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Roadside Assistance: What Will Insurance Cover?


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Roadside Assistance: What Will Insurance Cover?

Until an incident six months ago, I mainly considered my car insurance to be something I would use if an accident occurred. After being stranded at work with a car that wouldn't start, I learned there was more to my plan than that. There is a whole section that has to do with roadside assistance. The guy driving the tow truck asked if my insurance covered emergency calls and I said I didn't know. He asked me the name of the company and then called his boss. After a quick word with my provider, he found out that I was covered in full. If you are not sure if your car insurance covers roadside assistance, let me tell you how to find out. After going over specific clauses in the contract, I'm betting you are covered for everything from a flat tire to a dead battery.

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Need A Tow? Three Reasons Why Most Modern Cars Need A Car Carrier

Pick up a 1955 Chevy with a sling-back tow truck and you're more apt to tweak the truck's frame than the steel bumper on that Chevy. Back then, cars were made of steel, and not much else except for the tires and the upholstery. Modern cars are made of a combination of steel, fiberglass and plastic. The light weight is great for gas mileage, but the more fragile components don't fare as well when towed. Below are the differences between a sling tow truck and a car carrier and three reasons to choose the latter if your modern ride needs a "lift."

Sling Tow Truck vs. Car Carrier

  • Sling tow trucks have been around for decades. The basic towing mechanism consists of a boom, the piece of metal that bears the weight of the car, and the sling. The sling is made of one or two lengths of heavy rubber, framed on the top and bottom. It attaches to the boom by one or more "J" hooks, which look like oversized fishing hooks. Two more "J" hooks on heavy duty chains are attached to the car's frame and help hold the sling in place.  Cables attached to the boom move the sling up and down as needed. Braces can be placed between the sling and the bumper, but on modern cars that doesn't always work.
  • Car carriers look like regular flatbed trucks, but the bed part moves back and then tilts up. The car may be pushed or driven onto the back and then "J" hooks are attached to the frame to keep it in place. The bed is moved back to the level position and the car is towed flat. There is nothing pressing against the bumpers.

Three Reasons to Go With a Car Carrier

Fiberglass or Plastic Bumpers

The bumpers on that old Chevy were designed to stand up to anything it ran into. The bumpers on a modern car are designed to absorb energy when hit. New bumpers on most passenger cars are made of plastic or fiberglass, often with high-density foam inside to absorb shock. Some bumpers are almost flush with the front of the car, especially on sporty models designed for speed. Pick a modern car up with a sling tow truck and you're likely to tweak the entire bumper.

Low Clearance

Many modern cars are built low to the ground. Sometimes there's no room for a tow truck to get the sling under the car. After market items like spoilers or air dams, which are usually all fiberglass or plastic, make the problem worse.  While these low-slung cars do have a sporty vibe, the low clearance makes them better candidates for the car carrier.

Transmission Issues

When you tow a car, you can no longer just assume that the drive wheels are on the back. Pick a front-wheel drive car up from the back and you're apt to ruin the transmission. The reverse is true for rear-wheel drive. With a car carrier, none of the wheels touch the ground while towing. They are especially helpful if the "towing end" of the car is too damaged to allow a proper tow.

For more information about towing services, contact a company like Frank's Towing.