Posted on September 8, 2018
Is Roadside Assistance Worth It? | Mississauga & Toronto
If your car is less than 3 years old, you might wonder if adding a roadside assistance program to your list of annual automotive expenses is worth it. After all, you have your warranty, right? May we remind you that this is Ontario, where Mother Nature doesn’t care about your choice of air freshener, your favourite radio station or your warranty? Keys get locked in cars. Tires go flat in inclement weather conditions. And even the healthiest of batteries can go on strike during cold snaps. That’s where roadside assistance comes in. The short answer to the question, “Is roadside assistance worth it?” Yes.
The best-known roadside assistance program in the country is CAA, short for the Canadian Automobile Association. Before I owned my own vehicle, my knowledge of CAA involved those crazy-but-handy TripTik maps they publish for extended road trips across Canada and the USA. A friend’s elderly mom had gifted us with one before we headed for Florida. With GPS apps of every imaginable stripe available these days, including an official TripTik app, only the very devoted map-lover still uses a paper version. Some of you may know of CAA because of their extensive discounts program, available to members on hotel bookings, at select shops, restaurants and attractions. The most basic reason to have CAA is peace of mind. One chief advantage of CAA coverage: Emergency Roadside Assistance from CAA is not vehicle-specific. Your membership covers you, and depending on your membership tier, can include the bike, motorcycle, RV or car you may be operating at the time of need. That gives CAA an edge over some of their competitors, who cover the vehicle, not the member.
Retail giants have jumped on the Roadside Assistance Program bandwagon, as have banks. You should check with your financial institution to see what they offer through select credit cards and insurance programs. Whether you think it’s a good deal or not depends on your budget, existing memberships at places like Costco, and whether you already happen to have a credit card or insurance coverage with a fee that includes roadside.
Did you know that Ontario Chrysler
offers their own Roadside Assistance through Mopar? The FCA Roadside Assistance Program comes with your purchase of a new Jeep
, or Ram
vehicle. All new vehicle plans include Roadside Assistance for the duration of the plan selected. This service is available 24 hours/day, year-round, nationwide. Services include: battery boost, tire change, lockout service, emergency fuel delivery to a stranded vehicle, winching and towing to the nearest Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep®, Ram and FIAT® dealership. Some also include Tire Roadside Hazard Protection. Depending on the plan you sign up, contracts offer $0, $100 or $200 deductibles for the term of the contract. Heads up: a deductible does not apply to towing or to rental allowances. Whether you’re driving a Challenger
, a Ram
or a Wrangler
, FCA’s program has a range of options for you when it comes to roadside assistance.
Should I get roadside assistance?
How old is your vehicle? What’s your commuting range? How badly do you want to change your own flat tire on the side of a busy highway? Still on the fence? Consider the following checklist to see what your actual needs are.
How old is your vehicle?
Brand new vehicle? You may not need the expense of major roadside assistance added to your insurance. Most car manufacturers (like FCA) offer roadside emergency service packages that are complementary for at least the first few years, or a certain number of miles, whichever happens first. You may wish to just go it on a one-off basis, paying for any incidents (locked out, stuck in a ditch) as they arise. For older cars, roadside assistance may be a better investment.
How far do you commute?
Consider where your daily commute and personal errands take you in terms of distance and time. Maybe your local mechanic can take care of your needs because you seldom venture too far. If, however, you love road trips and spontaneous back road adventures far, far from the technicians who know your car best, roadside assistance is likely a very good idea.
How much do you value convenience?
OK, so you’d rather not change your own flat tire. We get it, and sometimes it isn’t safe to do in certain traffic or weather situations. But convenience goes beyond keeping your new suit clean for that dinner party you were heading to—or coming home from. Roadside assistance programs will locate and contact the nearest automotive professional in their extensive network. And because you can’t always Google your way out of a sticky roadside situation on a dark road or in rotten weather
, 24/7 operator response is a very big perk to the service.
Is roadside assistance worth the cost?
The roadside assistance program can save you a good chunk of change on individual service fees. Consider the out-of-pocket cost of a one-time tow. The roadside package generally pays for itself in terms of services and peace of mind. It’s possible that you could, in one 12-month period, have a flat, run out of gas, or slide off the road due to loose gravel or in icy conditions. Depending on where you live, the amount of driving you do day to day, and the type of vehicle you have, a roadside assistance member could very easily use the service three times in a year. That means the annual fee pays for itself. In the case of free coverage provided by your dealership, car insurance company or credit card, so much the better.
Who should think seriously about emergency roadside assistance?
Most women I know who drive regularly prefer to have some sort of roadside assistance program in place. It’s not about whether you can or cannot change your own flat, but how safe you feel about speaking to anyone but an authorized professional in a roadside situation, especially at night. After turning on your hazard lights, putting out flares and generally making your vehicle easy to spot to avoid collisions, the common wisdom tells women to remain in the vehicle, doors locked, until a family member, partner or authorized automotive professional arrives to assist you. Not only is it dangerous to stand on the side of the road for reasons of physical safety, but for personal safety as well. Most people mean well, but it’s best to wait for a tow truck or mechanic who can show you official credentials.
Other drivers who may want to consider a pre-paid roadside emergency assistance package are new parents, people with special health concerns, and senior drivers. Peace of mind is important to us all, but some folks could use an extra bit of reassurance that if their car breaks down, they won’t be stranded. It's also a good idea for folks who refuse to heed the check engine light
. No, not you. Your buddy, the one who lives on the edge.
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