If you need to call a towing company to transport your car, don't assume that the process will immediately be as straightforward as it is in the movies (generally some form of tow truck comes out, takes the car, you hand cash to the driver). Having your car towed is simple, but you need to be sure of a few considerations first. If you don't check these out before agreeing to have the company tow your car, you could get an unpleasant surprise when the towing commences.
Auto Club or Insurance Links
If you have an auto club membership, calling the club's number usually puts you in contact with associated towing companies whose costs are covered by the club. But if you don't belong to an auto club, or you need to have your car towed a substantial distance that's farther than what the club will pay for, you can see if your insurance will cover the towing, either through direct billing from the towing company or through reimbursing you. Don't assume that insurance coverage will be automatic.
Flat rates ensure you know exactly how much the towing will cost you if you have to pay out of pocket. Check that the rate covers all of the towing and not just the hookup; some companies have been known to charge additional fees for each mile towed. You want a final, concrete number before you agree to have the company take your car.
Sometimes your car has a number of things going on, some of which may be relatively simple. Some towing companies allow their drivers to do minor repairs that get you back on the road, and that may save you money once your car is in a repair shop. When you talk to the towing company, tell them everything that's going on and see if any of those issues are ones the driver can take care of. Remember that not all companies do this, so don't be disappointed if the driver doesn't do anything other than tow the car.
Policy on Getting You Home
Some tow companies will tow your car to a shop and leave it and you there; others will take the car and you to wherever you need to go, such as bringing you home after leaving the car at a shop. This can also depend on how busy a company is. Find out when you call if you'll need to arrange transportation home for yourself, or if the driver can help you out.
Towing companies do want to help you, but they also have their own ways of doing things. It's best to get the whole picture before arranging for the tow.