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When Should You Tow Your Car and When Is it Safe to Drive to the Shop?

July 8, 2020

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Owning your own car has a lot of advantages. It allows you to avoid the hassle of commuting, especially if you are from a state that doesn’t have a well-developed public transportation system. On top of this, owning your car gives you the independence to travel at your own pace without needing to adjust your schedule according to others.

But always keep in mind that owning a car is not just a luxury, it is also a responsibility. You must always keep it well-maintained and capable to determine when your car is having some issues that need to be repaired.

Here are common car problems and issues that you may encounter every now and then:

  • Car Accidents

  • Flat Tires

  • Battery Issues

  • Broken Warning Lights

  • Alternator Failure

  • Failing Brakes

  • Broken Starter Motor

  • Overheating

To Tow or Not to Tow?

Regardless of how careful you are, there will always be a time when your car will act up. While some issues can be fixed without any professional assistance, some will just be too complicated for you to resolve on your own.

For cases like these, your biggest concern probably will be whether you need the services of a tow company or not. Sometimes, a mechanic can just come to your location and resolve the issue. However, there are instances where this is just impossible. The only option you have is to either call a tow truck or drive your car to an auto repair shop.

Most folks’ initial reaction might be to drive the vehicle to a shop by themselves. This is probably because they are not willing to spend extra on the towing services. Unfortunately, this is not always possible.

Listed below are some considerations to help you determine whether to have your car towed or not:

Things to Consider Before Calling a Towing Service

Can You Start the Car?
The first thing to check is if you can start the car. If your car won’t start no matter how many attempts you try, you don’t have a choice but to have it towed.

However, even if you can start your car, it doesn’t mean that driving it to an auto repair shop will be a good idea. If you are experiencing frequent breakdowns or your car stalls, it would be best to call a tow company instead.

If that’s the case, what you must do is just drive your car to the side of the road — preferably in a safe and comfortable spot, then call for a tow company. That way, you don’t have to wait in the middle of the road, causing traffic and putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation.

Do You Have Flat Tires?
Flat tires is a common issue probably every car owner has experienced at least once. If you don’t know how to change a tire, or don’t have a spare on-hand, you don’t have a choice but to call a tow company.

But not just because you know how to change tires means that you must do it by yourself. You must ascertain the situation first.

If the incident happened while you’re in the middle of the highway, changing your tire by yourself might be dangerous. Consider calling a tow truck instead to move your vehicle to a safer place.

Are there Smoke and Sudden Loud Noises?
If there is smoke or vapor coming from the hood of your car, don’t take your chances and call a tow company immediately. Smoke, vapor, or burning smell could indicate serious mechanical or electrical issues. The best thing you can do is to get far away from your car and call a tow company or roadside assistance for help.

Likewise, having your car towed is also what you should do when you suddenly hear loud noises coming from your car. At the instant you start hearing any loud noise, pull over immediately. Try to find where the noise is coming from and what causes it. Different noises can be heard from a car having issues, such as screeching or whirring from under the hood.

If you can’t figure out what causes the noise don’t attempt to drive your vehicle as it could be a sign of a more serious problem. Call a tow company and have your car brought to an auto repair shop for inspection and repair.

Are You Having Difficulty in Driving?
Any safety concerns while driving should not be ignored. Thousands of fatal motor vehicle crashes happen in the United States each year. In 2018 alone, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that there were 36, 560 road-related deaths for that year.

To prevent any unwanted road accident from occurring, it is best to pull over immediately once you start feeling any issues with regard to steering your car. Same thing goes if you are experiencing any problems with your brake. Once you feel any indication of failing brakes, call a towing company immediately.

What to Do When a Tow is Required

If you are experiencing any of the above mentioned signs, don’t hesitate and call a tow company as soon as possible. Depending on your situation, you may have different options on who to call to tow your car. You can reach out to your insurance company or car company to know if they have a roadside assistance service to recommend. Otherwise, you can call any local tow company available in the area.

When calling a tow company, do not forget to ask the following questions:

  • What is the price estimate?

  • How will they tow your car?

  • Where will they take your car?

Different tow companies offer different sets of services and prices. With that, you must ask the right types of questions as soon as you get with their representative over the phone.

While waiting for the truck, take pictures of the damage. You can use this in your documentation if you are planning to get a reimbursement from your insurance company. You can also use those photos as evidence in case any unexpected damage is incurred by your car while being towed.

Once the towing truck arrives, fill out all the paperwork immediately. Follow as well initial instructions given by the tow truck driver (e.g. setting your car to neutral) for a smoother towing service process.


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