Toyota's Roadside Assistance Leaves You Stranded Out Of Gas

Reader Chris spent some extra money on a Toyota extended warranty which comes with free roadside assistance in the event his vehicle breaks down or runs out of gas. Unfortunately, that’s what happened to Chris’ girlfriend one day when she ran out of gas on a Cleveland freeway. She called roadside assistance for help, but when the rescue driver finally arrived he’d only brought a half-gallon of gas, not enough to get her RAV 4 started. Since the roadside assistance terms allow for 3 gallons of gas she asked the driver to bring additional gas to which he replied, “They don’t pay me enough for that,” and drove off. Chris’ letter, inside…

Dear Consumerist,

My girlfriend and I bought a new car from Classic Toyota. Along with it we bought the extended warranty. I know these usually pad the pockets of the seller, but she’s a high milage driver since she drives for work quite a bit, and since we were able to haggle on the pricing a bit, it came out to about the same price as a AAA membership, and comes with free roadside assistance. I figured it would be worth it. Boy was I wrong, apparently.

On the 9th, she ran out of gas on the freeway I was at work at the time so I couldn’t run to the gas station and pick up a gas can. Well, that stinks. Good thing we have roadside assistance, right? Wrong. After an hour’s wait (perfectly reasonable, I wasn’t upset yet and nor was she) the employee from roadside assistance pulled up in the eastbound lane (she was in the westbound, and told the call center that multiple times) and yelled across multiple lanes of rush hour traffic “Hey are you the one who needs help? Are you out of gas?”. She told him that he was and he drove saying “I’m going to go get you some gas”. So, apparently when you call up roadside assistance and told them you run out of gas, they don’t actually bring gas with them?

Anyway, he drives ahead to the next freeway exit, gets some gas, and comes back westbound to “help” her out. When he gets out of his car she immediately notices something is up. He has a tiny gas can in his hand. She knew immediately that there was no way it held even a gallon of gas. He put it in the tank and told her to start it up. Obviously, it didn’t work. My girlfriend drives a Rav 4 with a 15 gallon tank. Half a gallon wouldn’t even fill the fuel line. She asked how much gas he put in the car, and the man lied and told her it was 2 gallons! They pushed the car forward a bit to make sure it was on level ground, and it still didn’t work. I told her via text message to leave the key in the forward position for a bit to let fuel enter the engine. Still no dice. She asked him again how much gas the man put in. He said “It’s two gallons, but half a gallon should start this car. Half a gallon should definitely start this car”.

He gets back in his van, and talks on his walkie talkie for a bit, then comes back out. My girlfriend asks if he can go get her some more gas. Even pretending that the guy actually gave her 2 gallons of gas, we were entitled to up to 3 plus up $100 for repairs plus a tow. The roadside assistance guys response to more gas? “No. They don’t pay me enough for that.” Then he got in to his van and drove off! We called up the dealership and raised hell with the general manager, and he eventually got someone to come out and give my girlfriend 2 gallons of gas. But all told my girlfriend spend 3 hours on the side of the freeway in 95 degree heat and 60% humidity because the roadside assistance guy “doesn’t get paid enough. Thank GOD my girlfriend was on the way to pick up my infant daughter from day-care as opposed to driving home with her.

I’ve been wrestling ever since with the dealership and First Extended, the company that handles our contract. First extended tells me I should be calling the company that actually came out. The company they sub-contract to. Roadside Rescue of Cleveland, LLC doesn’t return my phone calls. The dealership handed me a $25 gas voucher and told me I can cancel my warranty and have the prorated amount refunded. This outcome is completely unacceptable. Do they have any idea how much day care charges for keeping your baby over? A hell of a lot more than $25. That’s how much.

Where the heck am I supposed to go with this, Consumerist? I can’t get anyone to talk to me, let alone help me out!

We agree that the contractor Roadside Rescue is at fault and Toyota is also responsible which is perhaps why they gave you a $25 gas voucher and are willing to refund your warranty. We think you should take your voucher and refund and be glad that you are rid of a dysfunctional relationship. Companies usually won’t compensate you for events that happened because of their blunder, whether it be lost wages or day care fees so chances are you are out of luck in that area. Also, Consumerist readers might already know that extended car warranties are a usually rip off.

(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Juggernaut says:

    Can I get in with a women drivers comment? No, well alrighty then.

  2. Youthier says:

    Come on, Chris, admit it. You asked her why the hell she was driving around on empty, right? I know that’s what my husband would have done.

    And while the service you received was terrible, I think they offered a fair resolution. Not overally generous but fair.

  3. jnrcorp says:

    In all fairness, running out of gas is totally irresponsible. The guy with the tow truck behaved poorly, but seriously, if you have a child and you’re driving your car that close to empty, you shouldn’t be a parent.

  4. Me - now with more humidity says:

    The only roadside assistance worth a crap is AAA. Fast response, and they do what they promise. I’ve had AAA for 20 years with the exception of 6 months with a manufacturer program. Took them three hours to respond to a tow call, while 8 AAA towtrucks drove by. I re-upped with AAA that day.

  5. humphrmi says:

    Half a gallon of gas should be enough to start any car, it doesn’t matter where the line on the fuel guage is, if there’s gas in the engine it will run.

    The trick, which the roadside assist should have known, is that on a car that has run completely out of gas, you have to get some fuel into the engine first. The way to do this varies from car to car. In the old days, you’d just take the air filter off and put a few drops of fuel directly into the carburator. Now of course you have fancy-shmancy electric pumps and injectors so figuring out how to get the fuel from the can into the engine can be tricky, and should be the job of a decent roadside assistance professional. The leaving the key in the “on” position for a while is one that I’ve heard about too.

    Regardless, they should provide the service they agreed to.

  6. ARPRINCE says:

    Cars come with GAS GAUGES but that’s another story. ;)

  7. pmathews says:

    Dang, is everybody going to blame the OP?

    But yeah, that woman needs a good backhand…

  8. I would agree with the consumerist advice here. you paid toyota to do a service. if they sub-contract it out, and that results in poor preformance, that is not your issue. you paid toyota, period. however they seem to have offered you an amicable option to sever the relationship. while the gift certificate doesn’t cover the day-care, but it wasn’t a toyota day care. their offer to cancel the service and prorate the fee is fair, but not fantastic. i’d accecpt their offer and consider this a lesson learned.

  9. pmathews says:


    Oh, and Chris needs to lecture his wife on how running out of gas damages the engine.

  10. Parting says:

    @Juggernaut: He, he, then I can start with comments that my insurance (as a women) is half of what guys pay ;)

  11. SaveMeJeebus says:

    Maybe she got some sort of adrenaline rush from driving while it was on “E” and lighting up the gas can warning light?

  12. xphilter says:

    yeah, don’t blame it on the dealership. your girlfriend should have been more responsible. or should have atleast called a friend, waiting for 3 hours is playing with fire, in MN you can get a ticket for running out of gas on a HW.

  13. RandomHookup says:

    my infant daughter…

    So the infant is his and not hers? That’s one understanding girlfriend.

  14. evslin says:

    Where the heck am I supposed to go with this, Consumerist? I can’t get anyone to talk to me, let alone help me out!

    What the heck are you supposed to?

    You’re supposed to stop and fill up your tank before you hit the freeway – there are probably 20 gas stations within 5 miles of your house, and certainly one near the on-ramp to the freeway. That’s what the heck you’re supposed to do.

  15. @pmathews: @pmathews: Asshole.

  16. BurnZ_ says:

    Should have just gone with AAA. I’ve had to use them quite a few times and they always get the job done quick and right

  17. half a gallon of gas = $2
    extended warranty including roadside assistance = ~$500
    Blaming the OP(‘s gf) for running out of gas to begin with = priceless

  18. gnuman says:

    I don’t see why people should run out of gas in the first place unless of course they are in the middle of the desert and there are no gas stations. You try to save money by not putting in gas is ridiculous. $4 a gallon is cheap considering it is $5.60 a gallon in Canada.

  19. CaptainConsumer says:

    I call shenanigans on this whole letter! Everyone KNOWS Toyota’s NEVER run out of gas, heck they run on perfume water and release fresh air. While they drive they plant flowers and pick up trash.

    Ran out of gas……HA!

  20. I think people need to stop blaming the driver here. Most roadside assistance problems are the drivers fault (locked keys in the car, running out of oil, even flats–make sure your spare is infalted)

    Who we need to blame is the roadside tech who didn’t solve the problem.

  21. pmathews says:

    @Spaceman Bill Leah:

    Why am I the ass? I wasn’t the first to blame the OP and I certainly won’t be the last. Your anger is very misguided. So that makes you the asshole. Sorry, the truth hurts.


    I heard that they can also detect cancer and they divide by zero when needed.

  22. LoveNoelG says:

    Consumerist editors have you ever considered moderating your comments to try and put an end to the victim-blaming and misogyny? The self-righteous know-it-all commenters really ruin your site.

    I hope you’ll think about it at least.

  23. @pmathews: Why am I the ass? I wasn’t the first to blame the OP and I certainly won’t be the last. Your anger is very misguided. So that makes you the asshole. Sorry, the truth hurts.

    My guess is your But yeah, that woman needs a good backhand… comment.

  24. @pmathews: You weren’t the only who blamed the OP but you were the only one who advocated hitting a woman.

    I’m surprised your post didn’t ask why she wasn’t at home taking care of the kid in the first place.

  25. pmathews says:


    Ah, yes, I forgot that part.

    @Spaceman Bill Leah:

    Oh, well…nobody is above a good backhand…I’ll save the beating jokes for another day.

  26. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    My experience with Volvo roadside assistance is similar, though not nearly as stomach churning.

    in my case, I called to fix a flat . I was told they’d be there within the hour. 80 minutes later they called back to see if the guy had arrived. No dice.

    So they call him, call me back, tell me it will be 30 minutes at the latest. 50 minutes later, they call me back, he’s still not there.

    Same routine – they call him, call me back, promise me he’ll be there in 5 minutes. This is where I figured out they had a twenty minute cushion built into their followup calls – 25 minutes later they call back, he’s still not there.

    In all, I waited just over three hours for the guy to show up to change a flat tire – a flat that I could have fixed in a few minutes myself if my “certified” used car had included a lug wrench. Imagine my surprise when he actually said “What, no tip?”

    @Me: is right, get AAA – the others are crap.

  27. raisitup says:

    on running out of gas…..we don’t know all the details, and without them i don’t think we can pass judgement on her for it happening. maybe she made a mistake, maybe not, in either case the mistake is provided for in their service agreement and the other party didn’t live up to that agreement and THAT is the issue. let’s ask her if she has a bank of america debit card, or a container of juice that holds 12 ounces less than the old container for the same price, then beat her up about that. party.

  28. jzief128 says:

    I totally agree with you. Stuff happens…to all of us. The only thing that should matter is that she paid for a service and when she needed it, that service failed her. Everything else in the story is just white noice.

  29. Just realize, everyone. AAA does not provide the roadside assistance themselves. So it’s possible that one of their contractors will be just as rude or ill-prepared as this guy. I hope, at least, that AAA would be more strict in their contractor selection though.

    I’m not saying AAA is a bad choice, just saying that there is no guarantee.

  30. pengajim says:

    Maybe your girlfriend should look at the gas gauge more often and fill up when it gets to a 1/4 tank.

  31. fordpickup says:

    @pmathews: Domestic violence is NEVER the answer. If it was a joke it was in the most poor of taste.

  32. Roundonbothends says:

    Come on, now. Sometimes it takes one to learn. Youth to middle age is a series of lessons, and folks get to look back to things like “remember when I ran out of gas on the freeway and that rescue jerk only brought a half gallon? Well, that was the LAST time I ever let a tank get that low, and it’s been, what, thirty-three years.”

    “Yep, we were young and stupid, bright girl. It’s a miracle that we survived at all.”

  33. PinkBox says:

    I agree that the roadside assistance guy was in the wrong, but I can’t look past the fact that he was called out because she ran out of gas.

    It is completely irresponsible to not keep track of how much gas you have in your car, especially if you are someone that travels often.

  34. timmus says:

    I’m starting to think that Ben needs to fire up another round of membership cancellations like in the old days.

  35. balthisar says:

    AAA is only $55 per year. So you’re saying you negotiated a high mileage, extended warranty down to $55 per yet? Yeah, okay.

  36. PinkBox says:

    This article is making me want to look into getting AAA, even though my own extended warranty came with free roadside assistance. (the dealership offered the warranty for free after I’d been there a couple of hours haggling.)

    Good job, Consumerist.

  37. Nytmare says:

    @NameGoesHere: Wow, you’ve discovered the solution! People, you can throw away your gas cans now, all we have to do is be responsible and we’ll never run out of gas again.

  38. acknight says:

    @heavylee-again: At least here in Syracuse, NY, AAA does have a fleet of their own vehicles in addition to farming out some.

  39. IphtashuFitz says:

    I have AAA Plus and although I’ve only used it a couple times I consider it money well spent. I once had a blowout in heavy rain and they came out and were able to put on the spare in just a couple minutes despite the driving rain. A few years back I had a complete transmission failure thanks to an inept mechanic who performed a regular service on the car I had at the time. All the fluid drained out of the transmission while I was on the highway. My AAA coverage included 100 free miles of towing, and it ended up being about 110 miles to the dealer I wanted it taken to (not the dealer where the mechanic screwed up). The AAA driver was able to get me there just before their shop closed for the night and also said not to bother with paying for the additional 10 miles since the paperwork was a pain in the *ss. That tow alone was well worth the years of membership in AAA.

  40. MissPeacock says:

    @timmus: I *totally* agree with this. The other Gawker sites do this; I don’t see why the Consumerist can’t as well. It is so disheartening to read the comments on here. Like raisitup said, we don’t know why she ran out of gas. Things HAPPEN. People make mistakes. So what if it was her own fault for not paying attention? She paid for a service and it wasn’t delivered. THAT IS THE POINT, not why she ran out of gas or what a bumbling fool-who-should-never-be-allowed-to-take-care-of-children she must be because she ran out of damn gas.

    I just can’t believe that not one of the victim-blamers here has never done something stupid or made a mistake. The woman in this story doesn’t deserve to be crucified, and it’s certainly not appropriate to joke about hitting her. I would expect a comment like that on some low-brow site, but not this one. The Consumerist used to be one of my favorite sites to read every day, but with all of the victim-blaming and holier-than-thou attitudes in EVERY SINGLE STORY, it’s just frustrating.

  41. pandroid says:

    There’s an age old adage.. let he who is without blame cast the first stone… or, in modern terms, you don’t get to whine about other people’s stupid mistakes if you have ever, or will ever, make one as stupid. And I would say that there’s a 100% guarantee that you will, you cocky shmucks. >:D

  42. Ein2015 says:

    This is why you use AAA.

  43. Deivion says:

    The roadside assistance obviously kept the other 1.5 gallons of gas he said he “gave” to OP’s girlfriend. This is what happens when gas prices are high.

    OP should be glad Toyota did something. Next time, your girlfriend should keep a can of gas in their car….that will solve your problems…hopefully.

  44. @acknight: At least here in Syracuse, NY, AAA does have a fleet of their own vehicles in addition to farming out some.

    I sit corrected, thanks.

    @people asking for accounts to be canceled:
    An alternative solution would be for members to have the ability (maybe only within 5 minutes of posting) to edit one’s own post. In this present scenario, maybe certain posters didn’t realize their joking comments wouldn’t come across as jokes. Or maybe they weren’t jokes at all, but the poster soon realized that they wanted to redact the comment.

    I also know often I find grammar and punctuation mistakes in my posts, even though I proofread before I submit. I’d love the ability to make these small changes, just cuz I’m anal like that.

  45. @pmathews: You are an ass.

  46. She had to have known she was on empty. Also, according to the story, a gas station was at the exit she just passed (assistance dude was driving the other direction and went to the next exit to get gas), so what’s her excuse for not pulling over when she knew she was on empty?

    I agree that the guy acted like an asshole, but if I’m getting close to empty and see a gas station, I stop and re-fuel.

  47. PinkBox says:

    @nytmare: Hehe, if I of all people am capable of never running out of gas, I imagine others could do the same.

    Watch me end up with an empty tank next week. :P

  48. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @jnrcorp: running out of gas is totally irresponsible… you shouldn’t be a parent.

    @pmathews: But yeah, that woman needs a good backhand…

    @xphilter: don’t blame it on the dealership. your girlfriend should have been more responsible

    @NameGoesHere: It is completely irresponsible to not keep track of how much gas you have in your car,

    @evslin: What the heck are you supposed to? You’re supposed to stop and fill up your tank before you hit the freeway

    @timmus: “I’m starting to think that Ben needs to fire up another round of membership cancellations like in the old days.”

    I agree.

  49. Youthier says:

    @timmus: @MissPeacock: I do think it’s unfair to expect everyone to blindly pledge their alleigance to every poster though.

    But you two are right… people get too caught up in the no gas issue (which has happened to many people and my guess is that this woman felt like an idiot when she realized what was wrong) INSTEAD OF ANSWERING CHRIS’S QUESTION. He wants to know where he should go from here.

    Did Toyota’s contractor provide adequate service? I say no, they did not. Did Toyota provide fair compensation for the trouble? I say (as I did earlier) yes. So I agree with Jay – where you go from here is to take Toyota’s offer and go on, lessons learned.

  50. Sanveann says:

    Seriously, NO one here has ever run out of gas? Because I have maybe three times in the 15 years I’ve been driving. You think, “I can make it to the next exit,” or maybe you’ve just got something else on your mind and you forget to look at the gas gauge altogether. Granted, it’s been many years now since I’ve done that, but we were all young and made dumb mistakes at one point.

  51. AnderBobo says:

    I love all the holier-than-though posts blaming the OPs girlfriend. Things happen, sometimes you don’t have time to fill up, don’t realize til it’s too late, etc. That isn’t the point! They purchased roadside assistance preemptively and what they had been paying for was not delivered. That is the issue here, not what they should have done to prevent ever having to use the service they had been paying for, god forbid. If she wants to run out of gas every day during her commute that is her pregrogative and she should be entitled to the service she was promised.

  52. joemono says:

    @pmathews: Thirded, you’re an asshole. Though not as much as the comment I saw on Digg today making jokes about a guy who murdered his children. You stay classy, internet.

  53. RetailGuy83 says:

    @MissPeacock: I think when the article title includes the word “you” in it, then we need to be prepared for “you” (et all) to respond.

  54. Coder4Life says:

    yeah the road side assitance messed up and should be blamed but lot of this is your own fault.

    Couldn’t she of just flagged someone down or something. Also why is she drivign on Empty she would of never made it to the Day Care. She would of been late anyways.

  55. opsomath says:

    Holy crap, people. Mistakes happen. That’s why you have a backup plan…like having roadside assistance. Are you supercilious sonsofbitches telling me you’ve NEVER pushed your luck on a nearly-empty tank when rushing to do something urgent? Like, say, picking up your child from daycare?

    She specifically paid the company extra money to provide a service they did not provide. They should be providing some serious compensation. And yeah, AAA rocks and she should get that…they once towed my car from the boonies of the NC mountains back to Athens, GA (almost 100 miles) when the timing belt broke.

  56. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Wait. Did Chris buy the roadside service from Toyota? Or from the dealership? There is a difference, ya know. As far as I know, Toyota doesn’t provide (or sell) roadside service for the their “Toyota” branded cars. Only their Lexus cars come with factory roadside service for the first 3 or 4 years. Sounds like he needs to complain to the dealership and get a refund.

    And I agree with most of the comments.. AAA would have been a better choice. Sure the price of the AAA membership is the same as the dealer roadside service, but the AAA membership has other benefits and perks. It really is better value.

  57. Ben Popken says:

    @pmathews: Inappropriate.

  58. TPS Reporter says:

    I am not blaming the OP here, but I have had quite a few Toyotas, have a Corolla right now. And they have been notorious for the little orange light to come on when it gets a little below a 1/4 tank. It’s quite annoying as we can go quite a ways still. In the winter I don’t let it get that low though. But it seems like the dealer is offering something that is fair.

  59. PinkBox says:

    @Youthier: I’d have offered advice, but I think the consumerist was right that they had already been offered a reasonable solution.

    I admit I may be biased because I know women who refuse to put gas in their cars. They always make their husbands/boyfriends do it for them. I don’t get it. :/

  60. jasezero says:

    I’m a bit torn on this one. Yes, you did pay for the extra service. Yes, they didn’t exactly treat you very well. I think we can all agree to that and feel a bit for you on that end.

    But, the fact of the matter is, your wife obviously didn’t pay enough attention to the gas gauge OR her mileage indicator to realize that she was running on fumes. That is a major irresponsibility on her part and expecting someone to fix that for her is a little ridiculous.

    Maybe next time she’ll learn that “E” on the fuel gauge means fill your damn tank.

  61. dualityshift says:

    Anyone can run out of gas once or even twice. To openly blame the driver is foolish.

    If she ran out of gas on a weekly basis, well, that’s another story.

    I’m surprised we haven’t seen comments such as, she’s trying to scam some free gas.

  62. joemono says:

    A lot of youse guys are amateurs! A good friend of mine ran out of gas twice on the same day!

    Okay, maybe not much amateurs but rather not as dumb.

  63. MeOhMy says:

    AAA is not perfect. I once spent 3-4 hours waiting for a tow. I gave the operator explicit information: I am parked at the Quickie Mart on the corner of Main Street and Front Street in THIS City and the douchebag tow drivers REPEATEDLY stopped listening after “Quickie Mart on the corner of Main Street” and kept going to the Quickie Mart on the corner of Main Steet and HIGH Street in DIFFERENT City and couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t there! They were 10 miles away! Why did I bother giving a city AND a cross street?!

    I think the $25 gas card and the get-out-of-crappy-contract-free offer is pretty good. It’s a bit over the top to expect them to cover your daycare considering you would have been screwed there either way.

    And I also wouldn’t mind seeing the return of commenter public executions but I’m starting to think that we’re in a “More is better” situation and the quality of comments is not too improtant. Anybody remember when you had to beg for a commenter invite?

  64. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    Well, let me tell you that, yes, the first thing I did was tell her how bad for your car running out of gas can be. I also told her not to stretch her gas so far next time.

    As many others have pointed out, that is not at issue. The issue is that first extended has broken their contract with me and refused to talk to me about it.

  65. aeronaut says:

    Running out of gas is a mistake, nobody does it intentionally.

    According to recent newspaper articles, people are running out of gas more often these days. “I put $20 in the tank on Fridays” and similar behaviour just doesn’t cut it anymore. Old habits have to change.

    Even pilots run their airplanes out of gas from time to time. The risk of serious injury is a lot higher in a plane than car.

  66. fjordtjie says:

    the woman driver comments are ridiculous. seriously. i’ve seen some pretty jack-assish men driving too–going 30 over and smashing into stationary objects while SOBER. or flipping a car on a straight road (I still haven’t figured out how the hell he did it!) running out of gas is the most excusable kind of bad driving for me, and both genders do it.

    and for the comments about the gas, here’s how i could see it happening (though before I become awash in responses, it has never happened to me). she’s been driving alot for work (as he said) and it starts to get low, but she’s got a lot going on, with maybe work running late every day, then rushing to daycare, and then having the kid with her she doesn’t want to stop, rush hour traffic in the morning dropping the infant off, the usual endless cycle, with not a good time to stop for a fill up, so it gets low. it’s also an suv, so it probably empties about twice as quickly as my little car, but i’m not judging for that, but being a new and unfamiliar vehicle, she wouldn’t have known how far it can go beyond the E (for my car, it’s like 50 miles, so it’s no big deal if the light’s on). so the little light comes on, but CRAP it’s almost 5 and the daycare’s going to charge a late fee, i’ll get there and fill it up right away. but then it dies along the side of the road. and the guy they send takes an hour, doesn’t start it up, and leaves, while your child is sitting at daycare waiting for you. it had to be one of the most stressful days, let alone the heat and humidity. this is only a presumption, but it seems pretty logical.

    so back off the op. toyota has a contract to do it, and you shouldn’t have to call back and hassle them to complete the job to get you off the side of the highway. the agreement includes if it runs out of gas, so they are responsible to get the stated 3 gallons out there.

    my only question is why didn’t the guy writing the letter to consumerist come pick up his kid? he had enough time to call and yell at the dealership, but couldn’t just leave early (family emergency?) and pick up the child, then help his stranded girlfriend? it would have been a hassle, unneccessary due to the dealership agreement, but more commendable as a father.

    of course, everything I say isn’t based on fact, just assumptions, and when i assume, it makes an ass out of u and me!

  67. SOhp101 says:

    Hey Consumerist, refunding the warranty on a prorated schedule isn’t some special treatment–u can cancel your extended warranty anytime. The only “nice” thing that Toyota did is the $25 voucher, and that’s nothing compared to the amount of frustration she received. I don’t know if she’ll ever receive anything more though.

    AAA is now looking so much better.

    No, I’ve never ran out of gas. I have a pretty good estimate of how many gallons are in my tank after the light turns on and I know my mileage. Still doesn’t make the actions of the tow truck driver/roadside assistance did acceptable.

  68. Juggernaut says:

    @Spaceman Bill Leah: The violence was wrong BUT the kids can fend for themselves and she should have been making a sandwich or ironing a shirt at the very least.

  69. sir_eccles says:

    I read something over the weekend that roadside assistance groups are starting to be wary of who they give a free gallon of gas to. Some people are apparently abusing the system to get free gas (surprise). So they now actually check to see if your car starts first, will write down license numbers and names and will eventually start charging for that emergency gallon.

    Personally, when I used to have a car I reset the trip meter every fill up and knew it was about 300 miles between fills and I still had a fair reserve left before the light would go on.

  70. christoj879 says:

    @Youthier: Agreed, I think they offered a decent resolution. Don’t drive on empty :)

    If you or she has an American Express Gold card, they offer roadside assistance at no extra charge. What they do is pay the first $50 or 10 miles, and you pay anything over that. You get it 4 times a year, the only times it was extra was very late at night and on a Sunday (not all my tows thank God). But you do have to pay for the gas.

    And even though I think it was irresponsible of her to get stuck on the freeway, I remember when I was broke and 16 driving on empty, and getting stuck in the rich part of town and having to pay an extra 40 cents a gallon to get home. I think that lasted a few months, now I understand that cars can’t magically run on nothing.

  71. Gopher bond says:

    @IphtashuFitz: I have AAA Plus too and once when my water pump exploded at 2:30AM in the middle of nowhere they towed me 107 miles home and stopped for coffee on the way.

    Another time an ugly fat girl that spent the night in my apartment locked the keys in her car that morning and instead of having to go out and be seen with her, I just called AAA and told her to go outside and wait for them. Lol, true story.

    But no AAA isn’t perfect. It’s all subcontracting and you get turds every now and then. I’ve found that slipping them a $20 tip is worth every penny. I’ve even had one guy stop at the store and pick up a radiator hose for me.

  72. Stormslanding says:

    I think she just got caught at the wrong time. A lot of people are pulling the ran out of gas scam to get the 3 gallons of gas, I mean thats like saving 12 bucks. I am sure if this happened a year ago, the drive would have brought the full 3 gallons.

  73. Snarkysnake says:


    AAA can be OK…If you are in certain areas.Like Happy Planet,where they always arrive proptly and professionally. Otherwise,take a hard look at AAA.

    Fact- AAA strong arms thir affiliated tow drivers into giving them a BIG discount for all of the business they send them. When its a AAA call (at a reduced rate) vs. a call from someone paying full fare,care to guess what happens ? (don’t wait until your timing belt breaks ,in the rain,in downtwon BIG CITY,to answer that question.

    Fact- AAA has centarlized call centers (here where I live,anyway). That means that a person hundreds of miles away will be coordinating the tow truck from a (dry) cubicle and out of sight of your wife or daughter or whomever is having a problem. This leads to a certain…Laxness. Beware.I speak from experience here.

    Fact- AAA’s basic service only tows your car for a few miles. CHECK HOW MANY before you sign up.Out west, there are spots where a tow to a station could be many more miles at a much higer rate than you would like. You could easily spend a bundle on a “covered” tow.

    Fact- AAA has a limit on the number of tow services that you can use in a year. this penalizes someone who’s car was fixed incorrectly and is disabled again by the road. It also works against the family with a lot of cars. (God help that family nowadays)

    Fact- AAA has millions of members . They don’t give a shit if you leave. They are just another unresponsive company.

    All that said, Remember you are NOT buying a car or warranty from Toyota- You are buying it from a Toyota DEALER. Their interests and Toyota’s interests are not always the same.

  74. Snarkysnake says:

    *I just want to apologize for the spelling errors in my last post.It’s the meds…

  75. Farquar says:

    @Coder4Life: Chicks (I can be a sexist pig too) really shouldn’t flag down random strangers for help on the highway unless they are very ugly. Its better to wait for a person you have specifically called for help. And honestly, if they are really ugly do you really think anyone is going to to take the time to stop and help them out?

    As for the rest of the asshats.. I ran out of gas once.. I’m an idiot unworthy of breathing the same oxygen as the rest of you.

    To the OP: I think you’ve probably been reimbursed as much as you will be.. Unless you have used the extended warranty for other repairs you might demand a complete refund of the entire cost of the extended warranty as opposed to a prorated refund.

  76. Gopher bond says:

    @Snarkysnake: Yeah, that’s why I always tip AAA drivers at least $20, make it worth their while, plus, it’s cash with no paper trail. And I tip as soon as possible.

  77. Farquar says:


    FACT – The FACT format of your post is, well, douchebaggeryish.

    FACT – Your post is too damn long.


    See FACT (2) above. I can assure you that no one is reading any of what you wrote.

  78. Farquar says:

    uh oh.. nibbles is stealing posts again.

  79. PinkBox says:

    @Farquar: I agree 100%. I had a car strand me before, and was lucky that a police was nearby to help me.

    They actually parked nearby and waited over an hour for my ride/help to arrive… which was definitely a good thing since I was wearing a rather short skirt.

    Come to think of it, the skirt may have helped flag down some help if I needed it. :P

  80. kc2idf says:

    I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice, but just a suggestion of how I would handle this situation:

    I would Call Classic Toyota again. I would tell them that I want:

    1. A complete refund for the warranty. It is clearly defective. If it worked, then I would accept pro-ration, but clearly, it is broken.

    2. compensation for the girlfriend’s time from the point where the “rescue” guy left to the part where she actually got off rolling again (which, I gather, is two hours). I would charge it at whatever hourly rate she makes, or the hourly equivalent if she is salaried. Yes, she made a mistake in running out of gas, but that only accounts for 1 hour. When the guy showed up, he should have known what he was dealing with, and already had the gas on hand, and not left with the problem unresolved.

    3. If I had to waste any of my time at work, had to leave the office, or otherwise fuck around with this mess, I would add my cost to #2.

    I would tell them that the $25 gas card doesn’t cut it, and that they have until Friday to resolve this.

    Next: I would call AAA and get signed up. Right now you are essentially uncovered. You need to take care of yourself and your girlfriend.

    Finally, if Friday comes and goes without resolution, I would give them one final call Monday Morning. If they still don’t have an acceptable solution, I would, that same day, take the amount I mentioned above, tack on an additional $100 (to cover court costs and the further fucking around involved), and file a small claims case. I would name Toyota, Classic Toyota, First Extended and Roadside Rescue as defendants, since none of them seems to want to take responsibility for this. This forces them to hash it out amongst themselves.

    Finally, I would make sure to tell a few thousand of my closest friends about the experience, which you have now done :-)

    I wish you the best of luck.

  81. RevRagnarok says:

    @Me: No way. I hate AAA and I say USAA FTW!

    My AAA story (1 minute version): It took them FOUR hours to get a tow truck to pick up my friend’s family. He’s legally blind, and his very pregnant wife (7-8 months) was picking him up at the train station when the car died. With two under kids (IIRC ages 5 & 7) in the car. So, AAA triage decided that a pregnant woman, a blind guy, and two young kids weren’t important enough. Oh, and before anybody asks if it was out in Bumf–k, it was at the Amtrak station next to BWI – so right in the middle of the Baltimore/Washington Corridor. We lived 20 minutes away and ended up coming and taking the kids to the air conditioned McDonald’s, and luckily at dusk (around hour three) a state trooper set up flares.

    On another note, I’ve never ran out of gas myself. but I have had an old car start sputtering on hard corners tho! ;) And I’ve heard from multiple people that Dodge Neons can go about two highway exits once the idiot light is on.

  82. Farquar says:


    The skirt helped you get the 5-0 assistance. I had an alternator fail once at 2 in the morning… I’m stranded on a rural highway at 2 am as not one, but two, troopers cruised by.

    They aren’t helping some random guy without cleavage and legs that don’t quit. Secretly they are hoping that their assitance will magically morph into a porno.

  83. gaberussell says:

    The internet is really a great place to proclaim how much smarter you are than everyone else, but I’d like a way to filter out these asshats who think they’re infallible. How about a Digg or Slashdot type of system where we can vote stupid comments down into oblivion?

    I also enjoy BoingBoing’s new “disemvowelling” policy, where pointless comments are stripped of their vowels. Makes them look pretty silly.

  84. RevRagnarok says:

    Surprised nobody linked to [] yet. ;)

  85. PinkBox says:

    @Farquar: I think the time of day and being in front of a gas station helped in my case. I was kind of blocking traffic. I didn’t need to unleash the almighty skirt in this case.

    Maybe I should keep a skirt in my car for emergencies, just to be safe.

    @Snarkysnake: Thanks for the info! Definitely helpful. :)

  86. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    @kc2idf: Some of the best advice on this article so far, I think.

    Thank you (if it hasn’t become clear yet, I’m the OP).

  87. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    @MrBill38: Also, yes. this is exactly what happened. The light on the Rav4 comes on somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 of a tank of gas. This is a brand new car, and she got a little too comfortable with how long she could drive it with the warning light on.

    It was a mistake, and it won’t be made again.

  88. neilb says:

    I have to go against the sentiment here and agree with the OP. He deserves an apology and all companies involved have to bear a consequence.
    The dealership should not sell a shoddy product. Insurance is the worst thing to be shoddy because it HAS to be there if you need it and most people will never discover if they bought a good service or a facade.

    If the dealership cannot stand by their product then it should not sell it. If the dealership shrugs it off then the manufacturer needs to take responsibility. These are brand-reputation issues.

    If we accept the argument that the selling entity’s decision to use a poor subcontractor is the purchaser’s fault (and that the seller is not responsible for what they sell) then we are ALL screwed.

    This line of reasoning will promote all of our products and services to be provided in the cheapest way possible, including ways that do not deliver adequate service.

    Ever send a mail-in rebate into an irresponsibly-subcontracted company? How did that feel?

    To extrapolate a lot….the subprime mortgage crisis is due to “subcontracted” loan officers passing the garbage upstream and absolving themselves of the responsibility.

    We need sellers to take responsibility! Only then can we be assured that we will get what they promise us when we pay for it.

  89. slymaple01 says:

    I owned a RAV4’s and I know that if the gas empty warning comes on there is still enough gas to drive for at least 30Miles before it will really die. That should be enough to allow you to get to the next exit and gas up. Still I don’t risk it that much and drive to the gas station if I see the warning sign. Why Chris’ wife didn’t do that I don’t know.

  90. MadameX says:

    Is it common for a dealership to sell a third-party extended warranty on a new car? The only times I’ve ever bought them, they were contracts with the manufacturer of the vehicle.

  91. ohiomensch says:

    You know, usually I am appalled at the way some people ALWAYS blame the OP. But in this case, I have to agree. since I had a learner’s permit my father insisted that my car was never allowed to go below 1/4 tank. Its bad for the fuel system and just asking to run out and be stranded. And even tho I have “free roadside assistance” with both my car purchase AND my car insurance. I still have AAA. I just felt I had to go with the most reliable company even if it costs more. Lesson learned. The driver was an asshat.

    Once I got stranded once by a AAA driver because he got a call from the police on an impound and he told me, they pay more than AAA so I have to go. 5 hours waiting and AAA sent the same guy back. Sometimes you just have to let it go and get over it.

  92. Corydon says:


    My other half works for AAA and he says that the number of “out of gas” calls have been shooting up lately. No doubt this is partly due to people trying to stretch a tank of gas further to the next payday. Another part may be the small number of people who see their annual membership as a means of (slightly) reducing their gas bill.

    To all the people complaining about the girlfriend running out of gas, remember that she was driving a new car. It takes a while to figure out just how far you can go once the low fuel indicator comes on. Perhaps her old car gave her an extra 30 miles once it got down to fumes so that’s what she was used to.


    I’m kind of at one remove from the company, since I only hear what my other half knows and goes through. I can’t speak to their contracting policies, since that’s something that neither he nor I am privy to.

    Our local AAA call center covers the entire state. In addition, they will take overflow from other states from time to time. On the other hand, as part of the hiring process they do actually test your knowledge of local driving geography as part of the hiring process so you’ll actually know something about the area you’re supporting.

    You’re right that you want to avoid the basic service, especially if you live in a rural area. You get four miles of towing and that’s it. Fine if you mostly drive in a city. Not so good in BFE. Better to go with the “Plus” if most of your driving is on the interstate.

    Each member gets up to four roadside assistance calls per year. Frankly, it’s kind of hard for me to see anyone going past that legitimately. Yes, as you point out, if you got a bad repair, you could break down twice. But in order to go over the limit, you’d have to get four bad repairs in a row. That ought to be telling you something about the quality of your mechanic or your vehicle or your maintenance program. I’ve owned my current truck for ten years and I haven’t had to call for roadside assistance once (and it’s a Dodge!)

    The nice thing is that your membership isn’t tied to a vehicle (like insurance is), it’s tied to you. So you can still use them if you have trouble with a friend’s car or a rental.

    I don’t see any problems with a company putting limits on their liability so long as they’re clear and easy to understand. My local AAA seems to fit the bill there. Just remember that they’re a safety net, not your first line of defense, and you’ll do fine.

  93. libbybee says:

    Guess what? People run out of gas for reasons OTHER than not paying attention.

    Two weeks ago, I ran out of gas on the offramp because when I left my house I had a little less than 1/4 of a tank–plenty of gas for my car to make it to the gas station before I ran out.

    Turns out it wasn’t, and that it wasn’t my fault either–I was leaking fuel the whole way from the house.

    Stop blaming the OP’s girlfriend and focus on the issue at hand–shitty roadside assistance people suck.

  94. Youthier says:

    @Farquar: The skirt doesn’t help if you’re underage. My cute friend was wearing a short skirt (and I’m not hideous looking) when we were stranded on the side of the road and three cop cars drove by in two hours. In December. In Michigan. We were 15 and 16 at the time so my only thought was we must have looked like a felony waiting to happen.

    We did get two ride offers – two twenty something hunters with an aresnel of guns in the bed of their truck and a middle-aged lesbian couple.

  95. macinjosh says:

    I hate using Google Reader because by the time I see the article, all the good comments are taken. :( Anyhoo…


    “That is a major irresponsibility on her part and expecting someone to fix that for her is a little ridiculous.”

    Expecting someone to provide a solution they offer is ridiculous? Like you said, she paid for a service, which includes providing gasoline. If running out of gas is a hellworthy trespass, it should not be in their stable of services.

    As for scamming free gas, they should just charge for it, hopefully something close to a normal price. (does that go against the principle of Roadside Assistance?) if I’ve run out of gas, my problem is not buying gas, but getting more into my car.

  96. GearheadGeek says:

    @libbybee: So in your case, your car was a safety and environmental hazard and you needed a tow, not a can of gas. There was no mention in the original posting about a problem causing the car to leak fuel, and in the absence of some mechanical problem (fuel leak, faulty gas gauge, etc.) it’s the driver’s responsibility to keep fuel in the tank.

    It’s also the account holder’s responsibility to keep money in the bank account, and the 3-gallon service offered with roadside assistance is much like the overdraft protection available on checking accounts… insurance that’s good to have and better never to use.

  97. Fishcoteque says:

    I’ve done roadside assistance before (worst 7 months of my life).

    You cannot sue. There is a clause on your contract that states that you cannot take legal action for being inconvenienced (ie- lost time, lost wages, meals while waiting for service).

    If you look in the contract, it probably states that the service provider can bring *up to* 3 gallons of gas. Not 3 gallons. It really depends on who the service provider is in the situation. Many places don’t even have big enough gas cans.

    Roadside assistance is just that: assistance. Enough gas to get you to the next gas station. It’s dangerous to drive with a container of fuel.

    While I agree that it was certainly irresponsible of your girlfriend, you had RA for that reason. However, if it happens again, tell the person on the other end that you will need two shipments of fuel (thus deducting twice from your plan). That way, the service provider will be compensated, and you’ll get enough fuel to get you on your way.

  98. mac-phisto says:

    all threadjacking aside, Me is right – AAA is #1. first of all, it’s not connected to a single vehicle like what insurance cos. or roadside assistance plans like this one. more than once, i have stopped for a stranded motorist & used my membership to get them help – it’s just the right thing to do.

    another thing to keep in mind w/ insurance roadside assistance – some (if not all) insurance cos. will use ra claims against you when they re-evaluate your policy premiums.

  99. mac-phisto says:

    @Snarkysnake: & those facts are all true. still, AAA is better than any other offering i’ve seen. just pony up the extra $$$ for PLUS membership (i think i get 100 miles of towing/yr or something outrageous like that).

    all i know is one year i had a rash of calling AAA (like once a month) & i never had a problem.

  100. GearheadGeek says:

    re: AAA standard, plus, etc.: If you expect to avail yourself of the tow very often, Plus is worth it. however, with Standard, you still get that first 4 miles free, and a big part of the first mile is the “hook-up” charge, so you’re still saving money.

    I joined AAA when my partner was commuting 60 miles each way to the rural EMS service he worked with at the time and his roadside assistance ran out on the WRX. I just didn’t want him to be stuck out in the Hill Country at 0500, there aren’t many people driving by. We’ve used it more for free maps and travel books than roadside assistance… I needed a jumpstart in my old GTI the day I was planning to go from the office to Autozone for a new battery because I could hear that it wasn’t cranking the engine over as fast as usual… waited one day too long for that one, but the jump was free.

    We save almost enough buying my partner a new pair of glasses every couple of years to almost justify the membership for that alone, so it’s pretty cheap peace of mind.

  101. Farquar says:

    So all you haters, explain this to me:

    When these roadside assistance programs are sold they are sold with the explicit feature of: If you run out of gas we will come and give you road side assistance. This typically entails a few gallons of gas.

    They are sold with the understanding that when people run out of gas it is generally their own fault.

    So even though company sells a service with the expectation that it will be used when driver does something stupid, you are now saying because driver has done something stupid they don’t deserve the service.

    There is a logical misstep somewhere in there. I can’t quite place it, but I’m sure its there.

  102. thalia says:

    The girlfriend should have been paying attention to her gas gauge. There’s even a light that comes on and dings when you’re running low if you’re not one to check your gauges. I couldn’t imagine running out of gas and being unaware of it!

    But the fact that roadside assistance left when she was STILL stranded…well, seems to render their services pointless to me. I’d go for the refund, mate.

  103. urban_ninjya says:

    @Me: Most roadside assistance is outsourced to AAA, which outsources to independant tow truck companies to handle the incidents.

    Having AAA in that case wouldn’t of really helped. That was a decision made by the bad independant tow truck operator that took the call.

  104. Speak says:

    @joemono: I like your friend already. But then again I’m not the one who has to bail him or her out.

    @MissPeacock: Agreed. Snark can be funny but not personal attacks that have nothing to do with the issue in discussion.

  105. verdegrrl says:

    Running out of gas is bad for the car. In most cars the fuel pump lives in the tank and is cooled by the fuel. When you get really low or run out of fuel, the pump no longer has cooling. It may shorten the life of the pump.

    Also, think of fuel injectors as little pins inside a tiny pipe. The head of the pin moving back and forth is what allows fuel into the cylinder. This pin is normally cushioned by fuel and it squeezes off flow at the end of each cycle as it opens and closes. When there is no fuel, there is no cushion. The head of the pin meets the edges of the pipe abruptly. Not good for injectors.

    So for the sake of convenience and safety both now and down the road when the car gets older, don’t run your car out of fuel.

    As for the person who got stranded by her own actions as well as the incompetence of the emergency service, the service needs to do their job as contracted. Period. If they can’t, get out of the contract and find somebody who will.

  106. chiieddy says:

    Too all ragging on the poor woman for running out of gas. We don’t know the circumstances here. There could be plenty of reasons she ran out.

    The only time I ever ran out was when I had bought a new (used) car and didn’t realize the second half of the gas gauge ran down MUCH (MUCH MUCH) faster than the first. After that, I filled at half a tank.

    We don’t know if it was her vehicle, some vehicles, the gas light comes on and it means business, others, you could still go another 100 miles.

  107. AlexTNOA says:

    She should move to Illinois. We have the Emergency Traffic Patrol which literally patrols the tollways to provide assistance to people who have car emergencies. They will provide free gas to people who run out of it.

  108. I read the literature on one program. The standard was ONE gallon of gas.

    Those mini gas jugs are usually ONE gallon.

    A wisp of gas would have started the car, so even 1/2 gallon should have been enough.

    Sorry OP, better luck next time. Oh, and next time, don’t run out of gas.

  109. Zimorodok says:

    Speaking as someone whose tank has turned up empty when the needle was on 1/8, it IS possible to run out of gas without knowing it.

  110. ezmobee says:

    AllState’s roadside assistance left my then pregnant wife and I stranded when my truck overheated. There had been a snowstorm so apparently a lot of their tow trucks were unavailable. They basically told me call back after 9 when it wouldn’t be so busy (it was 6:30) and gave me some numbers of tow services I could call myself! Once we finally got back home I cancelled all of my AllState insurance products that day and went to USAA.

  111. Concerned_Citizen says:

    “But all told my girlfriend spend 3 hours on the side of the freeway in 95 degree heat and 60% humidity because the roadside assistance guy “doesn’t get paid enough.””

    Why do people always add things like 95 degree heat and 60% humidity to it? Those are irrelevant factors. If anything it being worse outside will justify it taking longer for service. I am surprised you didn’t put her age in there also, as a lot of people think age changes things.(Of course you did get it in with the child)

    Although, it does definitely seem like the guy driving out there is pocketing the extra gas money. If he is only bringing .5 gallons instead of 3 to everyone he assists, he is making an extra 10 bucks on each trip. The company in charge of that has a very bad theft problem on their hands.

    That of course is Toyota’s problem, your problem is a girlfriend that doesn’t know how to use a gas gauge. And if your infant child being outside in 95 degrees is such a horrible situation, why are you having such an irresponsible person pick your child up?

  112. thinwhiteduke says:

    To all defending this dim bulb of a gf Chris has, how many circumstances are actually valid for running out of gas?

    Didn’t see the needle on E? Impossible.

    Didn’t hear the chimes or notice the visual notification of low fuel warning? Impossible.

    Saying its unknown just how far you can go once the gas light comes on is no excuse, and don’t you think if you don’t know any intelligent person would play it safe and fill up?

    Fact is I’ve never known anyone other than females who play the low fuel light game. There are zero reasons/circumstances that justify running out of gas (except for Keauna Reeves sticking a screwdriver in your gas tank while trying to hold on to the bottom of your car).

  113. @Sanveann: No. Consumerist commenters are perfect. They NEVER make a mistake. And they know EVERYTHING.


    I’ve run out of gas twice in my 33 years. The first time, I was 16. I misjudged how much gas I needed to get to the next station. Yeah, it was dumb to push it but that’s what teenagers do: dumb stuff.

    The second time I ran out, I was in my late 20s. My gauge was broken: it moved, but it wasn’t accurate. I shared to car with my father and he said he would put gas in it, but he forgot. So I hop in, see the needle at half, and start my 45 minute commute. When my car started slowing down, the gauge read 1/4 tank. I thought I was having engine trouble. When the car completely stopped, the light still wasn’t on.

    People make silly mistakes and shit happens.

  114. kc2idf says:

    @WiglyWorm: You are entirely welcome. I hope it works out for you.

  115. Carencey says:

    adding another one to the AAA chorus. it’s not all sunshine, lollipops and instant service, especially if your breakdown happens at night or on a weekend, but it is better than anything else out there, and far better than nothing at all. I got my money’s worth out of the Plus upgrade as well — about two years ago, my car broke down, and AAA towed it in town, but it turned out that the problem was due to an unserviced recall (yes, I can only imagine the chorus of comments I would have gotten here for not including the Nissan dealership on my list of address updates, and not perusing recall notices in my spare time) and the car had to go to the dealership which was out in the suburbs. AAA Plus covered not only the extra tow to the dealership, but a ride back to my apartment complex. yes, I tipped! I am actually “road-testing” the Premium membership right now, and as usual, nothing has happened for me to test the SPECIAL Premium member line but I’ll let y’all know if it does. Oh, and for the OP, you should be able to get your own membership and add your girlfriend on as an associate member at reduced rate, instead of paying for two separate memberships.

  116. Snarkysnake says:


    “FACT – Your post is too damn long.”

    Then stop reading. Sounds like an attention span problem.

  117. ShadowFalls says:

    I’m sorry, this is the kind of thing where blaming the “victim” is really true. Short of your gas gauge being broken, how do you run out of gas? I don’t know anyone who lets it get under a quarter tank.

    Now for not getting the service provided, a full refund, not a prorate is in order as they failed to provide the service they offered and thus broke the contract.

  118. Farquar says:


    Actually, the point is, (though apparently these things are lost on most people here) it doesn’t matter why she ran out of gas. She paid for a service that was supposed to assist her in this specific situation, and didn’t.

    If the program was written so that it excluded coverage when the policy holder was at fault it would be worthless. Of course I shouldn’t run out gas. Of course I shouldn’t lock my keys in my car. Of course I should regularly check my hoses and battery.I have paid for a service that will save my ass when I screw up, and they have promised to provide that service when I need it.

  119. MrEvil says:

    If the OPs girlfriend has learned to check the fuel gauge before starting an outing she’ll do alright in the future. I drove my ’92 Explorer for the better part of two years without a working fuel gauge and ran out of gas only twice. My dad kept running his stuff out of gas all of which had working gauges.

    That roadside guy was a total douche too. And 1/2 gallon won’t start a car, but 1 should definitely get the lines primed.

  120. calvinneal says:

    Your headline states Toyota’s Roadside Assistance leaves person stranded. Consumerist knows Toyota does not offer roadside assistance.That being the case, the extended warranty had absolutely nothing to do with Toyota Motors. Why blame them? The warranty is backed by some company not associated with Toyota. Classic Toyota is in Mentor, Ohio. If this guys girlfriend was stranded in 95 degree heat, it didn’t happen this year and it surely didn’t happen near Cleveland. There is much hyperbole in the complaint. As far as naming Toyota as a defendant in a suit, there is no cause. Toyota was not involved. The dealer is a franchise.

  121. ORPat says:

    I don’t get the money he “saved” by getting the Dealer package Vs AAA. The ultimate package I can find, which includes an RV, would cost me $204.95 for 2 drivers. If That’s all the deal I can get on a car, I will find another dealer.

  122. ChuckECheese says:

    A friend of mine had Toyota’s roadside assistance, and couldn’t get a tow because he was on a toll road. Toyota said they didn’t service toll roads.

  123. thinwhiteduke says:

    @Farquar: I understand what you’re saying, I guess it was more interesting to talk about this girl’s bad decisions over faking shock and outrage over a company giving shitty service.

    I’m more curious about who in the hell buys a car with their bf/gf?

  124. AnderBobo says:

    @Farquar: THANK YOU! I’m so sick of the comments citing how “idiotic” the OPs girlfriend was for running out of gas, when we have no idea what circumstances surrounding the situation are! And the service that was (not) provided is EXACTLY for situations LIKE THIS! It’s not like she was begging some random company to bring her gas. I can’t believe how lost this is getting amongst the commentors, may all their gas gauges malfunction and leave them stranded once in their life.

  125. “Dear Consumerist,
    I recently bought a new car, and a day or so later it stopped running. A friend says it’s probably out of gas. My question is: How can I tell if I am out of gas? Is there a guage or something? Do your readers have any tips on how I can avoid running out of gas in the future?”

    I had to improvise, because I seem to have missed that question in the post up top, but since so many people are answering that question, I figured it must have been asked.

  126. bohemian says:

    We have Verizon roadside assistance. We ended up using it 8 times within a 12 month period of time. Nobody complained or said we used it too much. It was a series of bad luck events including my car breaking down out of town on a trip when it was 90+ degrees and I had no clue where anything was.
    The majority of the tows the drivers were decent and seemed to know what they were doing. It is worth $4 month to know there will be someone there to save my bacon. The first thing they ask you is if your in a safe situation. I don’t know what they do if your not, maybe call the police or HP?

  127. trujunglist says:

    There are a lot of reasons for her running out of gas, but to all you who just can’t figure out how she could’ve possible run out of gas, look no further than the GODDAMN ARTICLE.

    It explicitly states that the OPs girlfriend was on her way to pick up his daughter from daycare. Anyone who has ever experienced daycare and the gross charges that come with not picking up on time would understand why she maybe thought she could make it to the daycare first before filling up. It just so happens that she was wrong, ran out of gas, and still has to pay the pickup charges.

  128. donkeyjote says:

    @bohemian: Verizon? Did they set fire to your car?

  129. Farquar says:


    Dude, this is consumerist. Faking shock and outrage over a company giving shitty service is what we do here.

  130. thinwhiteduke says:

    @Farquar: I’m new, so I’m still learning the ropes of appropriate levels of whining and :O faces.

  131. shifuimam says:

    Am I seriously the only person with roadside assistance on my car insurance policy?

    It’s only $6 extra on my six-month premium. It doesn’t cover the cost of the actual gas, but being able to call an 800 number 24/7 if I’m stranded sure is nice. And really, really inexpensive.

  132. jswilson64 says:

    @Me: AAA has a fast response? Since when? I never waited less than 90 minutes for a tow when I had AAA, and a couple of times it was 3 hrs. Not in the boonies, either, in Austin, TX.

  133. donkeyjote says:

    @thinwhiteduke: Keep those :O faces to yourself…. or Fleshbot.

  134. picardia says:

    @Farquar: You are 100% right. What the driver did or didn’t do wrong is IRRELEVANT. The fact is, Toyota sold roadside assistance. Toyota did not deliver roadside assistance. Ergo, Toyota is not to be trusted with roadside assistance.

    I’ve personally never run out of gasoline, but I can pretty well guarantee you that every person on this board who is snarking at her for having done so has done something equally stupid, or more so. (To judge by the intelligence level of the posts, they do so frequently.) We all make mistakes sometimes; people buy stuff like roadside assistance to cushion those inevitable mistakes. When roadside assistance doesn’t deliver, it’s a ripoff.

    At least they let the guy out of the contract.

  135. sean77 says:

    @MissPeacock: yeah, we should ban you.

    I can’t believe how many people here think people should be banned just because they disagree with them. “We should ban everyone who doesn’t immediately side with the consumer”. Gimme a break you small-minded nitwits.

  136. Zclyh3 says:


    YES. The one and ONLY mistake was the fact that your girlfriend decided to run the car at E until it was empty. She brought this WHOLE situation upon herself. This entire fiasco could have been easily avoided if your gf made the proper decision to actually fill the vehicle with gas.

  137. Jmatthew says:

    AAA owns all. They have their own fleet here in Portland too.

    VW/Audi roadside assistance is pretty solid too. (I work for VW/Audi though, and while I’m pretty sure that doesn’t effect my service, it does make me a little biased).

    The whole point of roadside assitance programs is to help you out when you do something stupid. If everybody was on top of everything all the time there would be no point. Of course you could probably say that about any insurance plan.

  138. sean77 says:

    I once threw a rod on I10 about 40 miles southeast of phoenix. It was the middle of August, and it was 112 degrees outside and very humid (end of monsoon season). I sat patiently for 3 hours waiting on AAA to come, and I still paid $200 for the tow (at the time I had AAA basic, they only tow you 5 miles for free). Did I bitch and moan, even though I sat there in worse weather and waiting longer than the OP? No, it’s a funny story to tell people at work (I remember sitting on my trunk, playing my guitar, while people drove by and honked).

  139. any such name says:

    Your problem? BUYING A CAR FROM CLASSIC.
    Those guys are douchebags and I was very sad to see them buy out Quality in Madison.

    I got my Toyota at Motorcars in Cleveland Heights and got a great deal and no-hassle service from a woman whose name I wish I could remember right now. Anyone on the east side of Cleveland – go there instead!

  140. TechnoDestructo says:

    You don’t have a contract with the subcontractor. You shouldn’t have to wrestle with them. The warranty company should make up for the incident and THEY should wrestle with the subcontractor.

  141. any such name says:

    I’m also fairly certain (without the actual paperwork here in front of me) that my extended warranty was with TOYOTA, not this “First Extended”, which sounds like some aftermarket extended warranty. So truly, the headline is misleading because this isn’t Toyota’s Roadside Assistance program, it’s someone this First Extended contracted out to.

  142. GearheadGeek says:

    @calvinneal: Not that I side with the OP on the running-out-of-gas issue, but WeatherUnderground says that the high temp in Cleveland the week of 8 June-14 June was 93. Close enough, though it seems to be an outlier as the highs have been in the upper 70s since.

  143. cerbie says:

    @humphrmi: 1/2 gal may be enough, but it may not be, and even if it were, may not be a good idea. My car allegedly needs 2 gallons or so in the tank before it will start if it were to be run down dry.

    There may be parts cooled by fuel, as well (such as the fuel pump…), or at least designed to expect some fuel moving in them when attempting to run.

    Modern pumps can keep you from needing to get gas directly to the engine, but multiple gallons are often needed to get you even close to the empty mark. Assume there’s good reason for it.

    I doubt it’s worth a lawsuit, but being very stern with the roadside assistance company sounds like a good idea. Maybe check if there are any regulatory agencies you can complain to, as well.

    I also agree she shouldn’t have been running that low, but that’s beside the point. If that were it, and the roadside assistance guy had come within an hour, with multiple gallons, her BF would lecture her about it several times, and we’d never know it happened.

  144. Jmatthew says:

    You should have stopped and given the door person your reciept. It’s your own fault for being stupid and running out of sugar in the first place, you shouldn’t expect them to replace your sugar just because you give them money, when you’re too stupid not to keep stocked up on sugar!


  145. cerbie says:

    @sir_eccles: given gas prices, they should consider their coming out there the service you pay for, and you pay for the fuel on the next bill from where-ever-you-get-your-assistance-membership.

  146. emis says:

    Running out of gas is only excusable if you have a failure which causes the gas gauge to read incorrectly…

    …and if you’re a true consumerist that margin of incorrectness should be fairly small, maybe three gallons at most, as you should be tracking your miles per tank (fill-up) to make sure that your car is running correctly, and to see if certain gas stations give you fuel that doesn’t take you as far as others :*)

    Basically yeah… it’s your luck that she ran out of gas before getting the baby rather then after… the extra you paid the day care center to keep your baby safe is the “stupid tax” for you and your girlfriend… keep your tank above 1/4 at all times!

    Roadside assistance giving out less gas is the rest of the large number of people taking advantage of these types of plans by claiming to be out of gas, getting their $10 worth and moving on… apparently some people have a lot of time on their ends, but not much sense.

  147. Elvisisdead says:

    Violence isn’t funny – unless your domestic partner is a clown. If that’s the case, then backhand with a halibut.

  148. emis says:

    @thinwhiteduke: Fact is I’ve never known anyone other than females who play the low fuel light game. There are zero reasons/circumstances that justify running out of gas (except for Keauna Reeves sticking a screwdriver in your gas tank while trying to hold on to the bottom of your car).

    Dude… Seriously? I’ve got a guy friend who only puts about $5-10 in his car at a time… it’s amazing, he’s constantly on “E”… and he’s done this forever, not just since gas prices have gone up…

  149. GearheadGeek says:

    @emis: Your friend doesn’t think much of the value of his own time, apparently. Having to constantly stop at gas stations to buy around 2 gallons of gas wastes a LOT of time over the course of a month. It wasn’t SO bad at $2/gallon, I guess, every once in a while he was putting in a whole 5 gallons. I’m guessing he never drives very far.

  150. Kerkira says:


    Cripes – stop breeding already…@

  151. opsomath says:

    What is it about this post that brings all the chauvinist douchebags out of the woodwork? I wouldn’t think they’d hang out around a Gawker site.

  152. Kerkira says:

    The OP’s gf’s car likely became (somewhat) of a safety hazard when she got stuck as well. If Roadside Assistance is not able to get the vehicle running again, then they should tow it (I note that the responder came out in a van, so they would have had to dispatch a tow truck). Though I believe that the running-out-of-gas-will-wreck-your-car commenters are overstating the case, we can take them at their word, in which case Roadside Assistance should have considered the possibility that the fuel pump or some injectors went belly up and provide a tow.

  153. @kc2idf: Well, atleast SOMEONE cared to give advice rather than finger pointing.

    Also, as a side note, though im not a big fan of hitting girls (except with their consent), you white folks need to

    “>beat your kids.

    (Its a joke, and i dont care if some humorless person thinks its not funny.)

  154. @Lucifer_Cat: i meant to link this:



  155. RevRagnarok says:

    @Elvisisdead: Oh c’mon, we all know it’s supposed to be… a herring! (cue dramatic music!)

  156. katewrath says:

    First of all, mistakes happen. That’s the whole point of roadside assistance. What’s the best case scenario here, OP haters? That woman should sit on the shoulder of the road until she dies of her own stupidity?

    Secondly, you can be METICULOUS about your car and still find yourself in a bad spot. My Civic gets 450 miles to a tank of gas, if the tires are properly inflated and I don’t run the AC a lot. So if my gas light comes on at 390 or 410, I assume it’s because I’ve parked on an incline and drive on. Nearly always, the light turns off and I’ve made the right choice.

    One time in a hundred, my tires will have lost an unusual amount of air since my last monthly check, or unbeknownst to me, my husband will have run the A/C nonstop while out doing errands in my car, and the light will stay on. Then I pull into a gas station and fill up.

    But if I were distracted, or in a hurry to get to my destination, I might not realize the light hadn’t gone off. And I’d probably be speeding, which would destroy my fuel economy.

    I know it’s pointless — the whole point of Consumerist is to trash our fellow man and feel good about the fact that nothing but rose petals every slips out of our shiny platinum anuses — but it had to be said. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go finish vacuuming the cave under my bridge. All the other trolls are coming over for bridge night and I don’t want them to make fun of my dust bunnies.

  157. @katewrath: sheesh kate, spare us your wrath! Its the internet, what do you expect. You do have a point regarding circumstances, but well, fact remains that 99% of such incidents are because the Problem is Between The Wheel and The Seat. But yeah, its unfair to tear into someone without knowing the circumstances.

    AND, /thats/ exactly the reason you buy extended warranties and stuff like that. And you should get what you paid for, irrespective of whether it was your fault or someone else’s why you needed to use that facility.

  158. Pithlit says:

    @thinwhiteduke: Please do something about the trolls, Consumerist. Please. I know I’m not the only one begging you.

  159. baristabrawl says:

    I have to say this: I have not run out of gas since I was 16 and that was because I wanted to see how far I could drive after it was on E. Sadly, it wasn’t very far at all. YAY For a gas tank that doesn’t lie.

    However, why would you even cut it that close? I know that car has a little light that comes on and says, “You’re almost out of gas.” Then it usually gives you about 30 miles, am I right? I have a 1999 Passat and it does that. It dings and makes noise, too.

    I have so many more comments I want to make, but I’m sure that they’re already posted above.

  160. baristabrawl says:

    @bohemian: Um…get a new damn car.

  161. farker says:

    Sounds like pretty sucky service, but then again, how do you RUN OUT OF GAS, unless you’re a total airhead?

    Even if you always waited until the light came on (not a good strategy, I usually fill mine once it’s down to 1/8th of a tank), you should still have a gallon or two left in your tank, plenty to drive to the next refueling station.

    The OP’s girlfriend must have really not been paying attention in order to run out of gas.

  162. bvita says:


    At least with AAA if it happened you could call the 800 line and they’d either fix the problem or send another subcontractor.

  163. Major-General says:

    @humphrmi: Running out of gas like that in my elderly 740 Volvo can and will kill both fuel pumps. Adding more gas afterwards won’t help.

    @LoveNoelG: Sometimes it is the victim’s fault.

    @fordpickup: What if it’s violence from a woman against a man, is that acceptable? Because that seems to be allowable.

    @libbybee: On a brand new car? Even Detroit or the Chinese have better quality than that.

    I am curious though what standard is used to determine how much gas you get for your roadside assistance. For instance, if you’re five miles from the next closest station, is it a half gallon, but three gallons if you’re 50 miles away? Does time of day make a difference, or the car model and it’s EPA efficiency?

  164. mallberg says:

    What she should have done was cycle through turning the key on, waiting a few seconds, and turning the key back off. If you have your interior fans turned off, you can usually hear your fuel pump turn on ~0.5 seconds after you turn the key to ON. Having run out of gas it may take your fuel pump a few tries to get enough fuel system pressurized and enough fuel to the engine.

    BTW, this is one reason even with high gas prices you should fill up your tank. If you tank is full the weight of the gas helps pressurize the fuel system. Consistently running with low amounts of fuel makes your pump work harder and fail quicker.

  165. Dyscord says:

    In the 10 years I have been driving, I’ve only run out of gas once, and I wasn’t far from home. My gas gauge was telling me that I had a bit above empty and it was completely empty, so it is possible to have a faulty gas gauge. But I was on a road close to home and this is the highway. It all depends on where I’m going and how long I’m driving, but I generally don’t take the freeway if I have less than a quarter tank of gas.

    That being said, leaving someone stranded in the middle of the highway is pretty low. I’d take the refund and go with AAA