I’ve never really given thought about buying roadside assistance protection before as I considered it just another unnecessary cost.  However, with an alternator failure the other day in our 8 year old car, it made me think about what it would cost to get a tow truck should I ever need one.   Along the same line of thought, the idea of roadside assistance started to appeal to me.  Being the comparison shopper that I am, I started to do some digging around on the available roadside assistance options out there.

From my research, there seems to be quite a few players in the Canadian roadside assistance industry.  They all seem to price their packages in the same range,with similar offerings as well.

CIBC Auto Club Costco CAA Plus Deluxe TD Auto Club PC Financial CAD Tire Gold Plan
Cost $99.95 $134.95 $117 $79 $69.97 $99.95
Towing KM 250km 200km 160km $200km 40km 250km
Traffic Accident Coverage $600 $500 (more than 250km from home) $500 Covers towing, accomm, car rental, meals $700 (more than 250km from home) $200 (more than 100km from home)
Calls Per Year 8 4 5 Unlimited ? 5
Battery Boost Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Flat Tire Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Gas Delivery Yes, Free Yes, Free Yes, Free Yes, Free Yes, Pay for Gas Yes, Free
Lockout Service Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Trip Accident Insurance $0 $0 $500k $0 $0 $0
Extrication Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Extras Trip planning services 20% ($27) off  for Exec members Trip planning services, CAA discounts at various establishments Free with TD Gold Visa, trip planning services. Only for PC M/C customers, trip planning services, 1 free oil change, trip planning services

As you can see from the table, most of the offerings are very similar with a bit of variation in price.  The beauty of a table like this is that every option can be compared side by side.  At first glance, it seems that the TD Deluxe Auto Club provides the most value.  For $80 per year, it’s among the lowest cost, but with the most benefits.

Roadside assistance is just like purchasing insurance.  You buy it in the hopes that you’ll never use it.  However, is the $100/year worth the peace of mind and convenience?  Or could you call a tow truck yourself and pay as you go?  Locked out of a car?  Perhaps keep an extra set at home or with a family member.  Battery dead?  Keep a pair of cables in your trunk and call family/friends for a boost.

How many of you have roadside assistance?  Which company do you recommend?

75 Comments

  1. Greg on March 17, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    It’s definitely worth getting if your car is over 5 years old. $100 a year is not bad for peace of mind.

    The reason I say this………

    3 years ago my car died in cottage country on a sunday morning in the winter 180 km from Toronto. No local garages were open and I had to get back to the city. I had to get a flatbed tow truck from a local company and it cost me over $300 for the tow back to Toronto.

  2. CharlesP on May 6, 2011 at 11:26 am

    @24. Tony C. [a year or so later]

    One difference in CAA and other clubs is that CAA it is on the driver, not the vehicle. Motorcycles are also covered with CAA Plus.

    So that means you have to pay extra [$40 for another driver] for your spouse.

    So that can be a bonus to we bikers or scooter-ers (:-)

  3. cpedley on May 8, 2011 at 11:11 am

    A great resource. Thanks for the comparison. One thing you might put in your chart is that some of the above plans require the signup for their credit card.

    This is 2011.

    Wondering what has changed if anything.

  4. shelly on May 19, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Kijiji has a roadside assistance deal on today for $39.

  5. kevin_405 on July 14, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Open TD Select Service Checking Account with $5000 min balance
    Get all/Most bank services free..

    Free services includes
    1> TD Elite Visa with free TD auto club
    2> Bank drafts
    3> US $ checking account and US $ credit card
    4> Lockers if available..
    5> Free cheque printing

    U should write an article on this

    After opening select service account with TD i closed my CAA membership.. TD auto club is far superior in terms of reimbursements when tows from clubs are hard to find.. this has happened to me with CAA where i would have had to wait 2 hrs for tow in a snow storm.

  6. Ross on July 19, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Recently we tried to use CAA roadside assistance for the very first time since we had purchased membership.

    5 and a half hours later, we were still waiting for a tow truck. We called back several times during the period ( thankfully we had brought along a cell phone) and each time they indicated a truck was definetly on its way and gave the time of arrival. These arrivals never occurred. After more than 5 and a half hours of this nonsense, we gave up and called a normal tow which arrived in 10 minutes and took care of everything. It cost me $100 but I didnt have to wait all day and possibly all night. We were not in a remote place but in a small city near our home. It turns out the towing company who is contracted for the work in our area is over 60km away. Thus, they dont actually provide service in our area despite selling us the membership and promising us the services.

  7. cannon_fodder on July 20, 2011 at 2:14 am

    Kevin_405,

    All along, TD has been pushing their TD Infinite card to me – I didn’t realize that the select service (which I just entered into 3 months ago) would allow me this TD Elite Card with free TD Auto Club membership for me, my spouse and any children under the age of 22 in the household. Thanks!

  8. Jessica on July 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    I’ve been with CAA for several years now.
    Recently I was stuck at the rest area on 401/Grimbsy and was told that Caa only had one tow truck in the entire area at 9pm.
    I was told they would be there within 45minutes, and I called 45 mins later only to be told the guy was towing someone’s car and it would be an hour or longer.
    Customer service offered no explanation as to why there was only one tow truck in the entire Niagara region.
    Expect better service for the plus memerbership fees!

  9. Suzanne on October 9, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Had our first experience with TD Elite today….not impressed….waited more than two hours for a tow. I can understand that kind of wait in the middle of a snow storm but not on a sunny Sunday morning. I also spent 20 minutes on the phone…most of the time on hold. Don’t see why they couldn’t have taken the cell number and called back when the arrangements were made.

  10. Plan seeker on November 24, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Old article, but still helpful – just found it on a search.

    To those complaining about waiting too long for a service vehicle, note that most tow truck drivers are independent contractors and have agreements with most of the roadside assistance providers in that area. So, when you switch from one plan to another, you still may be getting the exact same tow service.

    The differences in the plan providers are detailed in the table in the article above, how CSRs deal with customer, and if the provider is willing to contract additional tow truck owner/ops in specific problem areas.

  11. Paula on April 11, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Do not get Access Roadside Assistance.

    I did a comparison similar to yours before deciding which company to go with. I’d been a CAA member for years but found it to be expensive when other companies seemed to offer the same services for less. So I bought the Access Roadside Assistance 1 yr membership through one of the daily deal websites for the low price of $40. What a big mistake.

    I had chosen that company specifically because my membership included 200km of towing, which, living out in the country, was very important to me. When I finally did need to use it in rural Quebec, I was told the car would only be towed to the nearest garage – despite what it said in the manual. It was 11pm on a Sunday night and I had to call my mother to come and get me – a 1.5 hr drive for her (so 3 hrs total). Then she had to drive me back to the garage the next day after the car was fixed (another 3 hrs driving). This is not what I had signed up for and I achieved no savings from the membership given the garage was only 5km away from where I’d driven it to.

    Moral of the story, some things are too good to be true. I plan to file a complaint with the BBB shortly by the way.

  12. Alexandria Myko on May 17, 2012 at 2:08 am

    NTT roadside assistance sell membership for just $59. You don’t even have to buy membership, they’ll service you anyways. I needed help with a tire change on the 401 and they send help pretty fast. I asked the driver how did you get here so fast? He said ” Nearesttowtruck.com have over a 1000 tow trucks in the GTA on gps and they sent me as being the nearest tow truck to you”. It’s a great concept. It cost me $50 for the tire change and so i bought a membership for $59 after ward. Their number now stuck in my head 1888 90 TOWME.

  13. AmJam on May 25, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    A plug for TD Auto Club:

    – they delivered gas to me when I was out: didn’t charge me for 5L of gas!

    – I’ve locked my keys in the car at least half a dozen of times…fond memories. TD Auto Club dispatched a local truck to help me out.

    – I had a flat tire once upon a time, and noticed it at work. Called the club and they took it to my garage for me!

    – Travelled to Ithaca NY, was driving a friend’s car and got stuck. Called TD and they were there in a pinch.

    – Long story short, for the 80 bucks / year (they take it out in instalments for me), very much worth the expense.

  14. netasp on August 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    For the TD club, you HAVE to get their Visa card with $99 annual fee and as of today August 1st-2012, no more unlimited calls, limited to six only!

    I am very sure and just read their pdf manual. Can you guys confirm as well?

  15. John Clark on November 12, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Since we have a winter home in Phoenix. I joined the US AAA

    55$ with promo. We travel a lot in US

  16. sasha on December 27, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Be very careful with TD club, they will make the assumption you are at fault then tell you they cannot help you at this time because of that. I called TD head office to complain and they boldly lied for the reason to refuse me, just unbelievable.

    Do you really want your family going through that in a stressful event.

  17. Kai on December 30, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Another vote for Canadian Tire Roadside Assistance. Unlimited tows to the Canadian Tire of your choice is the big one for me… isn’t there one within a reasonable distance of anywhere you might want to go? And no, you don’t need to have it serviced there. Depending on the problem, you can putt-putt around the corner to your regular mechanic instead. Add 5 tows to anywhere and a free oil change, and you’re miles ahead of CAA!

    Only concerns are: CT follows the car, CAA follows the person. If you’ve one car and 2 or more possible drivers, CT has you all covered. If you’ve the reverse situation, you’re better off with CAA. Also, CT only covers you in Canada. For international trips, bring a friend with CAA ;).

  18. SlartyB on July 4, 2013 at 10:47 am

    @Kai – Canadian Tire does cover the US:
    http://roadsideassistance.canadiantire.ca/en/ChoosingaPlanNQC

    The other thing in favor of CT is 1 x free oil change, and four or five x $19 oil change vouchers. If you take advantage of these, then they effectively reduce the cost of membership significantly. I my case the oil change savings pay for half the membership fee. So it only really costs around $50 + tax to cover my wife and I for our single car. Compare that to the $195 it would cost for the same coverage from CAA (not taking into account their discount offers, which wouldn’t make much of a difference for us).

  19. Rohan on January 21, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    I will never recommend TD Roadside assistance program.The fine print on TD road side assistance is” towing services upto 200km TO THE NEAREST SERVICE STATION” Even though u have delux services you have to pay from your pocket if your car broke down in town and you have to take it to your Garage, they want tow. CAA is better it has many perks plus get 20% discount in duty free shop and many more… NEVER THINK ABOUT TD ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE PROGRAMM…It is cheat…

  20. Yohannes on February 15, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    When did you do this roadside comparison? with PC Financial Roadside Assistance your allowed up to 4 service calls per year for each vehicle covered.

  21. Sing on March 9, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    Stay away from Deluxe TD auto club. It sounds cheap but it is not. This plan was good and I used it twice before without any issue until they change the policy such that towing services upto 200km TO THE NEAREST SERVICE STATION”. My mechanic is 6 km from where my car was brokendown and TD auto club only covers 4 km based on their new policy. You will end up paying more in that NEAREST SERVICE STATION.

    • Robert on February 28, 2016 at 1:04 am

      It’s true TD Auto Club will only tow you to the nearest garage, but if you want to go further it’s something like $2/km. Not bad if your preferred mechanic isn’t too far away but it can add up if it’s a long distance. Myself or a family member has broken down or had a lock-out 2-3x in the last 8 years and a tow truck arrived within a reasonable time (40 mins). I like that it covers my spouse and unmarried kids no matter what vehicle they are driving. I pay $99/year for the TD Gold Elite VISA.

  22. Tenor on June 27, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    If you research this subject PROPERLY you will find that for a family with one car and multiple drivers, CT Roadside assistance (Gold) wins hands down. If you take advantage of the free and cheap oil changes the price is unbeatable. The number of tows are also unbeatable because if you are unfortunate enough to use up your 250km allowance (suggest you get a new car) there are unlimited tows to a CT repair shop. Finally, to the person who said you are only covered in Canada – rubbish. I have used it in the states with no problem. I can see that if you spend a lot of time in hotels, do a lot of cross border shopping (deals at the Duty Free) etc, then CAA has some advantages. To all other single car multiple driver situations, CT is the winner.

  23. R Young on November 10, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Something to note about TD Auto. There 200km limit is to the closest service center and not the destination of your choice. If the closest service center they have located is 50km away and you want it towed to your perfered service center that is 100km away you will be on the hook to pay for the extra 50km. Also note that they don’t take into concideration if the closest SC is open or not at the time you call.

  24. David on October 10, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    The TD Gold auto club is crap. Called Oct 10 2018 on a clear sunny day. 21 degrees. My van would not start and needed a tow. I phoned them on three different occasions and went through there ACD queue. The answer the phone after about 10 minutes and SAY they are putting on hold again. While on hold on the three occasions I waited half an hour twice and one hour once.
    The answered once to ask if I was with Belair or Intact insurance … duh .. not needed as I am with neither. Before you can object they transfer you to one of them. Go with CAA. They are way more reliable.

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