Common reasons to consider roadside assistance
Last updated: January 1
There are several situations where you may find yourself in need of roadside assistance. Even if you feel prepared for a few potential problems on the road — like a flat tire — knowing that there's a provider you can contact in an emergency can give you some additional peace of mind.
Here are some common reasons why you may want to consider roadside assistance and how to stay safe if your car is broken down on the side of the road.
Not all new cars come with a spare tire, though they may be equipped with "run-flats" to continue driving for a short allowable distance, or a compressor and sealant kit to temporarily fix a flat tire. Those that do typically have a spare tire in the trunk or mounted under the trunk. If you know how, changing a flat tire yourself is generally quick and easy, as long as you can do so safely. If you've never done it before, then you probably won't want to try learning once you're stranded. Flat tires are one of the most common reasons to contact roadside assistance.
Need a tow
If you break down or are in an accident, you'll need to get your car in a safe location off the road and into a repair shop. Sometimes a one-time tow may be pricey if you haven't done your research. You also don't want to try and find a towing company while you're broken down. Consider contacting your insurance provider if you think you require a tow. They'll make sure to send a trustworthy company to your location.
Jumper cables are a key component in a car emergency kit but should only be used in an emergency. Make sure you know how to use the jumper cables properly. If you're alone and need to jump start your car, you should call for help. Never flag down another motorist, which could be dangerous, says Consumer Reports. If your battery is completely dead or you haven't stored your jumper cables properly, even the cables might not work.
Locked out or dead key fob battery
Most cars come with two keys or key fobs. Naturally, giving your spare key or key fob to a loved one or keeping it in your home can be helpful in this situation as you can contact your friend or spouse and wait for them. But, if you're far away, don't have time to get a new key fob battery or need to get into your vehicle more quickly, contacting roadside assistance might be your best bet. If you don't have roadside assistance already, some companies may provide help without signing up in advance.
Out of gas
For safety reasons, you should not keep a filled gas can in your vehicle, says the National Agricultural Safety Database. Having an empty gas can may come in handy, but you have to get from your car to a gas station and back. Most basic roadside services include fuel delivery because running out of gas is a common problem for motorists. Keep in mind that in most cases, the gas is provided at cost to the customer.
Car breakdown safety tips
Whether you're broken down because of a flat tire or an accident, you should keep the following safety tips in mind from the Insurance Information Institute and Consumer Reports:
- Turn on your car's hazard lights and slowly reduce your speed
- Pull your car over to the side of the road or shoulder onto level ground as soon as it is safe to do so.
- Keep your car's hazard lights on and put out your emergency reflector triangles, if you have them, to help alert other drivers.
- Don't attempt to repair your vehicle on a busy highway.
- If you're able to safely walk to another location, leave a note on the windshield of your car with your phone number, lock your car and call for assistance once you're in a safe location.
- If you cannot walk to a safe location, stay in your car with the doors locked and your seat belt fastened. Call for assistance and wait for them to arrive.
Roadside assistance may not be as expensive as you might think but be sure you understand exactly what is included in your plan to ensure you have the right coverage. You may not need roadside assistance often, but you'll be glad you invested in it if a problem arises.