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Excessive Towing Fees

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Mark Cappel
UpdatedJul 12, 2024
Key Takeaways:
  • Each state has its own laws regarding towed vehicles.
  • Consult with an attorney in your state to learn your rights and options.

My car was towed, and now the towing company wants to sell my car. What can I do?

My car was towed by a wrecker service and there were fees owed on the storage fees. The fees were $500 as told by the owner's wife. When i went to pick up the vehicle they stated they wanted $2,050. I have nothing in writing, but everything stated was verbal and i had my mother with me to verified that conversation. Now they are trying to acquire my vehicle by getting the tilt to my car. i did notify DMV and they told me that they would put a flag on that process until they receive it from the towing company. What can i file to stop them from these actions?

I cannot offer much useful advice because 1) You do not mention which state you live in, which may have laws protecting consumers with towed vehicles, 2) You do not say how much time elapsed between when you were quoted the $500 fee and when you went to retrieve the vehicle, 3) You do not mention why the vehicle was towed, 4) You do not mention the value of the vehicle or if it has a lien on it.

Because I know so little about your situation, I will recommend that you contact your county bar association and learn the name of an attorney in your area who has experience in consumer law. If you cannot afford an attorney, then ask the county bar association for the name of the local agency that assists low- or no-income people with legal issues. Make an appointment with a paralegal or attorney with that agency and bring all of the paperwork relating to the towing and the ownership of the vehicle to the meeting. Listen to your options, and act accordingly.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.



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PPenny, Oct, 2019

My daughters car ended up in a ditch (along with 2 other cars) when they swerved to avoid an accident in Ft.Pierce, Florida late Saturday night...the police called a tow truck to get them out of the ditch & the tow truck operator pulled them out & told my daughter she owed $157.00 which she didn’t have & she couldn’t reach me till early the next morning, so they told her the office was open 24hrs. A day & she could pick her car up the next day at 10a.m.....I had to pay for a cab over the phone (I’m in upstate NY) to pick her up (the tow truck driver left her & her therapy dog at a gas station) & take her at 10a.m. The next morning to get her car (they wouldn’t even let her get clean clothes out of it when they towed it) only to be told by the same man tow truck operator) that she needed to come back on Monday at 10a.m. Because they were then the cab driver charged more to take her to a nearby motel (which I also had to pay for) & now she has to stay there till she can pick up her car (which I’ll probably have to pay another cab driver to take her)....she’s so stressed out & at this point, so is her therapy dog (& she’s an elderly dog now) & is this even legal? And how can anyone treat another human being WITH a therapy dog so harshly?

DDaniel Cohen, Oct, 2019

I am sorry your daughter has had this ordeUnal to deal with. From what you desciribed it is not clear that anything illegal transpired. . The fact that they told her the office is open at a certain day and time and it isn't is unkind behavior for sure. Only a lawyer can give you a solid opinion on whether it crosses the line into illegal. 

If the bill from the tow truck company is outrageous, speak with a lawyer, otherwise the cost of legal help is probably best spent paying them off and putting the whole matter behind you. Thank God that your daughter and her dog were not injured. That is the most important fact of the whole story.

LLinda, Dec, 2010
My vehicle was towed on 12/23/10 in Leakesville, Mississippi after my fiance was arrested by Law enforcement for a suspened license, I attempted to pick up my vehicle that night but was told by the tow company that i could not get the vehicle until the next morning because he was out Christmas shopping, so I had to drive 2 hours back home and return the next morning before 12pm. I was given a price of $280.00 but the tow compnay owner would not give us a receipt and when we asked for one he stated that we would have to pay taxes on the amount if we got a receipt. Is this normal rates/business practice???
BBill, Dec, 2010
I have experienced this behavior among towing companies before. Receipts create a paper trail the IRS and state tax authorities may follow. The towing company is not reporting all of its income to the state and federal governments, thus reducing its taxes. Misreporting income can result in civil and criminal penalties. As for the cost, $280 strikes me as extremely high if the tow was local, but may be reasonable if the towing company had to retrieve the car from a distance.
JJoan, Dec, 2010
My daughters car was towed from her apartment complex in carver county MI. The towing co charged $200.00 plus 25$ a day. The Apartment co receives a kickback from them for using their co. Are these fees just a little over the top.
AAnonymous, Dec, 2010
What little I know about towing would lead me to believe the fees you quoted are outrageous for a rural area. For a major city, the fees would be considered high but somewhat expected.
cchris, Dec, 2010
Wow, I wish... I live in San Diego, CA and my car was towed yesterday. I parked it on a side street overnight so someone could have access to my parking space. The regestration was expired and thus the reason it was towed, and the reason I didn't have it on the street to begin with. Anyhow to get the car out I need to pay the registration current, then pay the tow fees. The tow fees yesterday when I called (and hour after towing it) were $398, storage per day is an extra $50. That is huge. That's a weeks pay after taxes for a lot of people. When I pay that plus the registration I am going to be out around $1000.
JJerry, May, 2013
I am an 20-year, ex-G.M. employee who's factory closed down after a plant closure.
I took my G.M. buyout option money and started a Towing Co. Seeing the charges in towing are OUTRAGEOUS, I thought that I could go out and start a tow company and make GREAT money even at half the fees towing companies charge!
When I got my G.M. Buyout of $140K, the Govmt. taxed (me basically selling my job back to G.M. and severing with all benefits) taxed me at 45% gift tax.
I was stuck with the options of buying two older tow trucks, because I wanted to have an extra truck in case one broke down (yes, I've had my tow truck towed and its was not cheap!!)
I found that towing insurance is RIDICULOUSLY HIGH on my tow truck with me a 50 yr. old with a squeaky-clean driving record 2 thou. a yr. up front the year for minimum coverage meaning I lose my truck if I wreck it!
Then I thought that I would go to XXX popular motor club (we all know their name I'm not going to state their name!) and found that my older tow truck was a few years too old for the prestige of the XXX motor club's requirements even though I found a 20 thousand mile truck that some farmer had (rollback flatbed) for transporting his small farm tractors to tractor shows!
The paint was spotless on it, but its age!!! XXX motor club requirements on insurance are more than double industrial norms.
All the tow companies want to have their XXX logo on their trucks and are paying double the insurance for the prestige of that logo plus the cost of a 100 thou. dollar truck and are driving the cost to the consumer for towing out the roof!!! If you check on the site to XXX motor club you'll find that their original mission statement was to get the cost of towing down within reason, but like most good things it was bought out by a big conglomerate that now is driving the cost of towing out the roof so that every one has to use them!
I have found that your regular insurance companies (State Farm, Geico, Allstate) will give reasonable coverage and will call me (a tow company with nice older trucks)
Oh! By the way, at the time I took the G.M. buyout option, my mother was still a XXX motor club customer service representative for XXX club towing and left them (retired) over the aggravation!