Auto clubs can provide multiple services, ranging from car insurance to:
- auto maintenance services
- auto towing services
- road side assistance
- and more
Is this something that you need?
Pros of Auto Clubs
People often become members of these clubs for the peace of mind they offer. If your car stalls out, gets stuck in ice and snow, or spins into a ditch, as just three examples, you need help, fast. With membership in AAA or a similar club, you can have the security of knowing that road side assistance is on its way.
Better yet, this auto towing service is typically included in the cost of membership, which means you'll be okay even if your wallet is pretty empty.
So, questions to ask yourself include:
- Do you think you could handle a situation as described above, even without a membership?
- What if the same thing happened to your teenaged or college-aged son or daughter?
- Would a membership give you added peace of mind while your child is on the road?
These clubs provide road side assistance in ways other than an auto towing service, in the form of jump starts, gas delivery and more. They can also change your tires, help you get into a car that you locked yourself out of and much more.
These clubs also often provide non-vehicle perks. They might serve as a travel agent for members, providing discounted car rentals, hotel reservations and tickets to many major U.S. destinations. You may also receive traveler's checks through them.
Finally, these clubs can broker many other necessities in life such as health or life insurance, financing a new car or home, and more. Each club is unique, but most will offer the basics of road side assistance and towing services, which in and of itself may be worth the relatively small annual membership fee.
The Cons of Auto Clubs
Despite the many perks of membership, there is a down side. Members sometimes complain of high-pressure sales for other services, when all they want is the basics. Other complaints focus on customer service. Perhaps you paid for your membership; didn't need to use it all year long; but, when you finally did need an auto towing service, or some other service, response time was slow.
When it comes down to decision time about an auto club purchase, try to determine your options for auto maintenance when the unexpected happens. If your best buddy runs a towing service, then you've got a Plan B when the roads are slick and you spin off the road, and so your needs aren't as pressing. If you don't have such a sweet set up (and if you have children who are driving your vehicles) then you ought to take a closer look at available auto clubs.
Check out the extra services. Which ones would you use? If you're planning a cross-country trip, then you may find value in certain services; if you spend all of your vacations in a cottage just an hour down the road, then these trip planning may not be needed.
Editor's note: Visit Advance Auto Parts for a wide selection of roadside assistance kits and accessories. Buy online, pick up in store.