CHOICE membership

How to get the best roadside assistance


#1

We offer some advice on getting the best roadside assistance.

Do you subscribe to a service? If so, please tell us about your experience in the comments below.


#2

I’ve had firsthand experience with the roadside assistance offered by Youi for free with their comprehensive cover. It was fast, the call taker was helpful and made sure she followed up to make sure everything was resolved. If you already have Youi Comprehensive, don’t worry about separate roadside assistance unless you have specific needs.


#3

We’ve been with NRMA for many years and the roadside service has been quite reasonable, although dealing with a call centre (location: who knows where?) person with no local knowledge of the road network can be a real PITA sometimes! Wait times have not been too bad, considering the locations involved. Free use of a loan car (even if it was quite an old Falcon) on one occasion when the car was out of action for a week helped a lot.


#4

When we bought a new HSV upgraded Holden Stateman in 1995, the purchase included 5 years of roadside assistance, which in regional Qld was contracted out to the RACQ.

On one occasion when we were travelling home to Cairns from Brisbane, we ran out of fuel on the southside of Rockhampton and just managed to roll past the very large roundabout and off the highway.

I called the roadside assistance number, and then rang a further 2 times to ask what was happening.

I ended giving up in disgust after well over half an hour, and I called a taxi to take me to the nearest servo to get a jerry can of fuel and returned to our vehicle, emptied the jerry can into the tank, and drove to the servo to fill up.

The RACQ had still not turned up when we got underway again.

It has been pretty much par for the course for our experiences with the RACQ, even when we were members and wasting hundreds of dollars in membership fees.

As our 5-year roadside assistance for our current Honda CRV expires this September, I was wondering what we should do, but we will now add roadside assistance to our Suncorp Car Insurance.

We would not even consider the RACQ based on our past less-than-satisfactory experiences, let alone with our personal experiences with the person they have for their Cairns agent.

On an aside, on our way to Rockhampton, the display was showing that we could travel well over 100 km on the remaining fuel and the distance to Rockhampton was well under 100 km.

This situation continually changed until the display showed the distance we could travel was well under the remaining distance.

We have never owned a vehicle with an accurate fuel gauge and/or which accurately displayed the distance we could travel on the remaining fuel, including our current Honda CRV, but at least when we had our fully restored and upgraded XW Falcon GT with its 36 gallon (160 litre) Bathurst fuel tank, we would never run out.

We would leave Cairns early in the morning with our 3 children in the back seat, who would go back to sleep as we drove non-stop to Mackay, and we would still have a quarter of a tank of fuel left.

When I filled up with around 120 litres of Super, the look on the console attendant’s face had to be seen to be appreciated. It was one of utter disbelief as he wondered if their system had gone haywire.


#5

I’ve had good service through RACQ, although I am an infrequent user. I started on Basic but upgraded when I worked in far Western Qld because it was conceivable that I would need more than 50km towing. I had about 3 incidents in 15 years which required towing about 200+km. As my membership now covers any car I drive, my husband locking the keys in his car was covered.

There are a number of discounts and deals connected with membership, that I could not take advantage of, (eg 2nd meal free, 10% off) due to my remote location. The only motel I tried had a rate for “last minute” which was cheaper than normal rate less 10% for RACQ. I believe there are a lot more Regional area deals now, and I did use the “8 cents a litre off” at Puma once. Guess I saved about $50 over 40 years. But my primary reason is for remote area roadside assistance.


#6

We have been members of RACQ for many years.

Only used them once for a battery which died and the service was prompt and reasonable. They did say that during peak times, there can be delays in providing the service as demand can outstrip the number of support vehicles available. We called during a lull period.


#7

In over 40 years of membership x two drivers we have only ever once had to get a tow when the timing belt failed in the Honda Civic 30 years past. The Honda was short of the km’s for replacement, but well past the olden days 12 month warranty. The tow cost nothing which paid for at least ten years of membership with NRMA.

Since then there has been the occasional stranding due to a flat battery between the two of us, and one locked keys in car. All with RACQ as the service provider.

Each call has been met within an hour as far as we can recollect. Great given the locations sometimes.

We have never had to make a call under any new car support package, despite living in regional or rural areas, and doing many longer journeys. Modern cars if routinely maintained appear to be highly reliable. Some brands or models excluded!!

Given we are covered by driver for any vehicle the relative value of the RACQ membership and level of cover seems reasonable. If a new car came with a breakdown assistance package, we might reconsider. Currently the 4c per litre discount at Puma works to our advantage and probably matches the annual membership cost. Puma typically undercut the Woolies outlet in the next town, which ensures this is a true saving. The roadside service is a bonus.


#8

I’ve been with the RAA for about 40 years. Although I have rarely called them, they’ve always been fast, effective and helpful. On a stinking hot day, stranded somewhere far away, it’s worth the years of not needing it. We insure our cars and van through them and rates and action have been fantastic.


#9

I’ve had NRMA membership since 1981. I’ve probably used their roadside assistance about a dozen times. Each time, the patrol was friendly and efficient except for the most recent.

I was looking after a friend’s car whilst he was overseas. It was less than three years old and had been regularly dealer-serviced ( supposedly ). I parked on a fairly steep incline and when I applied the parking brake, I noted that I needed to pull the handle up quite a way but it raised with very little effort. When it came time to release it, it was jammed ( due to a serious design flaw on the part of the manufacturer ).

I called the NRMA, explained that I was a Gold member, and was driving a car that wasn’t mine. They said as I was a Gold member, it would be no trouble to send a patrol to help me out.

The patrolman arrived after about 20 minutes, and appeared flustered and annoyed. I got the impression that he’d had a couple of bad jobs to attend to already. He jumped in the car and proceeded to do all the things I had, in an attempt to release the handbrake. He asked, “Why the f… did you apply the handbrake so hard ?”. Then with much cursing and swearing, he fetched tools to disconnect the cable.

As he was packing the tools back in his van, he commented, “Take it to the dealer. Don’t touch the handbrake again. You’re f…ing dangerous !”.

I appreciate that everyone can have a bad day, but that wasn’t what I expected from someone dealing with a long-term member ( or anyone for that matter ). I called NRMA to offer my feedback and was told that someone would speak with the patrolman. I didn’t hear anything further from them.

I don’t believe there is much value in many of their discounts for members. The 5c/litre fuel discount at Caltex outlets is a joke, as I can always do better elsewhere (often within a couple of km of the nearest Caltex). I note that some other members claim to save a fortune by shopping and showing their NRMA membership card.


#10

Totally agree with that! The few times (all years ago) I’ve asked for the NRMA discount at motels, and other businesses, I’ve been told I’m already getting the best price. Their claimed member discounts are nothing more than a waste of time to ask for in my experience.


#11

In addition many of the discounts require purchase from the auto clubs web site, not from the business, requiring planning ahead with its associated inconveniences for a day or few away or doing whatever.

Plus so many businesses have some discount offer, often through the Entertainment book (often a seriously reduced version) that it all becomes noise. My suspicion is the ‘discount’ plans bank (pun intended) on it all becoming noise so they receive their fees and need not deliver many discounts.


#12

Totally agree with you here, the marketing machine is in full swing.


#13

We are with the RAA and have a premium service to cover our distant travels. We’ve been members for over 50 years and although we have used them infrequently they have been excellent. Covers the driver, not the car, a very good feature. Recently we had the misfortune to lock our car with the keys inside and our small dog inside. No idea how it happened, but we rang the RAA and we have two patrols there in next to no time and they unlocked the car and we rescued our dog. It wasn’t a hot day, thank goodness. We also have roadside assist with our cars, from the makers, but as it’s linked to a motoring organisation it seems to be a double up.


#14

They are a hydra that provides many members with an essential low paid breakdown support service.

This is something that may also come “free” with a new car purchase or servicing commitments to a dealer. Alternately with an independent maintenance service.

The “free” add in is no doubt built in as an add on cost to the service, hence not really free?

Given how readily the topic is generating interest in the broader aspects of the value of the paid AA memberships. Might it be a good time to revive my prior suggestion of a Choice review of motoring organisations?

My experience of the members discount schemes for travel, accommodation, car parts are that you can do better without. Often discounts are only applied to the full rrp, or room rack rates with items costing you more!


#15

Very good suggestion. I’ll be sure to pass this on :+1: