Towing vs. Roadside Assistance: Understanding the Difference

Nov 12, 2023By Ryan Lopez


When your car breaks down on the side of the road, it can be a stressful and frustrating experience. In these situations, you may find yourself wondering whether you need towing or roadside assistance. While they may seem similar, there are important differences between the two.


Towing involves physically moving your vehicle from one location to another. This is typically done using a tow truck or a flatbed trailer. Towing is necessary when your car cannot be fixed on the spot and needs to be taken to a repair shop or another destination.

When to Call for Towing

There are several situations where calling for towing is the best option:

  • If your car has been involved in an accident and is not drivable
  • If your car has a mechanical failure that cannot be fixed on the spot
  • If your car has a flat tire and you don't have a spare
  • If your car is stuck in a ditch or off-road

car towing

Roadside Assistance

Roadside assistance, on the other hand, refers to the services provided to get your car back on the road without the need for towing. These services are typically offered by insurance companies or automobile clubs and can include:

Types of Roadside Assistance

  • Tire changes: If you have a flat tire, roadside assistance can send someone to change it for you.
  • Battery jump-start: If your car battery dies, roadside assistance can help jump-start it.
  • Fuel delivery: If you run out of gas, roadside assistance can bring you fuel.
  • Lockout service: If you lock your keys inside your car, roadside assistance can help you gain access.
  • Minor repairs: Some roadside assistance services can perform minor repairs on the spot, such as fixing a broken belt or hose.

roadside assistance

Which One Do You Need?

Whether you need towing or roadside assistance depends on the specific situation you find yourself in. If your car is not drivable or has been involved in an accident, towing is likely the best option. On the other hand, if you have a minor issue that can be fixed on the spot, roadside assistance can save you time and money.

It's important to note that not all roadside assistance services are created equal. Some may have limitations on the number of service calls or the distance they will tow your vehicle. Before subscribing to a roadside assistance service, it's a good idea to read the fine print and understand the terms and conditions.

car breakdown

In Conclusion

Towing and roadside assistance are both valuable services that can help you when your car breaks down. Understanding the difference between the two can save you time, money, and unnecessary stress. Evaluate your situation and choose the option that best fits your needs.