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CostHelper > Personal Finance  > Legal > Recovering a Towed Vehicle

Recovering a Towed Vehicle Cost

How Much Does Recovering a Towed Vehicle Cost?

average costTowed from Public Property: $100-$1,000+high costTowed from Private Property: $100-2,000+
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State and local laws typically give specific public agencies the authority to tow a vehicle on public property for matters of public interest, including parking violations or if the driver does not have a valid license or proof of insurance, or has been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Private property owners typically have a legal right to remove unauthorized vehicles from the property, with the vehicle owner responsible for the towing costs.

Typical costs:

  • Recovering a vehicle towed by a public agency can cost $100-$1,000 or more depending on the reason the vehicle was towed; the type, size and condition of the vehicle; how long it is stored before it is claimed; and any fees or outstanding fines. Many jurisdictions charge an impound/vehicle release fee of $90-$250 or more. Towing charges can be $100-$800 or more; these are paid to the private tow company, but local laws may set the allowable maximum. If the vehicle is disabled, there may be a flatbed or dolly fee of $40-$150 or more. Storage fees can be $10-$100 a day, depending on local regulations. If the driver was driving without a valid license or while under the influence, the vehicle might not be released for 30 days.
  • For example, in Hawaii[1] the maximum tow fee is $65 or $75 with a dolly, plus $7.50 per mile towed; storage is $25 a day for seven days and $20 per day after that. Sacramento, CA[2] , has a $130 vehicle-release fee plus a maximum $180 tow fee and $50 a day storage. Chicago[3] allows a $150 tow fee for a passenger vehicle with storage at $10 a day for first five days and $35 a day after that.
  • Auto insurance may pay recovery costs if the vehicle was involved in a collision or stolen and then recovered. In addition, some jurisdictions will waive or discount fees for towing and storage of recovered stolen vehicles. Insurance does not typically cover towing costs for parking violations or other infractions.
  • Recovering a vehicle that was towed from private property can cost $100-$2,000 or more. Local laws may set a maximum allowable towing fee. For tows from private property Chapel Hill, NC[4] , allows a maximum fee of $125, or $50 if the vehicle is released to the owner after hook-up but before it is towed away; storage is free for 24 hours and $20 a day after that. Arlington, VA[5] , allows private-property towing charges of $125 for a standard-size vehicle, $250 for vehicles rated 7,501-10,001 pounds and $500 for vehicles over 10,001 pounds; storage is free for 24 hours and $50 a day after that. A Seattle resident[6] received a bill of $1,300 for a car with expired registration that was towed from a large apartment complex.
Related articles: Removing a Car Boot, Attorney Fees, Car Rental

What should be included:
  • If a vehicle is missing from a public area and may have been towed, contact the local police department for information. If the vehicle was towed from private property, the tow company phone number and location should be provided on signs in the parking lot or mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle, depending on local regulations.
  • When making inquiries about a towed vehicle, know the license plate number, year, make and color of the vehicle, and the possible tow date; it can be helpful to know the vehicle's VIN number.
  • Recovering a towed vehicle typically requires the registered owner or authorized representative to present a valid ID and proof of ownership (typically a valid registration form), plus proof that all outstanding tickets, fines, fees and registration have been paid and all other requirements have been satisfied.
  • When a vehicle has been towed, the owner's rights and responsibilities may vary by state, and even by city or county. Contact local consumer protection agencies[7] for assistance.
Additional costs:
  • If the vehicle was immobilized with a boot device before being towed, in addition to towing and storage fees there may be a boot-removal fee of $40-$400 or more, plus paying any outstanding parking fines.
  • Typically, if a towed vehicle is not claimed by its owner within a specific length of time, it may be destroyed or sold at auction. If the money received is not enough to cover all costs related to towing, storage and auction, the last known registered owner is held responsible for the unpaid debt.
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What People Are Paying - Recent Comments
Amount: $364.00
Posted by: a user in san diego, CA.Posted: June 4th, 2017 10:06AM
Towed By: Star TowingLocation: San Diego
Reason Towed: parked a little too long in a spot
McDonald's parking lot. Like another couple who also parked there, we all went window shopping, and didn't get back before the 2 hour window.
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Roommate's License Suspended- Car Impounded
Amount: $275.00
Posted by: Cera Ward in Vallejo, CA.Posted: April 11th, 2017 07:04AM
Towed By: Palace GarageLocation: San Leandro, CA
Reason Towed: Expired License
My roommate (who is on the car insurance) got pulled over and found out her license was still suspended. I couldn't be reached right away (though we're unsure if they would have allowed me to come get the car). I had to go to the CHP office to get a release form, and was able to pick the car up from the lot the same day. My car was stored for less than 5 hours. The cost to get the car out of impound was $275.
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car towed from public place
Amount: $10,000.00
Posted by: mazda3017 in senatobia, MS.Posted: April 8th, 2017 04:04AM
Reason Towed: for driving on suspend linceses
if the car is imobile with 4 flats an willbe held up to 30 days or longer but i was jailed for 18 days whats the max they can charge me...
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Vistor Parking
Amount: $150.00
Posted by: Upset Mom in Indianapolis, IN.Posted: April 4th, 2017 08:04AM
Reason Towed: Not in vistor parking
My daughter's car was towed from Country Lake Apartments in Indianapolis IN. I was told she was not in vistors parking. For the past 9 years the location where she was parked has been vistor parking. Well, the apartments have new management and I guess the parking changed with no notice to the residents. My daughter is graduating in May and now we have to pay an unnecessary $150 due to the apartments negligence to inform the tenants of changes and are not willing to compensate, when clearly the reason for towing was there fault. There were also other vechiles parked where she was. A flatbed was used for a compact car when there was a truck there also. The tow is $125 and an additional $25 if you don't have proof of insurance. Is it even legal for tow companies to charge for proof of insurance?
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Everett, WA Snohomish County
Amount: $500.00
Posted by: April_rainz in Everett, WA.Posted: April 1st, 2017 11:04PM
Reason Towed: Parked in fire lane at apartments
Nearest street parking is .5 miles away, but home owners are retaliating . Park and ride is .75 away, but high break in rates. Mary's towing is a rip off! Mirabella Apartments have terrible parking.
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Car Sold Then Gets Towed Under My Name
Amount: $1,800.00
Posted by: Fvck The System! in Sacramento, CA.Posted: January 26th, 2017 01:01AM
Reason Towed: Sold & Towed In My Name
1996 Honda Accord EX I had sold to a guy on Craigslist. He got the car towed some how and never registered the car in his name even though we both signed off the title and I gave it to him. I am still registered owner and fees are now up to $1700 im 18 years old with minmum wage job. Completly fvcked over by a complete idiot. Fvckkckck
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Recovered Stolen Vehicle - San Diego Sheriff
Amount: $295.00
Posted by: RLL in Poway, CA.Posted: January 19th, 2017 11:01AM
Towed By: Tow ProsLocation: 13119 Bowren Rd, Poway
Reason Towed: Recovered Stolen Vehicle
San Diego Sheriff department allows 20 minutes for the owner of a recovered stolen vehicle to reclaim the car before it is impounded. A tow fee of $185 , a Sheriff NIP of $70 and a $40 storage cost was imposed for a whopping $295. What is most remarkable about this fee is that NIP stands for NEGLIGENT IMPOUND, which goes directly back to either the Sheriff or the city itself. Now, as a victim of a crime in this jurisdiction, I'm having real difficulty reconciling the world NEGLIGENT against my experience. This is clearly misplaced culpability, and a very disappointing end to an already pretty miserable experience.
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Extreme Towing Charge Scam
Amount: $650.00
Posted by: [email protected] in Chalfont, PA.Posted: January 7th, 2017 08:01PM
Towed By: Kirk Auto BodyLocation: Perkasie, PA
Reason Towed: Following Accident
This towing company picked up my son's car after he slid into a railroad tie fence 300 feet from our house, at 6:00 PM the Friday before New Year's weekend. The car was loaded onto a flatbed, towed to their facility, and locked up for four days, during which I was unable to contact the company to get my car back. They charged $650 and said they were giving me a break to bring it back to my house.
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Non consent impound
Amount: $760.00
Posted by: Megan Chase in Ogden, UT.Posted: December 31st, 2016 10:12AM
Reason Towed: No proof of insurance
Sons car was impounded without the knowledge of it being driven and was never contacted by any law agency to advise him of the situation and offer him a way to have it towed himself by his own commercial tow truck or to provide his insurance in person. The officer had it a no consent to tow by registered owner which is against the law in Utah. The registered owner must be present or contacted and must verify consent to tow. Law enforcement in UTAH NEED TO READ THEIR CODES AND STATE STATUTES AS WELL AS THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AND STOP BULLYING PEOPLE. WE ARE TRAVELERS NOT DRIVERS THEREFORE LEGALLY THROUGH OUR FOUNDING FATHERS IT IS OUR RIGHT TO TRAVEL WITHOUT HAVING TO DISCLOSE ANY OF OUR INFOTMATION. 24 YEAR OLD ON HIS BIRTHDAY HAD TO PAY 760.00 BY PAWNING HIS CHRISTMAS GIFTS TO RETRIEVE HIS VEHICLE. ALL BECAUSE OF LAW ENFORCEMENTS MIS CONDUCT AND IGORANCE.
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Amount: $1,000.00
Posted by: Candace J Skvorchuk in Antelope, CA.Posted: November 21st, 2016 03:11PM
Towed By: CHPLocation: Sacramento
Reason Towed: None
Officer called me and told me it had to be towed when i asked if i could retreive my vehicle. Minding it was 1.5 miles away from stolen area. Only thing stolen from car was speakers in perfect drivable order
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extortion! !!!!
Amount: $4,500.00
Posted by: The extrorted in Merrimack, NH.Posted: November 3rd, 2016 01:11AM
Reason Towed: lapsed registration renewal
04 ford escape, towed by a AAA authorized/affiliated company but the tow company wouldn't let me use my AAA for payment, they said "cash only" even though AAA said they would be okay providing compensation to the tow company. after a 3 day weekend and a week of back and forth I conceded and asked for a cash total. $900 of which I could not produce. so they kept and sold my $4,500 vehicle.
so I paid 4500 for a tow that at maximum should have cost me 200 cash or nothing if they would have taken my AAA.
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No visitors parking
Amount: $180.00
Posted by: Sharita in Waukegan, IN.Posted: October 30th, 2016 08:10AM
Reason Towed: No sticker
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Outrageous Impound Fees
Amount: $1,000.00
Posted by: Outrageously Ripped Off in Torrance, CA.Posted: October 29th, 2016 10:10AM
Towed By: Torrance Towing CompanyLocation: Torrance, CA
Reason Towed: Street
It's been a few years when my old car was towed, but I had to pay $1,000 plus taxes & other fees. They charged me $250 per day for storage. I had to go get a loan becuz I didn't have the money, plus I had to get my license tags paid plus get a court paper saying it's paid. I was devastated and late on my rent. I am a single parent with two kids and my job only paid $8 hour. I don't think its fair that they charge you for days their business is closed and then charge you to open it up on the weekends. That is outrageous gauging fees. Not fair and no mercy for the poor people.
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Rip Off
Amount: $310.00
Posted by: Onix in Detroit, MI.Posted: October 18th, 2016 10:10AM
Reason Towed: Car stolen
The car was stolen in the morning found during the day and left over night. Not to mention that the car was found less than a mile away from the tow company. And since the car is disabled I have to pay another tow fee to get it to shop. And to add insult to injury wouldn't even help me find the even guy though I had a good way to prove it, FUCK the system
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Amount: $352.00
Posted by: Robert A gaitan in Riverview, FL.Posted: October 18th, 2016 07:10AM
Reason Towed: Repossession
How much will my fees be and how long will they hold my car
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Impoundment fees
Amount: $1,200.00
Posted by: Goddess Williams in Chicago, IL.Posted: September 26th, 2016 01:09PM
Reason Towed: Driving on suspended license
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Tim's Towing & Recovery LLC
Amount: $1,262.36
Posted by: Kearsten in OTTSVILLE, PA.Posted: September 6th, 2016 03:09AM
Reason Towed: Starter and inspection
During towing the wind shield broke and 4 dents from the back cover flying up and hitting the windshield and hood. And they told me to get an estimate and then only would pay half of the estimate because they thought I was not going to fix the truck.i really needed fixed because I was putting it up for sale. I'm a single mother of 3 so I need a more realistic kind of transportation. They totally screwed me over. Now I'm having a hard time selling the truck.
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Towed need help
Amount: $200.00
Posted by: Devin M Oakley in Honea path, SC.Posted: August 10th, 2016 02:08PM
Reason Towed: Noinsurance
All i have is my car
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Dallas tow charges
Amount: $165.00
Posted by: chewie in Dallas, TX.Posted: September 2nd, 2015 04:09PM
Reason Towed: Various
My own apartment complex has some terrible management policies. There are 3 of us living here, but they only allow 2 vehicles to have resident stickers. So I use the visitor parking, which they chose to eliminate with no warning and earned me 2 tows in 3 days (second was refunded by management) at $165 a pop. Then I was towed for expired inspection recently for 210, but had to leave in there for 3 extra days at the max state-allowed storage fee of $20 plus tax to earn the money. The state max for non-consent is $250. Remember, if you catch them before your car is fully hooked up, they have to let it go for free. Tips for life
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Ripoff amount paid
Amount: $430.00
Posted by: Elvisboy in San bernagetto, CA.Posted: August 15th, 2015 08:08AM
Reason Towed: no sticker
lived here for 2 years and never given a sticker by management. this type of extortion is wrong.
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Car towed from private lot
Amount: $280.00
Posted by: Dewdrops in Detroit, MI.Posted: April 20th, 2015 05:04PM
Reason Towed: Parked in private church parking lot
In a huge traffic jam on downtown Detroit, Me and 20 other cars were waived into a church parking lot by scammer. Paid $20 to park. Vehemently I came back 2.5 hrs later, car had been towed. CASH ONLY!!! No debit or credit cards later!!
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Booma in sacramento
Amount: $350.00
Posted by: Davis Tow Inc in sacramento, CA.Posted: December 24th, 2014 09:12AM
Towed By: Davis Tow IncLocation: Sacramento
Reason Towed: Non customer - no event parkign
You forgot to mention that you were towed for parking on someones private private property because you wanted to skip out on the 15$ parking at sleep train arena. Where do you get off whining about your bad decisions?
Its 200$ an hour for the tow with a 1 hour min.
Its 50$ for storage as soon as it hits the impound lot for the first 24 hours and then 50$ for every 24 hours after that.
You elected to pick you vehicle up outside of business hours (8-5) monday to friday.
This incurs a gate fee of half the tow rate. in this case - $100
There were many many signs warning you of what would happen if you parked and went over to the arena...
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Rip Off
Amount: $350.00
Posted by: Booma in Sacramento, CA.Posted: December 1st, 2014 09:12PM
Towed By: Davis TowingLocation: Rio Linda Ca
Reason Towed: Private property
I parked in a private property parking lot after business hours. I did not see the posted signs.A total scam. A taxi shows up and offers to take you to where your car is stored for $ 26.00. Office was closed when we arrived.Finally contacted towing company and they showed up one hour later. $350.chg is criminal.
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