charge. This may or may not be included with a roadside assistance package. There may be options available for just towing services or roadside assistance packages.

If a person chooses only towing services, they won’t receive the extra assistance that comes with full roadside packages. This works fine for some people.

Others prefer the option to have extra assistance if required. That is, without having to find someone else to assist after the vehicle is towed home.

When Should I Get My Car Towed?

There are several situations where a person might want to get their car towed. The most obvious and common reason is that the car isn’t running.

Cars stop running for a multitude of things. Some of these things can be easily fixed if you decided to get a roadside assistance package with towing. Other items can only be fixed by a mechanic with a full garage and the appropriate tools.

You might also want to get your car towed if it’s a new purchase. It isn’t legal to drive until it has been insured and registered at your local DMV. Towing the car to your place of residence is a smarter choice than risking a drive.

What is Roadside Assistance?

Roadside assistance is a service package designed to help drivers with easy fixes. It helps drivers when their vehicles break down away from home.

What’s included in roadside assistance packages varies from one provider to the next. Towing is often provided as part of a roadside assistance package, but it isn’t always. Besides towing, the following items are generally included:

  • Battery service
  • Flat Tire Service
  • Fuel Delivery
  • Lockout Service
  • Extrication Services

But what are these services actually for? Most policies have strict guidelines on what their roadside assistance packages will cover. Let’s look at the most commonly included services to see what they are.

Battery Service

Batteries occasionally die and need to be recharged. With a battery service, you can get your car jumped. This service does not include supplying replacement batteries if yours won’t charge.

Flat Tire Service

This is where a person comes to change your flat tire. They will remove the flat from the vehicle and replace it with a new one that can be driven on.

This service does not include a replacement tire. The person calling must have a spare tire of their own. Spare tires are usually located in the trunk or on the back of some vehicles.

Fuel Delivery

Ever forgotten to get gas? Your car suddenly starts sputtering because there isn’t any more fuel to drive with.

That’s where fuel delivery comes in. With this service, someone will bring you an allotted amount of gas gallons to get you to the next service station.

Lockout Service

You might know this as a “car locksmith service.” If you’ve locked your keys in the vehicle, someone will come to help you unlock it. No broken windows are necessary.

Extrication Services

This is like tow services, but for a very short distance. Extrication services help you get your car moving again if it becomes stuck.

When might a vehicle become stuck? It could get stuck in the mud, in a ditch, or even in soft sand.

When Should I Call Roadside Assistance?

If you need a quick fix to help get you moving again, you might want to call roadside assistance. You’ll have to verify you have this service.

Besides your car insurance provider, your cell phone provider might offer a package. These packages can also be bought from individual service providers.

Call roadside assistance if:

  • You have a flat tire
  • Your battery dies
  • You run out of fuel
  • You’ve locked your keys in the car
  • Your car is stuck and won’t move

Towing Vs. Roadside Assistance

Many people don’t understand the difference between towing vs roadside assistance. While towing sometimes comes with roadside assistance packages, the two aren’t the same.

A tow service is for when your car won’t run. It helps move your vehicle to a safe spot like your home or an auto mechanic shop.

Roadside assistance is for getting your vehicle moving again. These packages offer assistance for small issues that can be easily fixed.

With roadside assistance, you drive the vehicle away on your own. With towing, the vehicle doesn’t drive and must be transported on a flatbed.

Need a Tow?

Need more information on towing vs roadside assistance? Having car problems and need to get towed? Contact us today. One of our associates will be happy to assist you.

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