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Why Don’t Emergency Towing Services Work for Everyone

Having a membership to an emergency towing service sounds like a smart investment. Planning for emergencies is a great way to ensure that you, your family, and your car are able to get help when you needed, and that’s why dispatch services like AAA are available to help get you the service you need. What they don’t tell you when you sign up, however, is that the emergency towing service doesn’t always work.

How do third-party emergency memberships work?

If it isn’t obvious, emergency towing services that span large areas, such as the entire United States, work through third-party businesses and contractors to network services to the best of their abilities. Memberships that offer emergency towing services, like AAA usually come with different tiers of options available at different prices. That means if you are traveling or you live in a rural area, you are at the mercy of the local towing businesses that are partnered with the emergency towing service, and that isn’t always a great thing.

Tiger Woods accident vehicle towed away on flatbed truck
The vehicle driven by Tiger Woods is towed away on Hawthorne Blvd after he ran off the road and sustained injuries | Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times, Getty Images

Problems with local tow services

If you are relying on a local tow service to support your third-party emergency towing membership, you might end up with some bad luck. For me, that meant waiting hours for a tow truck that never ended up arriving very late at night. This wasn’t at all at the fault of the emergency subscription, either, but rather an unknown issue with the contracted towing service. Because I wasn’t able to talk to the towing service directly, I never quite found out what happened, but all I cared about was not being stuck on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with a broken-down Jeep.

A tow truck operator secures the car that golf legend Tiger Woods was driving when seriously injured in a rollover accident
A tow truck operator secures the car that golf legend Tiger Woods was driving when seriously injured in a rollover accident | David McNew, Getty Images

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It’s still worth the membership

However, regardless of one unfortunate event with uncontrollable circumstances, having access to emergency towing services through a membership has saved me, and my car, several thousands of dollars over the years — one year in particular with the worst BMW I had ever owned. Living in a somewhat large town with so many options for towing services through the emergency membership ended up saving us a ton of money, and made it well worth it, but it wasn’t as ideal when stuck in more rural areas with fewer options.

Vehicles being loaded onto a towing vehicle
Checks of travellers and commuters by the Federal Police are taking place at the Am Heidenholz car park on the A17 near Breitenau | Daniel Schäfer/picture alliance, Getty Images

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Emergency tow services are a great option for many drivers, and it’s one of those tools that you don’t really appreciate until you actually need them. If you are interested in getting a membership service for emergency towing services, it’s best to check out how that service works in your area, and if it’s worth the investment. For some drivers, the options make it well worth the membership, and for others, maybe not as much.