Maybe you get a flat tire out in the middle of nowhere, or suddenly, your car starts to overheat without warning. Essentially, you're stuck out on the road, and unless you have roadside assistance, you're not sure when you'll actually get to your destination. That's just what roadside assistance programs aim to fix: a problematic or potentially dangerous situation.

But do you actually need roadside assistance? That's a question posed by many new and used car owners. Discover everything you should know about roadside assistance to make the right decision for your vehicle, your family, and your finances.

What Does Roadside Assistance Cover?

Roadside assistance covers a wide array of situations not covered by other types of warranties. Therefore, knowing what providers offer can help you choose the right package. Here's what you can expect to find on an emergency roadside assistance policy — just make sure to check your specific policy in question to make sure you know what it covers.

Towing Services

If you suffer a major mechanical breakdown, roadside assistance will provide towing services. This service is free up to a certain towing distance. After that, you may have to pay a little extra per kilometre for the tow truck to get you where you need to go.

Battery Boost

If you have a dead battery and no one's around for a jump-start, roadside assistance springs into action. They'll usually charge your battery to get you to a repair shop or automotive parts store. If the battery is completely dead, they will often give you a lift.


The Canadian winter poses a number of problems when you're behind the wheel. If inclement weather or poor road conditions send you into a ditch, roadside assistance provides winching and extrication services to get you back on the road.

Lockout Service

If you lock yourself out of your car, most roadside assistance programs will call a locksmith. These professionals come with a kit that can open your window just enough to get inside the vehicle and retrieve your keys, which is especially handy if you don't have a spare key.

Tire Service

When you get a flat, you hopefully have a spare tire to use. But that's only half the battle. If you don't know how to put it on, roadside assistance can put the tire on for you.

Gas Delivery

Everyone runs out of gas at some point in their lives. If you're stuck because you forgot to go to the pump, roadside assistance becomes your greatest ally. They'll deliver the fuel to your location, and you'll be back on the road in no time.

Bike Assist

If you're an avid cyclist, you'll be pleased to know that some roadside assistance programs offer bike assist. This service is similar to roadside assistance for your car, but for your bicycle instead. If you run into a problem while biking, bike assist will take you and your bicycle to a safe location.

Trip Interruption

If a major mechanical breakdown forces you to miss some of your vacation, trip interruption — a type of travel insurance on roadside assistance policies — can provide reimbursement for some of your costs and time. This will often cover between $250 and $1,000, lessening the burden of your situation.

Factors to Consider Before Signing Up for Roadside Assistance

Although roadside assistance comes with a number of advantages, it's not the best choice for every type of car owner or driver in Canada. So before you plunk down a monthly or yearly payment for these services, you should consider the following factors.

Do You Have a New Vehicle?

If you have a new vehicle, roadside assistance doesn't always make sense. The vehicle is in tip-top mechanical shape and everything on it is brand new. Consequently, the odds of a breakdown are slim. 

Furthermore, many automakers typically offer up to five years of roadside assistance program on new vehicles as part of their manufacturer's warranty on new vehicles. When you purchase the vehicle, you'll want to check to see what's included. If roadside assistance is part of the plan, there's no reason to add roadside assistance from another provider.

The Used Vehicle Conundrum

If you have a used vehicle, roadside assistance definitely makes more sense. Components of your vehicle can start to wear out over time, and the last place you want to be is stranded when it happens. In this scenario, roadside assistance makes far more sense. Keep in mind that if you've also purchased an extended warranty, you may already have roadside assistance. The same goes if you have a certified pre-owned vehicle, which typically offers roadside assistance for a few years.

Your Level of Expertise

Your level of automotive knowledge also plays a role in whether you should get roadside assistance coverage. If you've never done a tire change, you don't know how to jump-start a car, or you're not sure how to pop the hood of your car, roadside assistance services might be a great choice.

Peace of Mind for the Absent-Minded

Even if your car knowledge is adequate, you might have other issues related to car ownership. The absent-minded car owner can fall prey to other issues that roadside assistance can solve. This includes lockout service for those who frequently lock their keys in the car or don't carry a spare. In addition, drivers who like to see how far they can push the needle to "E" without filling up might need the fuel delivery services offered by roadside assistance.

If you've ever run out of gas or locked yourself out, the convenience of roadside assistance and service calls might appeal to you, especially if you need tire service or battery service.

Where and How Far You Drive

Many people use their car purely for commuting and running errands, and the average Canadian only travels about 40 kilometres a day. If your drive is always close to home or in an urban or suburban area, you might be able to skip roadside assistance.

But as you get farther away from your home, roadside assistance becomes a smarter choice. In rural or unfamiliar areas, you may not know how far away the nearest service station or towing company is. As a result, adding roadside assistance coverage can prevent a scary or potentially dangerous situation.

Your Budget

In the grand scheme of car ownership, a few bucks a month for roadside assistance seems like a no-brainer. Yet if you're on a tight budget, you might not have the cash to put down every month for the services.

If you're worried about costs, however, don't stress too much. In Canada, you have numerous options for roadside assistance. Shop around to reduce your costs.

Different Roadside Assistance Options for Canadians

Canadians have several roadside assistance options depending on where they live. Some providers offer national service while others are solely provincial. Here's a glance at the roadside service options available in your area. Keep in mind that eligibility requirements will vary depending on your location.

National Roadside Assistance Service

If you go on frequent vacations or business trips in your vehicle, national roadside assistance plans provide comfort, convenience, and peace of mind. Here are some of the most popular.

  • Canadian Automobile Association (CAA): With eight regional clubs and six million members, the CAA is the largest roadside assistance service in Canada. They also have reciprocity with AAA in the United States, so you're still covered across most of North America.
  • Canadian Tire: Canadian Tire is another option for national roadside assistance. This company offers numerous roadside assistance plans, as well as exclusive savings on travel and other perks for members.
  • Costco Roadside Assistance: If you shop at Costco, you're eligible for their roadside assistance program. This program provides up to four service calls a year, provided that your car is 12 years old or less.

Provincial Roadside Assistance Programs

If you don't travel across the country or to the United States, provincial roadside assistance programs might be the better (and cheaper) option. These services provide either a phone number or mobile app to customers, allowing you to get service quickly and conveniently. Most of these programs are through the CAA, but you can also find local providers as well by searching online in your city or province.

Other Roadside Assistance Programs

Some car owners have roadside assistance programs and don't even realize it. Many credit cards (such as Visa and Mastercard), insurance companies, and even car dealerships provide roadside assistance. So before you buy a policy, check what you already have.

Clutch Has Your Back With Roadside Assistance

If you've decided that roadside assistance is best for your new car purchase, Clutch should be the next place to look for your car. 

When you purchase a car from Clutch, you can add the Clutch Protection Plan. Not only will you get an extended warranty that covers the electrical systems, steering, fuel system, and more, you'll also get roadside assistance if the worst should happen. With all of these perks, the Clutch Protection Plan just makes sense. Offering peace of mind and a reliable, quality vehicle, you have everything you need to just sit back and enjoy the drive.