Having your vehicle towed is never a pleasant experience, whether you call a tow truck service because your car needs service or it's towed unexpectedly for being in a no parking zone or having unpaid tickets. Knowing what to expect to get your vehicle back after an unplanned tow and how to prepare your vehicle when you call a company yourself can save you a lot of unneeded stress.
What to Do If Your Car Is Towed Unexpectedly
- Find out where your vehicle is. If you were parked in a public parking lot or on private business property, there will most likely be signs with the towing company's information so you can call and find out where your car was taken. If not, you can ask the nearest establishment if they know what towing company services the area, or call 411 or the local police department to ask what tow yard or impound lot has your vehicle.
- Have your documentation ready. Most towing companies will require you to show your driver's license, proof of insurance, and current vehicle registration to get your car back in your possession. You may be able to show electronic proof of insurance, such as an ID card on your phone through your insurance company's app, unless you were towed in Connecticut, New Mexico, or Washington, D.C. as these areas don't allow electronic proof of insurance as of May 2017.
- Pay to get your car out as soon as you can. Impound and storage fees can rack up quickly, and some states allow tow yards to begin the process for selling unclaimed vehicles in as little as 72 hours. If you believe your vehicle was towed illegally, take pictures of the scene and still pay to get your car back as soon as you can. You can deal with the process for fighting the towing incident and getting your money back after you have your car.
What to Do When You Call for a Tow
- Get the towing company's information. Make sure you have the tow truck company's address, phone number and business license number before you allow the driver to take your car. Ensure any paperwork also has the address of the mechanic shop or service location your vehicle is going to and that the fee you're paying is clearly stated on your paperwork.
- Have your insurance information or AAA information ready. Gather your insurance documentation, AAA membership information, or any other information from any company who provides you with towing coverage before the driver gets to you if at all possible. It's much easier to deal with the coverage up front than to get reimbursed later.
- Take pictures of your vehicle before it gets towed. Get documentation of your car's present state so you'll know if there's any additional damage when you pick your car up from the service location.
- Remove your valuables. Remove anything you can from your car before it gets towed. Don't forget to check your glove box, center console, and trunk for anything you might want or need, or anything you're uncomfortable with leaving when your vehicle isn't in your possession.