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It’s unfortunate when your car breaks down and you need assistance. Now, you need to call a tow truck company. It can be stressful for anyone, especially if your car won’t start or if you’ve been in a car accident. While waiting for your tow truck driver to arrive, you might wonder if you should tip them for their help.

This guide outlines everything you should consider before tipping the tow truck driver. If you’ve ever called a tow truck, you know how expensive it can be. But many auto insurance companies cover towing.

Quick Facts

  • Tow truck drivers don’t expect a tip but appreciate it when it happens.

  • About 50% of people tip tow truck operators.

  • The average tip amount ranges from $5 to $20.

Do most people tip tow truck drivers?

Do I have to tip the tow truck driver?

While most tow truck drivers don't expect a tip for their service, it's always appreciated.

Tow truck operators are some of the most underappreciated workers on the road. They’re out in all types of weather, saving stranded motorists from unfortunate situations. And they make it look easy.

When your car breaks down and you need to call a tow truck, it isn’t always obvious whether you should tip the tow truck driver for their service. They don’t generally expect to receive tips, but they appreciate it.

You may be hoping for a rule of thumb on tipping, but unfortunately, there isn’t one. Around 50% of people tip for towing service. Whether it’s right for you depends on your personal preference and circumstances. You might consider tipping to acknowledge their professionalism or if the driver goes above and beyond the call of duty.

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Should you tip roadside assistance?

Tipping is a regular part of service for many industries in the U.S., from food servers to hairstylists. If you’re wondering whether you should tip a tow truck operator, the general consensus is yes—even for small services.

Towing companies can get very busy, and the dispatchers and service representatives are frequently on the go. It’s not uncommon for them to be understaffed and underpaid, so every little bit helps. You can tip if you believe you received outstanding service or want to show your gratitude for getting you out of a tough spot.

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How much should you tip the tow truck driver?

If you want to tip the tow truck driver, giving $5 to $20 is appropriate. But you can tip less or more, depending on the circumstances. For example, you might offer $5 for a simple jump start, lock-out service, or other smaller job. But $20 might be more appropriate if the weather was poor or you received exceptional service.

You might give a higher tip amount if:

  • The road service is during bad weather

  • The operator arrives quickly

  • They were polite and updated you regularly

  • They check under the hood to potentially save you the towing cost

  • You need service in the middle of the night or along a busy road

  • You want extra service, like a ride home

When in doubt, default on the side of generosity. But if you can’t afford to tip, let them know you appreciate their service in another way. For example, you might offer to leave a positive online review.

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What does it cost to tow a car?

You can expect to pay between $2.50 and $7.00 per mile for a tow, with the national average cost being $109 total, according to J.D. Power. But there’s no set amount, and many factors determine the price. For example, it can depend on how far away the repair shop is, the degree of inconvenience, and the danger or risk involved.

However, some insurance policies cover the cost of calling a tow truck. You may be able to have your car towed or a flat tire changed without additional fees. If your policy doesn’t include towing and you don’t have roadside assistance service from AAA or another company, your cost might vary depending on:

  • Type of car you own

  • Time of day

  • If it’s a weekend or holiday

  • Terrain that your vehicle must travel through

  • Condition of your vehicle

  • Types of automotive services you need

You might pay more for a tow of 40 miles than if you simply need a few gallons of gas delivered because you ran out.

Things to Consider When Deciding Whether to Tip

When deciding whether to tip, consider these questions:

  • How well did the operator do their job?

  • Were they on time?

  • Did they work quickly and efficiently?

  • Did they go out of their way to help you?

  • Did they handle your car with care?

If you think that the driver did an excellent job, it’s a nice gesture to offer a tip. On the other hand, if you aren’t happy with how you were treated, you can skip the tip and focus on the next steps to get your car going again.

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How Tipping Can Make Your Experience Better

The tow truck operator is likely one of the first people you’ll interact with on what could be a long day of bad luck. If they are professional and courteous, they will make your experience better than if they were rude and unprofessional.

Tipping is a great way to express appreciation and encourage the driver to go the extra mile. Tow truck drivers are some of the most helpful and undervalued people in our society. You might even make someone’s day with a tip just to say “thank you.”

How Much to Tip for Other Services

How much should you tip for other services like restaurants, hotels, and furniture delivery? The answer can vary depending on how much a particular service costs and how often you use that business. Gratuity etiquette varies from service person to service person, so here’s a guideline to help you know when and how much to tip.

ServiceSuggested tip
BaristaTip not required, putting change in tip jar appreciated
BartenderTip $1 per drink or 15% of your total bill
Cab driverTip 10% or at least $2
Dog walker/groomerTip 15%
Food deliveryTip 10% or at least $2
Furniture deliveryTip $5–$20 depending on the size of the item, or offer refreshments
Pickup takeoutTip not required; if the order was large, add to the tip jar
HairstylistTip 15–20%
BellhopTip $1–$2 per bag
Hotel housekeeperTip $2–$5 per day of stay
Manicurist/spaTip 15% of total
Roadside assistanceTip not required, $5 for jump start and $10 for tow appreciated
Room serviceTip $5 minimum if tip not included in total
Restroom attendantTip $1 if you used their service
ValetTip $5–$10

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Tipping the Tow Truck Driver Is a Personal Choice

It’s never fun when your car breaks down on the side of the road. If your tow truck driver is kind, punctual, and professional, it’s always nice to offer them a little something extra if you have the means.

Towing companies don’t typically leave out a tip jar for their drivers. Even so, most tow truck drivers will appreciate receiving a tip because their work can sometimes be dangerous or take them away from home in the middle of the night. Most tow truck drivers will appreciate the gesture.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Tipping tow truck operators is not required but is appreciated. It’s good to tip if they provide excellent service or go above and beyond by helping you with other tasks.

  • There are no hard and fast rules about tipping. Ultimately, it’s a personal choice. If the service person was prompt, friendly, and professional — and did a good job — $5 is appropriate for jumping a dead battery.

  • If you’ve ever had a flat tire on a busy interstate or highway, you know how great it feels when someone stops to help change it. While most tow truck drivers don’t expect tips for changing tires, some will accept it graciously if offered.

  • A good tip for a tow truck driver would be around $10. However, consider whether the driver went above and beyond or helped you during late hours or inclement weather. If so, $20 might be more appropriate and make the driver feel like their work was truly appreciated.

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  • Data scientists at Insurify analyzed more than 40 million real-time auto insurance rates from our partner providers across the United States to compile the car insurance quotes, statistics, and data visualizations displayed on this page. The car insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers' vehicles, driving records, and demographic information. Quotes for Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, State Farm, and USAA are estimates based on Quadrant Information Service's database of auto insurance rates. With these insights, Insurify is able to offer drivers insight into how companies price their car insurance premiums.

Amy Beardsley
Amy BeardsleyInsurance Writer

Amy is a personal finance and technology writer. With a background in the legal field and a bachelor's degree from Ferris State University, she has a talent for transforming complex topics into content that’s easy to understand. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.