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Do You Tip Tow Truck Drivers?

The American service industry thrives on tips. In fact, tipping has become part of the etiquette of paying a service fee or tab. Tips are more or less expected when it comes to restaurants, hairdressers, and valet parking. Some of those may actually require you to leave a tip and calculate it for you. However, there’s one service where the courtesy of tipping becomes inexact –roadside assistance.

Whenever you need a tow or wheel change, there’s always a reliable roadside assistant on the scene to help you unstrand yourself. As they’re bidding you farewell, you may think to yourself, “Wow, they did an awesome and efficient job. I wonder how much I should tip them.” You may also wonder if you’re even allowed to tip roadside assistance services like a tow truck driver. The opinions on whether or not you’re supposed to aren’t exactly consistent. Allow us to clear it up for you.

Are You Even Allowed to Tip Tow Truck Drivers?

The short answer is yes. Tips for roadside assistance aren’t directly encouraged, but a tow truck driver or someone providing a service will always appreciate a tip. Especially if they drove all the way over to help or completed a particularly difficult job, or went out of their way. You may have gotten stuck late at night or on a particularly busy part of the highway in need of a tow as soon as possible.

At the same time, there are jobs that are seen as standard, like changing a tire or receiving a jumpstart. Some drivers will tell you that the cost is enough and a tip may not be necessary. However, there’s always the chance the driver or roadside assistance is working on minimum wage. The national average for tow truck drivers’ hourly wage is $13.34 per hour. Regardless of how much they’re paid or what company they work for, like AAA, for instance, tow truck drivers don’t expect tips.

When do You Tip Roadside Assistance for Something Like a Tow?

Even for the smallest jobs, it’s never a bad move to offer the driver or roadside assistant a tip. As previously mentioned, if the driver took a long commute from headquarters, it would be a good call to tip them for going out of their way when it could’ve been another driver closer to you who helps. Say you ran your car off-road and got it stuck in a roadside ditch. That would be a big job for a tow truck. Tipping definitely is smiled upon when it comes to the more time-consuming jobs. If you feel they did an excellent job regardless of the circumstances, you may offer them a tip as a courtesy as well. The worst they can say is that they aren’t permitted to accept tips.

When Are You Not Able to Tip Roadside Assistance?

There are instances where a tow truck drive or roadside assistant will not accept your tip. This isn’t because they don’t want it, but because it may be a company or insurance practice. Some roadside services are owned and financed by the local or state municipal. City or town employees typically have a rule that prevents them from accepting any money outside of the service cost which the local government pays them for.

Another instance where you may not be able to tip is when you’ve received a tow or assistance through your insurance company. Car insurance has an add-on that covers roadside assistance in the event your car comes to a standstill. Your insurance providers will tell you that you don’t have to leave a tip, but it may still be an option depending on the driver who comes to help you.

How Much Should You Tip?

Let’s start out with the cost of receiving a tow itself. They typically charge by the mile along with a tow truck use fee or base rate. This base rate can be anywhere from $35 to $100. For every mile traveled, they’ll charge between $2.50 to $5. The average cost of a tow job is $109. With such a significant fee, some drivers may be hesitant to tip a whole lot. That’s why drivers have come up with this great rule of thumb.

For smaller jobs, such as switching out a tire or jumpstarting your car, you may tip them around five dollars. It’s not too much or too little and shows your appreciation for a job well done. For bigger jobs, like big towing runs or a late-night service, a tip anywhere from $10 to $15 will do. At this point, you would actually want to give them a good tip because they went above and beyond in towing your car. $20 is the maximum amount, but if you feel they truly did a stellar job, then that would be considered a good tip in the business world.

How Does Roadside Assistance Tie Into Car Insurance?

As previously mentioned, car insurance companies offer coverage for roadside assistance. This can particularly help you save on the cost of having your car towed or serviced while stuck on the road. These policies cover you for a certain distance of towing before you would have to pay on your own. You can put coverage and mileage limits on a roadside assistance policy. Say that you want to have $100 per towing incident or up to 25 miles per towing incident. In this case, you would be covered for most of the towing costs. Lastly, you won’t have to worry about your rates increasing after having your car towed. Breakdowns are a regular part of vehicle ownership. That’s why insurance companies offer roadside policies.

Here’s The Important Things to Know When Tipping Tow Truck Drivers

Nothing bad can come from offering a tip to a roadside assistant. When it comes to cost, the driver will be paid their rate for the job along with commission if their employer permits it. A tip would go directly to them. To review, the only things to keep in mind when tipping a tow truck driver is:

  • The job they completed - The value of your tip is heavily determined by how stuck your car was. If it needed something as small as a jump start, then it’s worthy of a five-dollar tip. Tows and any job bigger deserves a tip of at least $10.
  • Ten percent of the bill - A standard practice for calculating tips is taking ten percent of the total cost of the service.
  • The worst they could say is no - Government-run roadside services prohibit tipping their employees. This is the case for tow truck drivers.
  • Conditions wherein the job is completed - A nighttime tow takes more effort than a daytime one would. Say that it’s raining or snowing, or worse, there is a storm. Remember to tip the driver handsomely for braving inclement weather and conditions.