How to Get Roadside Assistance in California

California operates a state-wide free roadside assistance program in several counties—but purchasing your own coverage is still a good idea. Here’s why.
Written by Kathryn Mae Kurlychek
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
background
California’s Freeway Service Patrol (FSP) is a free roadside assistance program offered in many counties across the state. But it’s not available everywhere (or at all times of the day), so drivers will want to consider investing in more
comprehensive roadside assistance
from an auto club, a vehicle manufacturer, or their own
California car insurance
provider.
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How to get roadside assistance in California

If you could plan for a breakdown, the odds of one happening would be much lower—as it is, the best any driver can do is simply learn what roadside assistance options are out there. Whether you get it through a club (like AAA), vehicle manufacturer (like Ford), insurance company, or credit card, roadside assistance is usually worth the money it costs. Here are some of the most popular options for roadside assistance among California drivers. 

Roadside assistance clubs in California 

Californians agree: there’s no better roadside assistance club than AAA. While AAA offers a variety of insurance products, it’s most well-known (and well-loved) for its extensive roadside assistance services, from vehicle towing to fuel delivery, mechanical first-aid, and more. 
Purchasing roadside assistance through an auto club like AAA is more expensive than most other options—but the added benefits make it a cost-effective option for most drivers. California drivers pay between $60 and $120 per year for an average AAA membership, which includes emergency roadside assistance services like:
  • Battery boosts and replacements
  • Car lockout
    services
  • Extrication and winching services
  • Flat tire services
  • Fuel deliveries
  • Towing services 
Alternatives to an AAA membership include auto clubs like Better World or Good Sam Club. Depending on where you live, there may also be local roadside assistance clubs you can join.

Manufacturers that offer roadside assistance

While it’s not an option for every driver, some manufacturers offer roadside assistance programs of their own, which are available to drivers who purchase a new vehicle. Some of these programs come complimentary with your new car, while others are subscription-based and come with an annual fee. 
Check out the list below to see which manufacturers offer roadside assistance benefits to new car buyers: 
  • Ford:
    Five years or 60,000 miles
  • Honda
    : Three years or 36,000 miles 
  • Hyundai
    : Five years with unlimited mileage
  • Kia
    : Five years or 60,000 miles 
  • Nissan
    : Three years or 36,000 miles
  • Tesla:
    Four years of 50,000 miles 
  • Toyota
    : Two years with unlimited mileage 

Credit card companies that offer roadside assistance

Another way to get roadside assistance is through your credit card company! We know—it sounds strange. But several major credit card companies include complimentary roadside assistance services for customers. Some of the most popular programs are through the following companies: 
  • Bank of America
  • Capital One
  • Chase
  • Citi (note that Citi Double Cash discontinued their roadside assistance program)
  • Wells Fargo 
  • U.S. Bank 
  • Visa
If you’re not sure whether your credit card company offers roadside assistance—or how to access it—you can always call your company’s customer service to check the terms of your credit card. A representative of the company should be able to tell you what benefits are available to you and how you can use them. 

Insurance companies that offer roadside assistance

In California, AAA is considered one of the
best overall auto insurance companies
—but it’s not the only provider to offer roadside assistance programs. 
In fact, most major car insurance companies—including Nationwide, Allstate, and Progressive—offer optional roadside assistance (sometimes referred to as “towing and labor coverage” among providers) to their customers. Policyholders who have full-coverage plans may even receive roadside assistance as an added benefit at a much lower cost!
The best way to find out whether you can get roadside assistance through your auto insurance company is simply by calling to check the details of your policy. It may also be worthwhile to compare plans from multiple insurance companies, since the exact benefits included in your coverage can vary across providers. 
MORE: How to join AAA and make sure you have roadside assistance coverage

How to find free roadside assistance in California

There’s one other way for California drivers to get roadside assistance—and it’s the easiest option of all. California’s state-wide Freeway Service Patrol (FSP) offers free, emergency roadside services including vehicle towing, flat tire changes, fluid services, fuel-ups, and more. 
The FSP’s logo’d fleet of towing vehicles monitors highways across the state during peak commuting hours to offer emergency help to drivers. In many cases, an FSP driver will arrive on the scene of a roadside mishap before drivers have a chance to call—but if you need to access an FSP service, you can dial 511 and say “Freeway Assist” for help. 
Keep in mind that the FSP is not a 24-hour service, making it an unreliable stand-in for full roadside assistance coverage. FSP vehicles patrol highways during the busiest hours (think morning and evening commutes), and may operate at different times depending on your location. To find out when FSP services are available in your area, visit the
Freeway Service Patrol’s website
.
Unfortunately, not every county across the state has access to FSP services. FSP fleets are only available to residents who live in the following California counties:
California Freeway Service Patrol (FSP) Division 
Counties covered
Border Division
Orange County, San Diego County
Central Division
Fresno County
Coastal Division
Monterey County, Santa Barbara County, and Santa Cruz County
Golden Gate Division
Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano, and Sonoma counties
Inland Division
Riverside County, San Bernardino County
Southern Division
Los Angeles County
Valley Division
El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Yolo counties 
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FAQs

AAA’s roadside assistance number is (800) 222-4357. If you’re a AAA member, you can call 24 hours, seven days a week for assistance.
Yes, some counties in California have access to California’s Freeway Service Patrol (FSP), a state-run roadside assistance program. But drivers should be aware that FSP services are typically only available during peak commuting hours when traffic is at its busiest. Outside of those times, free roadside assistance may not be available.
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