You’re driving down a country road when suddenly your engine makes a funny noise and smoke billows out from under the hood… When a situation like this arises, it’s handy to be able to call on a roadside assistance service. This type of protection provides help when you have a problem on the road, whether it’s to tow a broken-down vehicle, pick you up after in case of a totaled car, or fit a spare tire. In this article, we’ll learn about the best roadside assistance programs in Canada and the services they offer. Let’s hit the road!
What is a roadside assistance program?
Roadside assistance offers a range of services to help car drivers with a problem on the road. It shouldn’t be confused with car insurance, which is totally different and covers civil liability and damage to your vehicle. Unlike the third-party liability aspect of car insurance coverage, roadside assistance is not mandatory and is an optional benefit that complements your insurance. To find a insurance that includes this coverage, compare car insurance policies. Roadside assistance is offered not only by insurance companies, but also by several car manufacturers and some credit cards. Compare credit cards to find one that offers attractive automobile benefits, as well as discounts on gasoline and electric vehicle charging.
What services are offered by roadside assistance programs?
Not all roadside assistance programs are the same, but the following services can be found among those offered:
- Towing to a garage in case of breakdown;
- Changing a flat tire;
- Boosting a battery;
- Fuel delivery;
- Winching (freeing a stuck vehicle);
- Door unlocking;
- Drive-home assistance.
These services obviously come with certain conditions. For example, you are often limited to a certain number of calls per year. Towing to a garage is also usually limited to a maximum distance from the breakdown site, and fuel delivery to a maximum number of litres. Other limitations may exist, so it is always important to read all the conditions on your contract carefully.
We have compiled a list of the best roadside assistance programs in Canada. These are divided into three categories: programs included (for free) with credit cards, programs offered by insurers, and programs offered by car manufacturers.
The best retailer roadside assistance programs
Some retailers offer interesting roadside assistance programs worth checking out.
Canadian Tire is a leader in road safety and offers various levels of coverage. The programs cover drivers, but Canadian Tire also offers family and vehicle-specific coverage too. You can subscribe directly to the program or apply for a Canadian Tire credit card.
The Gold Member Plan provides comprehensive coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in Canada and the United States. This coverage is available for $114.99 plus tax per year, with an additional cost of $74.99 plus tax for a secondary member. Prices may be lower following promotional offers. You are entitled to 5 service calls per year.
Towing to the destination of your choice is available up to 200 km per call. However, please note that towing to a Canadian Tire Centre is not considered a service call and is therefore unlimited! The Gold Program provides two tow trucks for 60 minutes for the towing and recovery service.
You are also entitled to delivery of up to $5 worth of fuel in case you run out of gas. Battery boosting, unlocking and tire replacement with your spare are also available. You are also entitled to $300 in travel accident assistance, and access to exclusive offers and discounts on oil changes, car washes, travel, hotels and much more.
If you don’t want to sign up for one of Canadian Tire’s programs, you can still use on-demand roadside assistance in case something goes wrong. The various services are available for a fee: for example, a tow to a Canadian Tire Auto Centre within 10 km costs $70 plus tax.
Canadian Tire offers a total of 6 roadside assistance plans:
- Silver member plan
- Gold member plan (described in this article)
- Silver family plan
- Gold family plan
- Silver vehicle plan
- Gold vehicle plan
Member plans provide coverage for registered individuals, regardless of whether they are drivers or passengers, whereas vehicle plans provide coverage for registered cars, regardless of the driver. The main differencebetween Silver and Gold roadside assistance relate to the distance covered, of 10 km and 200 km respectively, and the number of service calls.
Costco used to be another big retailer offering roadside assistance at a relatively low cost. Nowadays, Costco members are offered roadside assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if they subscribe to a Costco/Inova car insurance policy. Roadside assistance is a coverage that you can add to your car insurance policy. It is not a standard coverage that is automatically included. Basically, Inova is a broker that partners with many insurance companies. Each company charges a different premium and provides different coverage.
The best credit card roadside assistance programs
Some credit cards include roadside assistance as a benefit. Among them, we find a Canadian Tire Mastercard World Elite, one of the best TD credit cards and one of BMO’s cards.
The Triangle World Elite Mastercard
Annual fee: None
Interest rate: 19.99% for purchases, 22.99% for cash advances and balance transfers (21.99% in Quebec)
The Triangle World Elite Mastercard is offered by Canadian Tire. It is available with no annual fee and an income requirement of $80,000 in personal income per year or $150,000 per household. In addition to its generous rewards, this card offers Gold Roadside Assistance. This credit card is an easy way to get around paying the annual fee of Canadian Tire roadside assistance. The only difference is that you are entitled to towing up to 250 km.
Its benefits go beyond roadside assistance. The World Elite Triangle card lets you earn Canadian Tire cash back. You get 4% on almost everything at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, Mark’s, L’Équipeur, Atmosphere, Party City, Pro Hockey Life, Sports Rousseau, Hockey Experts, L’Entrepôt du Hockey and select Sports Experts stores. You also get a 7¢ per liter on Super gasoline and 5¢ per liter on all other types of fuel when you fill up at Gas+ stations. And that’s not all! In grocery stores, you get 3%, and everywhere else, 1%. Then you exchange that CT money for free merchandise ($1 in Canadian Tire ‘money’ equals $1 Canadian).
TD Cash Back Visa Infinite* Card
The TD CashBack Visa Infinite card entitles you to a free membership to the Deluxe TD Auto Club, which offers one of the most comprehensive roadside assistance services in the country. At $139 annually, this card is only available to those with a minimum personal income of $60,000 per year or a household income of $100,000. Available throughout Canada and the continental U.S., the Deluxe TD Auto Club Membership entitles you to 6 service calls per year.
The Deluxe TD Car Membership entitles you to full emergency towing and breakdown services within a 200 km radius. If your car runs out of fuel, you are entitled to free delivery of 5 L of gasoline. You also benefit from personal transport up to 80 km from your home in case of a mechanical breakdown. In addition, in the event that TD Auto Club cannot dispatch its services or be reached, you can contact the service of your choice and request a refund, for an amount up to $250 depending on the service.
The services offered by the Deluxe TD Auto Club Membership don’t stop there. You are entitled to emergency services in the event of a traffic accident, vehicle theft or inclement weather. The TD Auto Club will reimburse you for the following situations:
- Towing after a car accident (up to $200)
- Emergency transport or rental car (up to $200)
- Emergency accommodation and meals (up to $200)
- Return to the scene of the repairs or the recovered stolen vehicle (up to $200)
- Basic personal expenses at the hotel (up to $50)
In case of an accident, there is no distance limit for emergency services. If your car is stolen, you must be more than 80 km from home and have reported the theft to the police and your insurance company. In the event of bad weather, you must be more than 80 km from home to be eligible for towing within a 200 km radius.
Your Deluxe TD Auto Club membership provided with your TD CashBack Visa Infinite card also gives access to legal services if you are charged with a traffic violation and reimburses you for a portion of the costs. You are entitled to legal advice (reimbursed up to $150), legal defense ($300) and legal representation at an investigation ($300).
BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard
With the BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard, you have access to basic BMO Roadside Assistance coverage. The card costs $120 per year and is available to individuals with an annual personal income of at least $80,000 or a household income of $150,000. The service covers Canada and the continental United States, including Alaska, and allows for 4 calls per year.
If your car breaks down, towing is available to the nearest repair center, within a 10 km radius. Approximately 10 litres of gas, or the amount needed to get to the nearest gas station, is available. However, the cost of the fuel is your responsibility. Winching includes a single recovery vehicle for one hour. You are also entitled to battery boosting, door unlocking and tire changing.
The BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard is also an excellent credit card to earn cash back. You get 5% on groceries, 4% on transit, 3% on gas, 2% on recurring bill payments and 1% on all other purchases. You can then redeem your cash back any time and for as little as $1.
The best roadside assistance programs from insurers in Canada
Many insurers include a roadside assistance option in their range of coverages. Here are the best ones.
CAA is another great roadside assistance provider. Three levels of membership are available: CAA Classic, CAA Plus and CAA Premier, but various membership plans may be available depending on which province you live in.
For example, for Ontario residents in the Greater Toronto Area, the CAA Plus entitles you to a towing service of up to 200 km, and 4 free service calls a year. You are also entitled to Road Trip Accident Assitance if you are in a reportable collision while on a road trip holiday, as well as free delivery of enough fuel to reach the nearest gas station.
You are also entitled to battery boosting and replacement, flat tire replacement, and some minor mechanical adjustments on site. Door unlocking and roadside assistance for your bicycle trips are also available. A patroller will secure your bicycle to his vehicle and escort you to the location of your choice according to the terms of the contract.
CAA membership plans, pricing, and covered services vary by province. To find the best CAA plan for your needs, visit the CAA National website and select Services, then Membership, and your province of residence.
Desjardins offers a roadside assistance service that provides double protection: you are covered no matter what vehicle you drive, and your vehicle is covered no matter who the driver is. The annual fee starts at $98.89 to register one vehicle and increases as you add more vehicles.
You get 5 calls per year anywhere in Canada and the continental United States. You are entitled to towing to a garage within a 10 km radius, as well as fuel delivery. However, the cost of fuel is not covered. Finally, you are also entitled to other basic services, such as unlocking, boosting, towing and tire changing.
Beneva, the company that resulted from the merger of La Capitale and SSQ Insurance, offers a comprehensive roadside assistance service. Wondering how much it costs? You’ll have to get a quote to get your answer.
Available in Canada and the United States (except Alaska and Hawaii), this service entitles you to 4 calls per year. Towing is available for up to 50 km and in the event of running out of gas, you are entitled to 10 litres of free gas. Other standard services are also available. Additional services include trip planning assistance and coverage for trip interruption (accomodation fees, car rental, etc).
Intact Insurance offers roadside assistance as an additional option you can add to your car insurance policy. Prices vary depending on the deductible selected, and which province you live in. Roadside assistance is available at any time in Canada and the United States and you are entitled to 4 service calls per year.
You are entitled to towing within a 50 km radius and free delivery of 10 litres of gas. You are also entitled to battery boosting, door unlocking, wheel changing and winching. Intact Insurance also offers roadside assistance for recreational vehicles, motorbikes, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles (ATV).
The best roadside assistance programs from car manufacturers
Most car manufacturers nowadays offer some form of roadside protection. Here are the ones that stand out.
New owners of Honda vehicles are eligible for Honda Plus Roadside Assistance. This program is available for 3 years from the date of vehicle registration. It covers all of Canada and the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
You are entitled to towing to a Honda dealer of your choice within 100 km or the nearest one within 500 km. If your vehicle breaks down within 100 km of your home, you’ll receive up to $200 towards emergency transportation costs.
Battery boosting, flat tire replacement and fuel delivery (fuel cost at your expense) are also included. Winching is covered up to $200. Honda Plus also offers other services, including a road map service to help you prepare for your getaways. If a repair takes more than 5 hours or if they don’t have the parts you need, Honda will pay you $45 a day for a rental vehicle for up to five days.
Honda Plus also offers Trip Interruption Assistance if you have a breakdown more than 100 km from home. You will be reimbursed for accommodation, meals and car rental expenses up to $500. If you have an accident while you are more than 100 km away from your home, your vehicle will be towed to a Honda dealership and your expenses covered up to $600.
Toyota roadside assistance
Toyota offers 3 years of roadside assistance to new owners, with no mileage limit. Service is available in Canada, the United States and U.S. territories. Towing is available to the Toyota dealer of your choice within 50 km or to the nearest dealer within 300 km.
Battery boosting, winching and tire replacement is available, as well as delivery of up to 5L of gas. For battery or hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, your vehicle will be towed to the nearest recharging or refueling station. Door unlocking is also available, however labour and replacement keys are at your expense. If, for any reason, Toyota Assistance cannot be reached, you may be reimbursed for other services up to $250 for towing and $100 for emergency services.
GM’s OnStar Safety & Security
For $39.99 per month, you can subscribe to both OnStar and Remote Access. If you have trouble on the road, just push your OnStar or emergency button in your car. Roadside Assistance is part of this plan and includes emergency towing and towing for a flat-tire change or a jump-start. In fact, advisors will locate the nearest service provider to install your spare tire, perform a jump-start or tow you to the nearest GM dealer or service facility. They can also coordinate the delivery of fuel. What we like about this program is its advisor-assisted remote door unlock feature. An employee will quickly unlock your doors from a distance if you lock yourself out. You will also be able to use your vehicle’s mobile app to unlock doors.
Ford roadside assistance
We like Ford’s 5 year/100,000 km (whichever occurs first) coverage for cars and light trucks because it is quite comprehensive compared to most car dealers. Light diesel trucks get a 5 year/160,000 km warranty and heavy trucks get 2 years (unlimited number of kilometers).
Ford’s roadside assistance includes winching, mechanical breakdown or accident towing to the nearest Ford dealership or dealer approved body shop (up to a maximum of 50 km in the case of an accident), battery boost, towing to the closest public charging station for electric vehicles (or the nearest participating Ford EV-certified dealer or your home). It also includes the delivery of up to 10 L of fuel to stranded vehicles (i.e. vehicles that are out of fuel and not running), replacing a flat tire with a spare (if provided with the vehicle) and a lockout service.
FAQs on roadside assistance services
Roadside assistance typically involves contacting a service provider who will dispatch a professional to help with common vehicle issues like flat tires, dead batteries, or lockouts.
Whether or not your auto insurance includes roadside assistance depends on the specific protections you have chosen, as some insurance companies offer it as an optional add-on while others include it in their standard coverage.
The answer to this question depends on the roadside assistance program you choose. Canadian Tire member plans and the TD Cash Back Visa Infinite credit card cover you regardless of the vehicle, while other programs insure only a specific car.
Technically, it’s possible. Battery testing and boosting, for example, can be performed anywhere, as can door unlocking. On the other hand, most of the situations covered by roadside assistance plans don’t apply if you’re at home.
Roadside assistance programs usually offer a tire change in the event of a flat, which is not the same as patching a tire. If you have a spare tire in your trunk, they’ll install it to replace your flat tire. If you don’t have a spare tire, you’ll have to check with the plan you’ve chosen to see whether they can do it, tow you free of charge or whether you’ll have to pay for the service.
The time it takes for roadside assistance to arrive depends on various factors such as location, traffic conditions, and service provider availability, but they aim to reach you within an hour on average.
To check if you have roadside assistance, you can review your auto insurance policy or contact your insurance provider directly to inquire about the details of your coverage. To check if you have roadside assistance from your car manufacturer, they sometimes put a sticker in your car window with the basic information. If not, call them directly.
Canadian Tire changed the cost of its roadside assistance in July 2023. It is still a good program if you don’t already have access to roadside assistance with your car insurer or car manufacturer. It offers different plans with various benefits, including services like towing, battery boosts, fuel delivery, and lockout assistance. The value of the service depends on your individual needs and preferences.
Tesla provides roadside assistance to its owners as part of their warranty coverage, and it is generally available for free during the warranty period.
Allstate offers roadside assistance as an optional add-on ($8/month) to its auto insurance policies, providing services like towing, flat tire changes, fuel delivery, and lockout assistance, among others.
BMW offers roadside assistance for a limited period as part of their new vehicle warranty, typically covering services like towing, jump-starts, fuel delivery, and lockout assistance.
American Express Platinum no longer includes roadside assistance, like other American Express credit cards.
BCAA’s basic plan includes 4 service calls per year, towing on 5 km, battery service and replacement, bike assist, a free Evo car share membership, and a bunch of discounts! Their Plus and Premier plans also include more benefits and towing over longer distances.
The Jeep factory warranty includes roadside assistance including towing, jump-starts, flat tire assistance, lockout assistance and fuel delivery services.
Yes, Kia has roadside assistance covering services like towing, jump-starts, fuel delivery, and lockout assistance.
Yes, Mazda Canada offers roadside assistance with the basic warranty coverage on new cars. It expires 36 months from the vehicle warranty start date.
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