When To Tip Roadside Assistance & How Much (AAA, Flat Tire, Battery)

Written by Jim Belt in How Much To Tip

If your car breaks down and you're on the side of the road, you might want to know if you need to tip the roadside assistance. I've read dozens of policies, forums, and opinions of roadside assistance. Here's what most people do.

Do you tip roadside assistance, and how much? You're not required to tip roadside assistance. They are paid an hourly wage for their job. However, a lot of people do consider tipping their roadside mechanic, especially in special conditions. Most people seem to tip anywhere between $5 - $20.

I've collected examples of these special cases from all over the internet and made a list you can check out below. This way, you'll know exactly what most people do in your situation.

Tipping Customs

Tipping not customary

In this article:

  1. How Much To Tip Roadside Assistance
  2. Things To Consider
  3. Other Things You Could Do or Give
  4. What Do Roadside Technicians Make?
  5. What Roadside Assistants Think About It
  6. When Not To Tip
  7. To Summarize

How Much To Tip Roadside Assistance

There's no real etiquette on tipping roadside assistance. It really isn't required to tip them; however, most roadside truck drivers agree that tipping is very welcome and appreciated. It's hard work, and the hourly pay isn't great. Also, most roadside mechanics are very skilled and professional, and they can fix her up while keeping safety in mind.

They are also known to go out of their way to get you out of tricky situations. Some drivers will offer to give you a ride, stop at gas stations to pick up drinks, and so on. My experience is (and most people's) these people are just great and helpful, and they deserve to be rewarded for it.

AAA Roadside Assistance

Call AAA and ask them if it's required and they will tell you it isn't. Roadside assistants don't rely on tips for job compensation.

AAA membership costs between $40 - $165 per person per year, and these costs cover the cost of the towing company.
source: Nerdwallet.com

Geico Roadside Assistance

Geico Roadside Assistance can be as cheap as $14 per year. Like AAA, their drivers are paid by the hour and don't require a tip to pay their bills.

Here's how much people tip for different jobs

  • Jumpstart: $5
  • Locked out of car: $5
  • Flat tire change: $5
  • Tow $10
  • $20 is considered a great tip

When to tip:

  • If they are nice and make conversation
  • If they work for a company and aren't the owner
  • If they have to drive back for over an hour after the job is done
  • If it's snowing or raining
  • If it's particularly busy on the road, making the job more risky or difficult
  • If it's the middle of the night

Things To Consider

Roadside assistance is a difficult and hectic job. Most roadside mechanics go over and beyond to help you out. Mostly, they are just great service-minded people.

AAA pays local tow truck drivers to help out their members. They don't get paid by the hour so especially with difficult or more time-consuming jobs, it's really great if you could tip them a little.

Often times, roadside assistance companies are understaffed and it can be incredibly busy. Since it's stressful work already, the mechanics are pushed to perform.

Other Things You Could Do or Give

If you currently don't have the money to tip, you could give (or do) other things as well.

The roadside mechanic will understand for sure if you don't have the cash on hand. After all, you probably didn't plan on your car dying on you. You could give or do one of the following instead:

Here are other things you could do:

  • give them your coupons for free drinks or meals
  • leave a positive review online
  • ask for some business cards and share them

No money or freebies on you? Not to worry. Simply:

Make their lives easier by ...

  • Giving clear directions - what side on the road are you on, for example
  • Describe your vehicle on the phone, this helps them to find you
  • Don't negotiate about the price in the middle of the night

What Do Roadside Technicians Make?

  • At AAA, roadside technicians make on average $15 per hour.
  • However, the median national hourly wage is $19.51.

source: Payscale.com

What Roadside Assistants Think About It

Roadside assistance mechanics don't expect the tip, but most of them are grateful and will accept if you offer them.

Independent roadside technicians can make good money, especially if they run a car shop and provide assistance on the side. However, mechanics working for the large companies don't make a lot of money on jobs.

About 36% of drivers think they are paid fairly.

source: Indeed.com

When Not To Tip

They are unprofessional or rude

People that are rude don't deserve tips. Tipping is a way to show grattitude or appreciation and I wouldn't tip anyone that doesn't try to be nice to me. Similarly, if they are unprofessional, don't perform on the job, or leave you hanging, I wouldn't tip either.

They damage your car

This is uncommon, but it happens sometimes. If they damage your car, that's no reason to tip them of course. However, if they NEED to damage your car to get something done (fix a lockout for example), they'll most likely discuss with you and it could be perfectly fine.

They don't update you

If the driver runs late and doesn't update you, or doesn't keep you up to speed on the job and what he's doing, that's a reason to not tip. It's part of their job to keep you in the loop (a little). Don't expect to get one-minute-updates though. Can't do your job if you need to talk all the time.

They criticize your car

You shouldn't criticize people's cars - especially if you're an authority and know way more about cars than me! I've had this happen once, and it isn't a nice feeling. I know my car sucks, it's why I pay for roadside assistance in the first place.

To Summarize

There you have it. You pay for roadside assistance. The assistance companies pay the drivers, but the wage isn't great. Most people agree they will tip their roadside assistance if they do a good job and help them out quickly and professionally. The tip ranges anywhere between $5 - $20. Drivers themselves say anything from $5 - $10 is really appreciated. $20 is considered a great tip.

However, remember: kindness is the greatest tip of all.


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