Do I Have to Be With My Car for AAA to Tow it?

AAA offers exceptional roadside assistance services to its members. If your car breaks down in the middle of the road and you are wondering whether you have to be with your vehicle for AAA to tow it, the answer is yes.

Do I Have to Be With My Car for AAA to Tow it

AAA needs its members to be present at the breakdown location regardless of whether they were driving or riding the vehicle. They must also present their membership details to get verified and confirmation to tow the car.

Since AAA is a first go-to service, this article shall expound more on the basic queries and guidelines for AAA members.

About AAA Roadside Assistance

The American Automobile Association (AAA) is a non-profit motor organization that offers annual membership plans.

It is a roadside assistance service that offers AAA members coverage for all roadside emergencies that leave one stranded on the road.

These may include:

  • Vehicle towing
  • Winching
  • Battery replacement and Jump start services
  • Mechanical auto repairs
  • Tire change
  • Fuel delivery
  • Locksmith service

How Does AAA Roadside Assistance Work?

You may need to apply for a membership plan to enjoy AAA roadside assistance coverage’s incredible services and discounts. You can pay for the Classic plan and get AAA’s basic benefits or choose the Plus and Premier plans for additional services.

AAA roadside assistance works if your vehicle breaks down on the road for any reason. Thus, if you are experiencing a flat tire, need a battery or baking system repair, or need emergency fuel, make a service call to enjoy the services.

The AAA roadside assistance service is open 24/7 and applies to all United States and Canada members. The service also covers you in any eligible vehicle you may be riding in or driving.

Additionally, to get the roadside service, you may need to have the following details prepared:

  1. The location of the disabled vehicle.
  2. The description of the disabled car.
  3. The type of service required.
  4. Your AAA membership card and valid ID photo.
  5. A working phone number.

Can AAA Tow Your Car without You Being There?

Unfortunately, AAA requires an active member with the car at the time of service. Why? Because it reduces any liability issues. The AAA believes that a member’s presence offers security for them and their vehicle.

However, only in certain circumstances does AAA bend the rules and allow the member to make towing arrangements if they are far. Such cases include a member’s serious accident that prompted immediate medical attention.

Only at this time can they call AAA directly and explain their circumstance to get the approval to tow their vehicle.

Do I Have to Be With My Car for AAA to Tow it

AAA Towing Rules in Summary

Roadside assistance emergencies are inevitable, but it pays to be an AAA member and get assistance if you need your vehicle towed.

Here are some of the towing rules set by AAA:

Know Your Breakdown Location

If you get into a minor car accident or the engine stops working, you may need to tow your car to the nearest auto repair shop. However, if you have an AAA membership, you need not worry about the towing process; instead, be sure of your location.

So, if you are parked or stranded on the side of the road, it is best to find out the street’s name, route number, mile marker, and city or town.

These location details are often sufficient enough for the tow truck driver to find you faster and render their roadside assistance services.

Understand Your Towing Distance Coverage Depends on Your AAA Membership Plan

Let’s look at some towing rules that apply to all three plans.

  • Classic/Basic plan. Classic members are only entitled to having their vehicle towed for 3 to 5 miles from the point of breakdown. Additionally, your car can get towed to the nearest AAA-accepted auto repair facility or independent contractor station.
  • Plus plan. The Plus membership plan allows towers to tow their cars 100 miles from the breakdown site. They can also choose their preferred tow truck driver and get the vehicle towed to the nearest AAA-approved auto repair shop or independent contractor station.
  • Premier plan. As an AAA premier member, you can get your car towed up to 200 miles offering the most convenience of all the plans.

Make Direct Payments to Tow Truck Operators and Drivers

AAA is adamant that their members pay directly for the services rendered by the tow truck operator and the driver in the event you need roadside assistance.

Your Vehicle Should be Registered

AAA only tows vehicles registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with no missing tags. The AAA enforces this rule to prevent criminal activity and car resellers from abusing the policy.

AAA Members Should be Present at the Breakdown Location

The members must be present with the vehicle when the tow service arrives.

Thus, no one should expect AAA and its contract facilities to assume responsibility for an unattended vehicle. This rule helps in reducing liability issues.

However, they allow members with justifying circumstances to explain their absence at the breakdown location when the tow truck arrives.

How Do I Get AAA Roadside Assistance?

You may be required to sign up for an AAA membership plan to get roadside assistance. Thus, if you need this service, consider contacting the AAA service line, which is available to all its members 24/7. 

a)    AAA Roadside Assistance Cost

AAA members do not incur roadside assistance costs on the type of service needed, provided they are within their tow-mile radius.

However, they are charged $4 per mile, provided their towing requirements exceed those covered in the package.

b)    AAA Membership Plans

AAA offers the Classic/Basic, Plus, and Premier membership level plans. Although all the plans provide their members with incredible roadside assistance benefits, each plan has its additional perks.

  • AAA Classic. This membership plan affords members the basic benefits of towing vehicles up to 5 miles. It is the cheapest plan costing about $40 to $74 annually.
  • AAA Plus. This policy offers up to 100 miles of towing service. The plan costs about $60 to $124 a year.
  • AAA Premier. The Premier membership plan is the highest level of service that AAA offers its members. For only $77-$164 annually, premier members can enjoy all the AAA benefits.


Below are common FAQs about AAA roadside assistance:

Will AAA tow a car that is not mine?

Yes, AAA can tow a car not registered under your name since AAA membership covers the member and not the vehicle in use. Thus, if you are driving a rental car or someone else’s vehicle, you can get it towed if you provide your membership information when the service provider arrives. 

How many free tows do you get with AAA?

The number of free tows you can get with AAA depends on the service and membership plan. For example, suppose you have an AAA basic plan; each member receives four service calls per membership annually for any roadside assistance, beyond which a service charge may apply for every roadside assistance.

How far does AAA tow for free?

Depending on your AAA membership plan, you can get your car towed for free from three to two hundred miles. For instance, for a classic plan, you will get a towing distance of three to five miles, a Plus plan for up to 100 miles, and the Premier plan for up to two hundred miles.

Can you call AAA if not a member?

Yes, not being an AAA member should not deter you from calling and seeking their roadside assistance services. However, you need to contact their service line, 800-222-4357, and sign up for their membership. If you need their services immediately, consider paying the extra $75 to the membership fees to waive the waiting period, as it takes 48 hours before they offer their services.

Does AAA have 24-hour service?

Yes, AAA roadside assistance is available 24/7. Thus, if you need towing, tire change, or mechanic aid, do not hesitate to make a call.


So, if you are wondering whether you need to be with your car when it is towed, your presence is vital at the breakdown site as an AAA member. This allows AAA to take accountability for your services, leaving no stone unturned.

Additionally, understanding what your AAA membership includes and disregards can help you avoid situations that may be costly or problematic.

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Author: Dave Johnston

Dave Junior is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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