Forget black ice or bounding wildlife.
When it comes to driving, what Canadians are really afraid of is - drum roll, please - getting a flat tire. That’s right. More than 80 percent find a flat tire with no way to call for help more stressful than public speaking or killing spiders.
Having a roadside assistance plan can ease that fear, not to mention the stress involved with other issues like dead batteries or getting locked out. It's an optional item, unlike insurance, but well worth having.
Since 1981, one of the biggest tire brands in Canada has helped drivers
with many of the common problems that leave t hem stranded on the side of the road. Canadian Tire Roadside Assistance serves as a helping hand to thousands of drivers every year.
Let’s take a look at what CTRA offers and how it can give you peace of mind when you’re on the road.
CTRA is associated with Canadian Tire and its 1,700 retail locations across the country. Members get assistance services to deal with dead batteries, towing, and flat tires along with exclusive perks and discounts.
Whether CTRA is the right option for you depends on several factors, including how many vehicles and drivers you have in your household. The type of vehicle also matters since CTRA doesn’t cover motorcycles, scooters, or recreation vehicles.
If you’re going to be driving anywhere along the almost 900,000 km of Canadian roads or even into the US, a CTRA membership makes for a handy item to keep in your glove box.
An annual plan covers you throughout the year so you always know the service is there if you need it. You can choose either silver or gold, then specify which of the three types of membership you want.
With an individual membership, you can add on a second person, which makes it a good choice for couples or if you have more than five drivers at an address. The individual and family plans are a better option if you own more than one car.
All of the plan options include a common set of core benefits available 24/7
Two main differences between the Canadian Tire Roadside Assistance gold plan and the silver plan beyond pricing is the towing limit and number of service calls. The silver plan will provide a tow up to 10 kms, while gold allows you up to 200 km for the year. Silver provides three service calls, and you get five with gold.
The family version has all the same benefits as the individual, only covering five people and allowing for more service calls than the individual plans.
Vehicle plans are targeted to families with only a single car but more than one driver. The cost and benefits are the same as for the individual memberships. You can add a second vehicle, up to 10, to the plan just like you can add a second driver to the individual plans.
The various membership plans come with perks beyond the basic roadside assistance services. Members receive a welcome package within a few weeks of signing up that include discounts for oil changes and car washes. You can also save with discounts at Mark’s or with Avis, Budget, and Choice Hotels when you travel.
Members also get a Perkopolis membership which include unique offers from companies like WestJet, Frank & Oak, Rail Canada, and Disneyland.
If you travel south for the winter, your membership coverage includes Canada and the United States.
If you don’t drive that often, you might not see the value of purchasing an annual membership. But you can still call on CTRA for help anywhere in Canada.
CTRA’s on-demand services give you a flat and predictable price for the typical assistance you might need on the road. It’s available 24/7.
Options include towing, battery boost, flat-tire change, lockout services, and many others.
When you start looking at whether CTRA is the right plan for you, you’ll commonly see it compared to plans from CAA (Canadian Automobile Association) You’ll find people saying the big difference is that CTRA plans are attached to a specific vehicle, while CAA plans are attached to specific drivers.
While that is the case for CAA plans, we’ve already mentioned that CTRA offers options that allow you to cover specific drivers or specific vehicles. CAA is attached to a specific person whether they are the driver or a passenger.
There are some other significant differences you might want to take under advisement if you’re trying to decide which service is best for you.
There are three plan levels offered - Basic, Plus, and Premier - all of which are tied to the member and not a specific vehicle. The benefits are similar to those provided by CTRA with some differences accounted for by having three levels instead of two.
The top two levels include Bike Assist for calls related to bicycle breakdowns and accident assistance. Premier includes Road Trip Interruption Assistance if you happen to break down while far from home. That helps pay for a rental car and hotel stay, as well as getting your vehicle back home.
Unlike CTRA, your CAA membership covers a wide range of vehicles, including motorcycles, dune buggies, and fifth-wheelers. The broader coverage for motorcycles and bicycles kicks in at the Plus level.
If you have Plus or Premier, you can also purchase additional coverage for an RV.
CAA offers an extensive rewards program where members can earn points for making purchases. Those points or “CAA Dollars” can be redeemed to pay for your membership renewal or buy other items.
You can use the CAA mobile app to make your purchases and manage your rewards.
With CAA, you can request help by calling or texting, same as with CTRA. But CAA also provides the option to make a service request through their website and their mobile app.
So if you decide you want to consider adding CTRA to your driving plans, there are just a few more things you should know.
You can reach out for assistance by calling 1-888-727-7478 or text #TOW from your mobile. There is no app or online form for making the request. The number is the same whether you have a membership or are using on-demand services.
All plans can be purchased online at any time. All plans except for the family version can also be purchased at any Canadian Tire store. If you buy it at the store, you need to activate it online before the plan takes effect.
You can renew your membership online or at a Canadian Tire store when you get close to your expiry date, or you can sign up for auto-renewal. You can also call or text the same numbers given for your service to renew.
Canadian Tire sells several different safety kits at its stores and online. At one time, there was just the Roadside Assistance Kit, but it has been discontinued in favor of sets for different types of drivers. Most include a year’s CTRA membership with them.
The safety kit options that come with roadside assistance include:
If you get a kit and it comes with roadside assistance, you need to activate the plan online. It will become active 24 hours after you do so.
Having a Canadian Tire Roadside Assistance card in your wallet gives you peace of mind when it’s time to travel by car. The service protects you, your car, and your family any time you run into an issue like a flat tire or dead battery. There’s no need to stress when you’re stranded if you have CTRA working for you.
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