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What to Do If Your Car Gets Towed

Written By Timothy Sexton

What to Do If Your Car Gets Towed

Coming back to where you parked your car only to find it isn't there anymore typically creates feelings of panic and anxiety, even when you discover the vehicle wasn't stolen, but merely towed away. If you find your car has been towed it is probably due to your having parked it for more than the allotted time, or in a restricted area such as a private parking garage. In some cases you will not find signs that point to either of these causes, but around this point you will probably remember that you have accumulated a few unpaid tickets. The first step in dealing with the question of what to do if your car gets towed is calming down. Depending on the situation, a car no longer there can range from a big headache to a nightmare, but panic won't make things any easier.

The first thing to do is call either the police or, if your city has one, a dedicated phone line used specifically for this purpose. Many larger cities often have a hotline that uses words like CAR and TOW in their numbers. If you don't have this option, then simply call the police, but DO NOT call 911 unless it truly is an emergency situation involving life and death. If you do a little local investigating, you may also find that the police have instituted a texting option to locate your vehicle after it has been towed. You may also be able to use your cell phone to get onto the internet and locate the towing companies in your town and call them directly. Many towns also have a web site that will quickly answer all your questions, but that may do you little good under the circumstances. The best bet is simply to call the nearest police station, however. In order to get the information you desire, you'll need to know your driver license number, the make and model of the vehicle, and the name under which it was registered. Only by providing this kind of information will you finally get the name of the company that towed your car. Calling the police is also important in the process of finding out exactly why your car was towed. If the reason does have to do with outstanding unpaid tickets, you'll need to take care of this expense before you even bother with the expense of getting you car back from the impound lot. Once you've got the reason for the tow and the location of the towed vehicle, you'll need to get in touch with someone to come pick you up.

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Try to waste no time in getting yourself to the impound lot, but first find out their hours of operation. Not all impound lots are open all day long; many may not allow you to get your car out until after noon. However, most cities have a time limit on how long they will allow a vehicle to remain unclaimed before they legally label it as abandoned. Even if this is the case, there are steps you can take to reclaim it, but the hassle is certainly not worth it. If at all possible, try to reclaim your towed car within twenty-four hours of when you learned it was impounded. If you learned that the reason for the towing was related to unpaid tickets, you will need to take care of those at the police station first. Once you make it to the towing impound, the situation isn't going to be anything even remotely close to pleasant. You will probably have to wait in line, depending upon the size of your community. Even worse, of course, is the expense. The cost of retrieving a towed car varies widely and adds up quickly. You will have to pay a towing fee, of course, and that can range anywhere from $50 to over $200. Depending on how long you've let the car sit, you'll probably also have to add in the charges of storage and this can rise upwards of $50 per day, though in many cases there is no charge within the first twenty-four hours. Typically, towing fees can be paid in cash, check or with a credit card though there may be some companies that refuse to accept debit cards. And finally, if you arrive at the impound lot and discover your car has been damaged during the tow; you may or may not be allowed to file a claim for damage. In most cases, drivers whose cars were damaged during the towing process will have to file a claim with their insurance company.

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