Every car owner deals with vehicle maintenance that requires the expertise of a certified mechanic. For most issues, a car is taken into an autobody shop or one of YourMechanic’s certified technicians can come to the car owner’s location. However, there are circumstances when one of our mobile mechanics can’t meet you, or you can’t safely drive your car to a shop. In these cases, calling a towing service is your best or only option.
Tow trucks are built to carry and deliver inoperable vehicles of varying sizes to owner’s homes or auto shops for repair. Flatbed tow trucks, those with a long flatbed that can be lowered for use as a ramp, are the most common and safest. Hook and chain tow trucks are gradually phasing out — as they tend to damage the towed vehicles — while wheel-lift tow trucks use a similar method that causes less car damage. Though not as safe or protective as flatbeds, wheel-lift tow trucks offer a cheaper towing alternative.
In certain circumstances, tow trucks are necessary, particularly if you’re in need of roadside assistance. Here are 5 situations in which calling a tow truck is your best option.
1. Out of Gas
Though everyone tries to avoid it, sometimes you run out of gas. You don’t plan quite right, fail to notice the dashboard light, or the light is broken — regardless, you run out gas to keep driving. Pulling over on the side of a roadway and leaving the car to go buy gasoline can be dangerous, especially if you’re far from a gas station.
As embarrassing as it may feel, calling a tow truck to take you to a gas station is necessary. Some towing companies may even offer to bring you fuel for a fee. Either way, tow truck drivers know how to safely take care of your out-of-fuel car.
2. In an Accident
If you’re ever in a collision and serious car damage ensues, call 911 and a tow truck. Even if you, the other driver, or any passengers are not injured, do not try to drive away in a crumbling vehicle. Your car may no longer have operable brakes or fully-functioning systems that prevent the car from leaking oil, fuel, and other potentially flammable liquids.
Minor damage may still warrant calling a tow truck. Tow truck operators can give you a better idea of how damaged the car really is, and advise you on the next best steps. Major car damage from accidents will most certainly warrant calling a tow truck to take the car to a shop, your home, or possibly a junkyard if it is completely totaled.
3. Flat Tire
A flat tire can occur from poor tire maintenance, such as ignoring low tire pressure warnings and worn-out treads, or puncture from a sharp object. Many people know how to change a tire if they have a spare on-hand. However, should a tire give out on a busy highway, it may be safest to perform the job elsewhere. Calling a tow truck to transport your vehicle to a place where someone, possibly the driver, can safely and knowledgeably replace a flat tire may be needed. Some tow truck drivers may even be willing to do the job for a price if you have the spare on you but cannot perform the job yourself.
4. Overheating and Other Breakdowns
A car can overheat from many different malfunctions within the car. Should you be driving and your engine overheats, it could lead to the car shutting down and coming to a complete stop. If this occurs while far away from your home or an auto shop, pulling over and calling a tow truck is the safest option.
Both well-maintained and neglected cars are prone to breakdowns. Those that happen suddenly and unexpectedly may have hard-to-find causes. These kinds of breakdowns tend to happen when you least expect it, like when driving for long stretches or running errands. A tow truck is the quickest option to get your car to a place where it can be properly inspected.
5. Car Won’t Start
A car that won’t start isn’t always a result of a dead battery. It’s a particularly irritating circumstance when you find yourself stuck after a trip to school, work, or the store. Should you be away from home when this occurs, you’ll want to call a tow truck to take your car to an automotive shop or back to your house to await mobile repairs.
What to Do When Calling a Towing Company
When calling a tow company to rescue you and your out-of-commission car, make sure you pull safely to the side of the road first. It is also smart to call your insurance company to report the issue — some companies will reimburse the cost of the tow. Before the tow truck arrives, take some pictures of the car to document pre-towing damage. Be sure to ask the towing company representative for a price estimate, how they’ll tow the car, and where they will take it. Keep your receipt for personal cataloging and for your insurance company.
Tow trucks can be immense lifesavers, no matter how inconvenient the circumstance that brought them. YourMechanic’s mobile technicians can come to you to repair your car, but not on the side of a busy highway. Add the phone number of a reliable tow truck company to your phone or wherever you keep your car’s insurance contact in the vehicle.