At an average whack of $133 per year according to new study.

Australian motorists are wasting their money on roadside assistance, with almost a quarter of drivers preferring to call a friend or family member if their car breaks down.

According to a report from finder.com.au, three million Australians pay for roadside assistance, at an average annual cost of $133.

Of the survey's 1430 respondents, 23 per cent said they'd call their partner, a friend or family member than roadside assistance in the event of a breakdown, rendering the service redundant in almost a quarter of breakdown cases. That adds up to almost $400 million in money wasted on roadside assist every year.

“Phoning a mate is a habit that’s deeply embedded into Australian culture and this research just goes to show that a car breaking down is no exemption," said Bessie Hassan, finder's car insurance expert.

"However many Australians seem to be avoiding roadside assistance as their first point of contact, perhaps due to misconceptions about cost or a reluctance to endure potential waiting times," she said.

"What many people don’t realise is that if you’re already paying for roadside assistance, calling them to jump-start or fix your car is usually completely free."

After partners, family and friends, people said they'd call their insurance company, attempt to fix the problem themselves or phone a tow truck in the event of a breakdown. Aside from calling roadside assist, the least popular option was asking a stranger for help.

Women were more likely to lean on their partner for assistance, with 22 per cent saying they'd call their spouse, up on just 9.0 per cent of men. Five per cent of men said they'd tackle the problem themselves, compared with just 1.0 per cent of women.

Not all roadside support is free. If you're stuck on the side of the road with an empty fuel tank, for example, roadside assistance will often charge for the petrol required to get you going again. It's the same story with a flat battery.

Although lots of people pay for roadside assistance through providers like Allianz or the RACV, the majority of car manufacturers offer it free in new cars during their warranty period.

Of the 'big brands' in Australia, only Toyota, Suzuki and Mazda charge extra for round-the-clock assistance in a breakdown.

While most support services extend the length of the warranty period – between three and seven years, depending on the brand – others only offer 12 free months of coverage after purchase, which is then extended if customers service their car with an authorised dealership.

Among those who charge extra for roadside assist, Mazda is the cheapest, asking for $68.10 per year for 'standard' assistance and $83.50 per annum for 'premium' roadside assist.

Along with fuel, tyre, lost or locked-in key and towing support, the more expensive tier well help owners with a taxi, accomodation and a rental vehicle if they're stranded in the middle of nowhere. Toyota will charge you $78 per year for the service.