AutoMatters & More: AAA Membership – For Help When You Need It Most


One never knows when they might need roadside assistance. On this particular day I was running some shopping errands in my 2011 Mustang GT.

My daily driver – a Prius Plug-in – gets much better gas mileage, but the Mustang is much more fun to drive and besides, it needs to be driven at least every few weeks to keep everything properly lubricated and working properly.

I stopped to shop at a Rite Aid pharmacy, parking in their lot. I was restocking my dwindling supply of large bandages to cover my pretty nasty German Shepherd bite wound which had not quite closed up, despite it having been a couple of weeks since the stitches were removed.

When I finished my shopping and left the drug store it was late in the afternoon. The sun was setting. It had been a beautiful, sunny day, so the setting sun was especially bright. I got into my Mustang and carefully backed far enough out of my parking space so that I could drive forward to leave the lot.

Slowly I drove west, directly into the setting, nearly blinding sun, when suddenly I felt a bump and then heard a scraping noise. I stopped immediately and got out of my car. I saw that I had driven my passenger side tires over the curved end of a narrow, dirt-filled, curbed landscaping median that was parallel to the parking spaces. In the bright sun I had not seen it.

My front tire had already passed over the curb, but my rear tire was hovering over the dirt in the landscaping median, as the car rested on its rear suspension on top of the curb. My car was what is called ‘high-centered.’

At first I thought that I might be able to carefully drive it out of where it was so I tried to do so, but the rear tire had no traction so it just spun. Fortunately I have a AAA membership, so I phoned for a tow truck and waited.

Many years ago when I lived in Canada, I had used my CAA (Canadian Automobile Association) membership on a fairly regular basis – mostly to get a battery boost for my crippled cars in the cold Canadian winters, but sometimes when I got stuck in the snow. When I moved to California I mostly got a AAA membership out of habit, but also because it has a variety of other benefits besides roadside assistance.

The tow truck arrived in less than an hour. I asked the operator if he could lift up the back of my car, move it sideways and lower it back down to the pavement. Having dealt with this situation before, he told me that he was going to lift up the front of the car and pull it forward.

I questioned this approach, expressing concern that the back of my low mileage, rarely driven Mustang would come crashing down on the curb when the rear tire rolled over it. As an alternative, I asked him if he could lift up the back of the car with jacks and use dollies to move it over to the pavement, but his answer was the same as before.

He assured me repeatedly that he knew what to do, so reluctantly I let him try, releasing the parking brake and putting the manual transmission in neutral.

He lifted it up, slowly rolled it forward and then, as the passenger-side rear tire rolled slowly over the curb, he lowered the front of the car slightly. That caused the Mustang to pivot on its rear tires, lifting up the back of the car so that the exhaust system would not scrape on the curb.

He did an excellent job and my Mustang was not damaged. I thanked him and sincerely apologized for doubting him. He accepted my apology, shook my hand and told me that it is a beautiful car.

As I was signing the AAA paperwork I asked him what his work might have cost me if I did not have a AAA membership. He told me it would have cost $225! The money that I saved will pay for almost three years of AAA Plus membership, which will be money well spent. Needless to say I recommend AAA membership to you, too.

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Copyright © 2016 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #461