For many drivers, a roadside assistance plan is as essential as seat belts. Not too long ago, pretty much the only game in town rhymed with “ripple bay.” But auto manufacturers, insurance companies, credit card companies, and even cell phone providers now offer plans. Having choices is great, but look at the fine print before you commit. Here are some roadside assistance “potholes” to look out for:

Redundant coverage

If you’ve recently purchased a new car, check to see if the manufacturer included roadside assistance in your purchase price, what’s covered, and for how long. A credit card or the car insurance you already have may also cover you. BUT it’s important that you understand what’s included, so you’re not surprised with extra costs or restrictions when you need service.

Co-pays

And you thought they were just for health insurance. Some providers—usually those with lower membership fees—might require you to pay a fee on the spot when the service truck comes. For others, service visits are covered in your membership fee.

Limited service calls per year

Every roadside assistance provider allows a limited number of service calls per year, which is completely understandable. But it’s important to know what the limit is as the penalties can be severe if you go over—from surcharges to refusal to renew your membership.

Service availability

Say you drive three hours every other weekend through some pretty remote territory to visit your parents. Does the plan service the areas you’re driving through, or are they better in cities and suburbs?

Service personnel/facilities

Roadside assistance plans don’t operate towing services or garages. How do they vet their third-party service providers?

Vehicle eligibility

Sure, your SUV is covered, but what about your RV? Make sure you’re covered for all the vehicles you drive (some plans now even include bicycle service!). On the plus side, some plans may offer perks and discounts you might find attractive—so take that into account as you compare plans. Yes, compare. You’ve got a lot of pros and cons to weigh, and it’s not all apples-to-apples. But when you find the plan that suits you best, there’s nothing like the peace of mind that comes from knowing help will be on the way. Round-the-clock roadside assistance is one of the many benefits of the Route 66 Extended Warranty that Pen Air makes available to its members. Find out here if an extended warranty is the right call for you and your vehicle.