5 Roadside Assistance Tips to Help You Manage an Emergency

No matter how meticulous you are with scheduled maintenance, your car is still bound at some point to hit on a bumpy road. Whether it's a flat tire, dead battery, or faulty transmission, it's always best to have a plan ready at all times to respond to such setbacks. Use the following 5 tips to help ensure you stay in the proverbial driver's seat at all times:

1. Pack a roadside emergency kit

Pack an emergency kit so you're prepared in the event of a car breakdown or issue. Most items listed below are relatively cheap and can be found at your local store or online.

An ideal roadside emergency kit should include the following: 

  • road flares
  • jumper cables
  • ponchos
  • tarp
  • flashlight and extra batteries
  • rags
  • duct tape
  • bottled water and non-perishable snacks
  • multipurpose tools
  • First Aid kit
    • band-aids
    • hand sanitizer
    • antiseptic
    • bug spray
    • aspirin
    • cotton balls
    • gauze pads
    • tweezers
  • small, easily storable fire extinguisher
  • extra blankets
  • cell phone charger
  • refillable gas jug
  • entertainment (deck of cards, book, portable games, etc.)

However, if you’re looking to just make sure you have the basics, opt for an emergency kit that includes the following:

  • First Aid kit
  • multipurpose tools
  • jumper cables
  • road flares
  • bottled water and non-perishable snacks
  • cell phone charger

Make sure you don’t lose any emergency kit components by creating a list and taping it to the outside of your emergency kit box. This way, you’ll have a convenient document to reference as you pack up after an issue.

2. Get off the road

Once you realize your car is experiencing an issue, move off the road and away from traffic as quickly and safely as possible. Look for open space where you can leave your car idle for some time without obstructing the flow of traffic in either direction. Ideally, look for an emergency lane, rest stop, or parking lot in the immediate proximity. If that's not possible, try for a wide shoulder on the right side, since you always want to be with the flow of traffic, rather than against it. Avoid stopping in the middle of the road or in places that are hard to see or navigate, like blind corners, hills, one-way streets, or bridges.

3. Let others on the road know you need help

Once you pull over to the side of the road, press the hazard button in your car. This will activate your hazard lights and let anyone who passes by know that you’re experiencing a vehicle issue. Next, exit the car safely and increase your visibility with flares or triangles (part of your roadside emergency kit). Finally, prop up your car's hood to clearly signal that you're in need of roadside assistance.

4. Stay near your car

Have at least one person near the car at all times. While it may seem natural to abandon your car and search for assistance, your chances of getting help are better if you're close to your car, rather than at a random intersection 2 miles away.

5. Call roadside assistance

Once you’re safely out of traffic, contact your roadside assistance service. If you aren't currently subscribed to one, use your phone to search for an auto or tow shop nearby.

It's important to understand what roadside emergency assistance covers and how it works. Let's break it down further:

How roadside assistance works

Roadside assistance works like this: you call up your provider’s designated number and tell them where you are and what issue(s) you’re dealing with. They'll then send a specialist your way to fix the issue if it can be remedied roadside. Arrival times vary, but typically someone will be able to get to you within the hour.

Roadside assistance plans

Typically a car owner will, through a monthly or annual premium, purchase a roadside assistance plan that includes a host of covered services like towing, gas tank fill-up, and changing/replacing flat tires. You can also go a step beyond and purchase a Vehicle Service Contract (VSC) that includes roadside assistance. (VSCs differ from roadside assistance plans in that they protect car owners against covered auto repairs and breakdowns. Some VSCs offer roadside assistance services as an additional plan benefit. Learn more about Vehicle Service Contracts here.)

What does roadside assistance cover? 

Here's a list of common issues roadside assistance is able to help resolve:

  • Changing/replacing flat tires
  • Filling up gas tank
  • Fixing/replacing dead battery
  • Unlocking your car
  • Getting your car out of a ditch
  • Towing your car (if necessary)

This is not an exhaustive list, and you should do your research before purchasing roadside assistance to make sure your expectations meet what is actually covered in your plan.

Get emergency roadside assistance through a Vehicle Service Contract

When your car breaks down, there's no easier way to get out of a jam than to call up a service whose entire objective is to render assistance as quickly and safely as possible. Make sure you have a roadside assistance plan in place before you need it.

At Toco Warranty Corp., 24/7 emergency roadside assistance comes with all of the vehicle service contract plans we offer. Not available in California.

Click here to learn more about how we can help when you encounter a roadside emergency, while also protecting you against unexpected auto-repair bills in any setting.