Last updated: August 2022

What to Do If Your Car Is Towed

You thought you could get in and out of the store faster than anyone would notice your car, or perhaps you didn't see that "No Parking" sign. Either way, you come back to find that your vehicle has been loaded onto the back of a tow truck—or worse, your car's gone! Whatever the situation, you need to get your vehicle back ASAP, and we've got the info to help you do just that. Here is what to do if your car is towed (or think it was towed).

Where Is Your Car?

If you've ever walked back to your parking spot and found that your car was missing, you're all too familiar with the feeling of panic that washes over you.

"Was my car towed? Where is it? How do I get it back?"

If you've looked everywhere and can't find your car where you KNOW you parked it, take a deep breath. Look for any indications that you were parked illegally. Is there a fire hydrant you didn't see when you parked? Had your car blocked a driveway without you noticing?

Search for signage indicating parking restrictions, such as "Customer Parking Only." Check the small print on these signs to see if they list a towing company's contact info. If so, call that company ASAP to find out if they took your car! If you can't determine which towing service could’ve taken your vehicle, stop into a nearby business, and see if they can give you any useful information.

Was Your Car Towed or Stolen?

Before you assume you’ve been robbed and call the police, think long and hard. Parking violations aren't the only reason cars get towed. Did you miss a few car payments last month? Was your vehicle at risk of being repossessed? Did you have outstanding traffic tickets? If so, your car could’ve been towed for those reasons.

If you've ruled out all the reasons why your car could've been towed, still aren't sure, or you believe it was stolen, it's time to call the police. They can help you find out if your car was towed or stolen. But unless the vehicle’s window is getting smashed in front of you, don't call 911! Use your area’s non-emergency police line instead (311 in most localities). You could also visit your city's towed vehicle locator website if one is available and search for your vehicle by VIN number and/or license plate number.

What to Do When Your Car Is Towed

So, you parked where you shouldn't have. You've determined why your car got towed, and now it's time to figure out how to get it back. First, find out where your vehicle was taken (consult the signage you found, or contact the local police via a non-emergency number to get this information).

Once you know which impound lot has your car, call them to figure out how much you owe for their tow charge. Then, grab your driver's license, insurance card, vehicle registration information, and cash or a cashier's check for the tow charge. (Unfortunately, in most cases, towing comes at the vehicle owner's expense and many impound lots do not accept credit cards.)

“Do I need insurance to get my car back from the towing company?"

You might need proof of insurance to get your car back. That's one reason it's a good idea to proof of car insurance, or cell phone, for times like this (keep a copy inside your vehicle, too). If you don't have car insurance, your car may not be released from the tow lot until you can provide proof that you've got the right type of coverage.

Fortunately, Direct Auto Insurance can help with that—and fast. When you come to Direct for affordable car insurance, you won't have to wait for your insurance cards to come in the mail before you can rescue your car from the lot. We can provide you with instant proof of insurance in person at one of our local offices or online and get you reunited with your trusty vehicle ASAP.

Once you've provided the tow lot with your driver's license, registration info, proof of insurance, tow charge payment, and any other additional documentation, they'll tell you what to do. For example, if you have outstanding traffic tickets or fines, they’ll tell you to pay those before giving you your car!

Don't wait too long to get your car back from the towing company. Many lots charge an hourly or daily storage fee, meaning your towing costs could multiply the longer your vehicle sits in the lot. In some states or cities, impounded cars are taken to auction in just a few weeks—or as soon as the tow charge equals the market value of the car. Yikes!

Don't lose your car for good. As soon as you know it's been towed, start working ASAP to locate your car, get fast car insurance, and take care of any outstanding fines, payments, or other issues.

Get Cheap Car Insurance Fast

If you need auto insurance after your car is towed, Direct Auto has your back. Get Direct and get going! We'll hook you up with instant proof of insurance so you can get back to where you belong, in the driver's seat!

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