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Did you know you are paying to be towed at least once a year?

Updated: Aug 27, 2019

Nobody wants to think of needing a tow truck. Is there anything more frustrating than being stranded on the side of the road when you’re supposed to be at work, or picking your kid up from soccer practice, or home cooking dinner?

Needing a tow truck easily ranks up there with needing an emergency HVAC technician at your home to fix your heat when it’s 20 degrees outside.

And maybe that’s why many people actually pay for the service – even when they don’t need it.

While no one would dispute the aggravation of being stranded, many overestimate exactly how often they really do need to be towed. Is it once every two years? Four years?

I can honestly say I’ve been towed twice since I got my driver’s license – thirty years ago. So for me that averages out to once every 15 years. If you consider the cost over the years for the middle-of-the-road package from AAA, and include two drivers in your household covered at today’s prices, you’re looking at between $90 and $273 per year.

Ignoring the Consumer Price Index -- and averaging the cost of a typical road service “classic” plan with a “premium” plan, that comes out to:

$250 + $90, divided by two = $170 per year. Times 30 years for me.

That’s $5,100 for the two times I needed a tow truck. Or, $2,550 PER TOW.

My example may be unusual – most people I’ve talked to have gotten their cars towed maybe once every five years to ten years or so. But you get the point.

So why in the world would anyone pay so many times for a rarely used service?

That’s easy – it’s called “insurance mentality.” We’ve been breed to think that one simply cannot have too much insurance, whether for your car or home or health or otherwise.

The difference is – most insurance is actually REQUIRED, if you want to attain a car or home loan, for example. People just carry that way of thinking into other parts of their lives. It’s a mindset that tells us “I need the reassurance that someone will bring a battery to me whenever my car breaks down. And I’m willing to pay in advance, many times over, for that sense of security.”

My question is – why not just establish a relationship with a reputable local mechanic who not only has his own tow capabilities, but also has a relationship with a late-night towing company that will deliver your prone vehicle directly to his or her shop at no extra charge other than the average cost of a towing service?

What happens if the “nearest mechanic’s shop” to your incident is not a reputable repair shop, or you don’t trust their assessment of your car’s mechanical issues? Won’t you be paying for a tow from that less desirable shop to your shop of choice anyway?

What if I break down and I’m nowhere near my favorite auto shop?

That’s an interesting point – if you are, let’s say, a traveling salesman, then it would likely behoove you to routinely pay up front for a nationwide roadside assistance company to be at your service.

But what about the rest of us? How many of us simply don’t drive more than 20 miles from our homes and work very often? For us, it makes absolutely no sense to do anything other than find a reputable, reliable mechanic and establish a relationship with them.

After all, how many of us are fairly picky about who is keeping our vehicle on the road? I’d say that would be most of us. It’s certainly me.

If you live in the Philadelphia area, GPS Mitch’s Auto at 4747 Pennypack Street, Phila. 19136, and get started on taking away at least one major stress from your existence – the life and health of your vehicle.

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