When it comes to having your vehicle towed, there are quite a few events that could lead to the need to call a towing company yourself. For the most part, I'd recommend getting roadside assistance coverage through your auto insurance. It is generally super cheap (I think I pay like $6/month), and it can allow you to avoid unexpected costs with roadside assistance and towing.
Depending on where you live, towing can be pretty pricey if you don't have coverage. The industry as a whole tends to get a pretty bad rap from the bad apples. There are countless stories from people who have been quoted a particular price and then were quite surprised when they were asked to pay far more than the quoted price to get possession of their vehicle.
Some key things to look for when it comes to finding the right towing company are prior customer experiences, length of time in business, and if they have the right equipment for the job. Many higher end cars require a flatbed with a hoist to keep from damaging drivetrain components.
If you don't know anyone locally who can refer you a good towing company, Google reviews can be a pretty good source. Take those reviews with a grain of salt though as dissatisfied customers are far more likely to write a review that those who got what they asked for.
Having the right equipment is a key element in making sure your vehicle is taken care of. The good folks over at Newport Towing and Recovery answered a few questions for me when I asked about equipment. They do towing in Newport Beach and I asked about what kinds of equipment might be needed for towing luxury vehicles. They explained that every tow they do for higher end vehicles involves a flatbed. They also often used a hoist for the vehicle because they are so low to the ground that the flatbed ramp angle doesn't work for loading and unloading the vehicle.
The key takeaway is that you need to do more than 10 seconds of research when you will be trusting your vehicle to someone else. Call them and don't be afraid to ask questions, and above all, a friend who had a good experience with a company is always the best indicator.
Most people have heard that you need regularly scheduled maintenance on your car to keep it running well. If you ask random Joe on the street what that means you'll probably get answers like "Oil change every 3000 miles and a tune up every once in a while, other than that, bring it in when it breaks down or you hear a noise."
That tends to be the general consensus on how to maintain your car. Or, if you are my Uber driver from North Atlanta on New Years Eve, you let the oil light, check engine light, low gas light, and low tire pressure light just stay on because of the fancy colors and hey, "its festive".
In reality, you can find pretty much all of the information you need in the owners manual. The timing for when you should do things like change the oil, drive belt, filters, etc. Who knew that most car recommend you change your cabin air filter every 1-2 years? If your car smells musty on the inside like the bottom of a wet rotting log in the forest, you might just want to check the old cabin air filter.
Here are a few things that you can do on your own as a preventative maintenance check:
1. Learn to check all of your fluids and then do so at least monthly. Check oil, power steering, antifreeze, wiper fluid, and coolant at a minimum. Know what you are comfortable changing when needed and keeping topped off and take any other issues to your mechanic.
2. Check your tire pressure regularly. You know those machines at gas stations that fill up your tires? Don't use the air pressure guage on those. Billy Bob the trucker has dropped that thing and run over it with his full trailer load of twinkies way to many times for it to be accurate. Buy a $2 cheap tire air guage and keep it in your car. This check keeps your car safer by lowering catastrophic tire failure changes, and can even help your fuel mileage.
3. Change your wiper blades when they aren't working well and leave streaks on your windshield. That is about as much explanation anyone should need for that.
4. Rotate your tires and take them in once every year or two to make sure they are balanced. Personally, I take my vehilces in to the shop for this work.
5. Check your spark plugs for buildup or nastiness. If they look gross, there is inefficiency there. They are not expensive to replace so definitely look at getting that done every 3-4 years. Some will last much longer, others won't. I have mine checked in my yearly tune up.
6. Change filters, fluids, and belts as recommended by your owners manual. This stuff is simple and most are very easy to do on your own.
For my first post, I thought I'd talk about the basics of keeping a car on the road for as long as possible. I have personal experience with this because I own a 1983 Mercedes 300D sedan. That is the thing of beauty you see below. I am 32 years old and that car model year is the year before I was born. My grandfather bought it new off of the showroom floor in early 1983 and it was the shining representation that he had "made it". He bought that model specifically, because my late grandmother fell in love with the car the moment that she saw it. Obviously, it hold significant sentimental value and has been in my hands for about a year and a half and I feel like I need to cherish the car and keep it running and clean forever.
There isn't much work to keeping a car like that running for a very long time. If you do the work yourself, it takes patience, youtube, and honesty when you get in above your level of expertise. If you have a shop do the work, I would recommend that you pick someone who specializes in your type of vehicle. I'm still looking for my permanent shop for the Mercedes, but a friend runs the specific type of shop that I'm talking about. Kuhn Automotive is a specialized Auto Shop in Tucker GA that does great work on Cadillacs and Jaguars. He does just about anything other than body work and will work on any kind of car, but he is the best in the Atlanta area with Caddy's and Jags. I throw him out there because I know him and he is a good example of the kind of shop I'm talking about.
Finding your car's caretaker and being particular about who that is is the first key step to really ensuring that vehicle will be on the road and running well for years to come.