Image credit: Graham Fritz

Volvo just announced that it will offer free roadside towing for all of its cars in the U.S. The service is called “Tow for Life,” and yes, it will cover rusted out shitboxes. But before you go surfing Craigslist for a Volvo beater, just know that this program is not even close to as good as it sounds.

“No matter what vintage Volvo you may drive, roadside towing is now available free of charge,” begins Volvo Car USA’s press release for its new Tow for Life program. While at first glance, it may seem like a great concept and a solid reason to go out and buy a junker, the inevitable break-down of which will no longer cause you too much financial pain, a closer look reveals that Tow for Life isn’t as cool as it sounds. From the press release:

“Tow for Life ensures that in the event of a breakdown, help is on hand no matter the age of the vehicle,” said Scott Doering, Head of Customer Service for Volvo Car USA, “It’s a commitment to all our customers that cars will be taken to experts who use genuine Volvo parts and repair methods. This will get the customer back on the road faster and provide assurance that the repair was done right.”

The text states that the cars will be taken to a Volvo retailer, so I called up Volvo to see how firm of a rule that was and if there are any other limitations.

Based on my conversation with a company representative, I found that, if, for example, you’re driving a $600 Volvo S70 shitbox like Graham’s above or an old 740 like Kendra’s below (both Graham and Kendra participated in the Detroit Gambler 500), and your vehicle breaks down, you can ring up Volvo Customer Care at 1 (800) 550-5658 and get a free tow. However, not only must that tow be to a Volvo retailer or certified body shop, but you must get your car serviced at that location. If you don’t, you have to pay for the tow.

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Other program limitations include a 25 mile max tow distance, which is fine if you live in a city, but laughable if you’re from the boonies.

Image: Kendra Young

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But by all means, go out and buy a junky Volvo—many of them are great machines. Just know that if you want this “free” Volvo tow, you’re going to have to pay to have your car serviced by Volvo, and something tells me the prices will defeat the whole purpose of a cheap beater.

Of course, it isn’t a huge surprise that Volvo will gladly tow your car so you can pay them for repairs—after all, Volvo would make no money towing your car to your house. Still, these limitations are important to keep in mind, since other outlets seem to think this Tow for Life thing means now’s the time to snatch up $1,000 Volvo 240 beaters.

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It’s not; the time to snatch up $1,000 Volvo 240 beaters is always.