Roadside Assistance Membership: Is It Worth The Cost?
Posted by: Lydia on 9/01/2018
Even if you are a real car guru, you’ll admit cars can be expensive. There’s not only the initial purchase price, but the ongoing costs of fuel, maintenance, and registration. Over time these can add up, and it's understandable that many Australians look for ways to save on the cost of car ownership.
Because many of us are pretty handy when it comes to changing a tyre or a tail light, you may find yourself wondering if a roadside membership is really worth the cost. Here’s an overview of some of the pros and cons of having a membership to help you determine the answer to this question.
Despite some cheeky stereotypes, most mechanics are good and decent professionals. It’s definitely to your advantage to build a good working relationship with your local mechanic for quick and affordable access to services and repairs. Now and then though, you may be driving far outside of your local area, and if you have a breakdown, it may be really hard to get your car transported to your own mechanic.
With a roadside membership program, you’ll have instant access to referrals for trusted providers that are located nearby. If you don’t have a membership, you’ll be on your own in randomly selecting and dealing with a mechanic one-on-one. If you happen to choose one who’s not so reliable or reputable, it can cost you in more ways than one.
It’s true every Australian motorist has consumer rights, but just like replacing a transmission, hiring a lawyer to right your wrong can be a pretty expensive proposition. The same applies to hiring a tow truck if you don’t have a membership - those kilometres can be pricey. These headaches and others like them can all be avoided if you have a roadside membership.
The continuity factor
The upfront cost of a roadside assistance membership may not delight you at first, but over time the premiums can decrease. Membership details vary from provider to provider, but some may offer a discount of 5% off your bill for the first couple of years, all the way up to 20% off your bill for 50 years of membership.
Ok, you probably have other dreams to realise in the next 50 years, but over time these roadside assistance discounts can make a big difference to your bottom line. This is particularly true in that many memberships offer a number of free call outs per year, some extra goodies like oil changes, and discounts with other service providers.
For those who do use these services regularly, the membership can quickly pay for itself. And drivers who didn’t use any services in the past year can try to renegotiate a lower membership fee with their provider.
Peace of mind
Roadside assistance also offers you peace of mind, which can be invaluable. It’s true that Australia is a pretty safe country, and you’re unlikely to need Mad Max in the event that your car breaks down somewhere. Nevertheless, it can be a nervy experience to break down somewhere far from home late at night. In the old days, you might have had to leave your car and go wandering looking for a pay phone. Now, with a mobile phone in hand, you can just call roadside assistance and wait.
This is great peace of mind for anyone, but if you’re a new driver, a parent with young kids, or a senior, knowing you have support in such situations can be an especially big help. It takes a lot of the stress away if something goes wrong, and also means you can focus on calling a taxi and getting a ride home, instead of worrying about calling a local garage.
When would roadside membership not be worth the cost?
For some Australians, there could be an exceptional circumstance or two where a roadside assistance membership may not be useful. If you’re someone who uses their car very infrequently - say, for one trip to the shops each week - then you may see little need for a membership. This is also true if you only drive in your local area.
Most vehicles around the nation are driven over 13,000 kilometres a year, and that means a lot of cross-town trips and road trips for many Aussies. But if you’re one of those rare drivers that regularly uses your car but never travels outside your home suburb, the risk of a breakdown far from home is non-existent for you and the need for a membership may be minimised.
Even in these instances though, the many services and benefits a roadside membership offers could mean you’d still find yourself using it for other reasons.
Making the call
All in all, roadside assistance membership programs have their pros and cons. While a few types of drivers may not have need for it, for most drivers, the many benefits of a membership far outweigh any minor concerns like fees (especially if they decrease each year).
Your car manufacturer or auto insurer may offer their own roadside assistance program, or you can search online for an appropriate general or specific membership type. At Tyreright, for example, we offer our own roadside assistance membership program for tyres for commercial transport. No matter what your needs, there is likely a roadside assistance program that’s right for you. All that’s left to do is buckle in and enjoy the ride.
What other factors should be considered with roadside assistance memberships? Share your thoughts in the comments below: