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Why you should get roadside assistance for your car

9 October 2017
 by 
, CarsGuide
Why you should get roadside assistance for your car
How many times did you hear your parents say "Better call the NRMA"? There's a good reason for that.

When you're young there are some risks that it seems imperative you take - skydiving, bungee jumping, share-house living - but there are some that, in later years, you won't believe you were silly enough to countenance.

In the modern, always-connected world of smartphones, a lot of our younger road-users think there's no longer any need for roadside-assistance membership of the kind long offered by trusted names like the NRMA.

If they break down, they figure, they'll just call for help. But who are you gonna call when it's late at night and you're stranded far from a town in our wide brown land? A tow-truck is never going to be a cheap option, and who knows how long you'll be there waiting.

The thinking, or the risk-taking behaviour if you prefer to call it that, seems to be based on the theory of "it'll never happen to me", a theory that applies to all kinds of behaviour and becomes something of a mantra for the FOMO generation.

Increasingly, Australians, a lot of them what we like to call "young people these days", are purchasing second-hand cars and not bothering to sign up for the kind of roadside cover that we all took for granted for decades, your annual NRMA safety net.

Joining the company's roadside-assistance scheme was even more of a given than a B&S bumper sticker on a ute.

Perhaps it's because the younger generation has grown up in a time when new cars have become closer and closer to infallible, at least if you believe the marketing of the manufacturers.

Or perhaps a lot of them have only known new cars (which still tend to come with roadside assistance, funnily enough), and thus never experienced the horror of being stuck on the side of the road at night, a few hours walk from Wolf Creek.

So, what about the "it won't happen to me" argument - which is much the same one our brains use when putting money on a horse and expecting that it won't come glue-factory last - how likely is your car to break down?

NRMA data shows that in the past year its roadside service team responded to just under 1.3 million breakdowns, 206,265 of which related to flat batteries, 70,671 to lock outs, and 34,498 to flat tyres.

Statistically, the group most likely to have experienced an incident is those aged 18 to 29.

On that last one, it might be worth checking whether your car even has a spare tyre (and that it has air in it if you do), because a lot of modern cars don't come with them, even in rugged-road Australia. They've been done away with to save weight, and thus improve fuel-economy, but you'll sure regret that if you need one.

Statistically, the group most likely to have experienced an incident in the past year is those aged 18 to 29, who are far more likely to be driving older, second-hand vehicles, more likely to experience a flat tyre, flat battery and key-related issues.

Flat battery problems are most common in cars aged between six and 10 years old, because car batteries generally have a three-to five-year lifespan.

Key problems are a more modern malaise, with our exciting proximity and remote keys occasionally failing, or going flat, and leaving us locked out of the car. Or, worse still, locked out of it with the key inside and the engine still running.

Try solving that problem without roadside assistance and you're probably going to end up covered in broken glass, and with an expensive repair bill.

In short, the possibility that your second-hand car - or its tyres - will let you down is not one you can simply ignore. "It won't happen to me" is, after all, the kind of defence that regular smokers use and again, statistics show us pretty clearly what happens to them.

Getting roadside assistance, with a trusted provider like the NRMA which can reach you absolutely anywhere in Australia if you do have a breakdown - is not going to break the bank, indeed it may not cost you a cent to start with, thanks to the NRMA's Free2go offer.

If you join at 16, you get your first two years of membership absolutely free, and if you sign up between the ages of 17 and 20 the first 12 months are free. And in that time you'll get four free callouts a year, which is far more than anyone should need.

Honestly, not signing up isn't one of the risks you should be taking.

Have you got roadside assistance and has it ever saved you?

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