Having your car towed can ruin your day. Imagine you have just finished shopping and you get back to your parking spot only to realize your car is missing. You then realize your vehicle is not anywhere in the parking lot. Believe it or not, this is a common occurrence. Many people wonder what exactly happens when a car gets towed and how to get it back. We've done the research to help you locate your towed vehicle and retrieve it quickly.
If your car is towed, it more than likely is sitting at a vehicle impound lot. Depending on who towed it, this could be a city-run or private lot. In most circumstances, the company is waiting for you to come pay the fee to retrieve your vehicle.
Keep reading below as we answer frequently asked questions and dig deeper into why a car gets towed and how to get it back.
How Do You Know If Your Car Got Towed?
There are many reasons your car may have gotten towed. To know if your vehicle was towed, try calling 411 and talking to the local police department. They will be able to tell you if your car was towed or not. If you are wondering why your vehicle was towed, there could be a few reasons:
1. You Parked Illegally
Your car may have been towed because you parked in a space that was off-limits. Check around your parking spot to see if there are any signs that tell you not to park there.
You may have accidentally parked in a handicapped spot or a space that is designated for people shopping in certain stores. In the future, you will want to watch out for parking spaces with these signs in front of them.
2. You Are Behind On Your Car Payments
Perhaps you are certain you did not park in any illegal or off-limits spaces. Another reason your car may be missing is that it was repossessed. A repossession is different than just being towed away. You are not able to go and get it back immediately. Normally, there is a longer process you have to go through to get it back.
Your vehicle can get repossessed if you are behind on car payments. Typically, you will know if your car is in danger of being repossessed, as you would have received many warnings over the phone and many written warnings in the mail. When you are one or two payments behind on your car payment, you will begin getting these reminders.
If you continue to miss the payments, they will begin to warn you that your car is in danger of being repossessed. A towing company/repossession crew will try to locate you and your vehicle. They are not legally allowed to go into your house or open your garage, but if your vehicle is out in the open, then most of the time they can come onto your property to tow your vehicle.
Because they prefer not to come on your property, they may wait until you go to a grocery store or park in a public parking space. This is where you may think you have gotten towed for parking in an illegal space when in reality your car could have been repossessed. Just be sure to rule out a repossession if you suspect your car may have been towed.
3. Your Car Was Stolen
If you do not have any outstanding violations, missed payments, and you did not park illegally, then there is always a chance your car may have been stolen. If this is the case, you can call 411 to report a stolen vehicle.
How To Get Your Car Back After Being Towed
If you just had your vehicle towed for parking in the wrong spot, you can get your vehicle back in as little as a few hours as long as it is the right time of day.
When you first realize your car has been towed, call 411 to talk to your local police department. They will be able to tell you what company towed your car and how to contact them. Once you have contacted them, find out what it will take to get your car back. Usually, they will charge you a set amount of money, and unfortunately, it is not cheap.
They will provide you with the address, then it is your responsibility to go to the towing company's place of business and pay the fine to get it back.
Every towing company is different, so they may require different items in order to return your vehicle. For example, many city-run impounds will require a valid ID, proof of ownership, proof of insurance, a fee of at least $100, and a legal driver. You will not be able to get your car back without all of these criteria being met.
How Long Can A Towing Company Keep My Car?
The laws are different depending on the place you live, but you should know that there is only a certain amount of time you have before the car will become the legal property of the towing company or the state. This means if your car is towed, you should pay the fee as soon as possible to reclaim your property.
If you do not have the money to get your vehicle back, you may consider borrowing the money or risk losing your car. Your best bet after getting towed is to immediately call the towing company and ask what the deadline is for you to come pick up your car. This way there will be no confusion. It may be as short as 10 to 14 days depending on your situation.
If your car has been repossessed because of unclaimed bills, they are not waiting for you to do anything. They are in the process of selling your vehicle to pay off the loan you owe. In this case, do not wait even one day before calling and trying to work out a deal.
How Much Does It Cost To Get Your Car Back After It's Been Towed?
The final cost to get your car back may be anywhere from $100 to $229 or more depending on where you are located and how big your vehicle is. Of course, the whole process may be more expensive if you have to Uber and the towing company is located far away.
Can You Dispute A Towing Charge?
Yes. If you believe your car has been wrongfully towed, there is a great chance you may be able to get off without paying anything. You may even be paid for damages. Because having the power to tow someone's vehicle can be easily abused, laws regarding towing are very strict.
For example, if your car was towed because you were parked in a tow-away zone, check the actual sign which prohibits parking and take a picture of it. If the sign does not follow all of the regulations required by the state then you can dispute the charges and may even receive some money for your troubles.
Another way you may be able to have the charges dropped is if the towing company isn't following the guidelines they should be. This may include failing to give you a written document of your rights, not having the proper licenses, information, certificates, or having insurance.
There are plenty of other things that could be wrong as well, so if something does not seem right, investigate it. You may end up saving yourself money and uncovering a dishonest business.
All in all, getting your car towed is a major inconvenience that will certainly take up a lot of your time. If your car gets towed, don't panic. Follow the steps we outlined in this article and you will be out of the mess in no time. Knowing your rights and understanding the process can provide tons of relief and make the whole process easier.
Before you go, be sure to check out these other guides:
How Can I Track My Stolen Car? [Inc. 5 Actionable Ways]