5 Things to do When Your Car Gets Towed in California

car being towed

Has your car been towed? What are the next steps? In addition to consulting your auto insurance agent, there are a few key steps to take — things to do or not to do — to get your vehicle back as soon as possible.  

Maybe it happens after being stopped by a police officer. Or while awaiting roadside assistance. Or you return to a parking space to find that it’s happened. Whatever the cause or however it played out, your car’s been towed. Now what? 

Here are the 5 first steps to consider when your car is towed. 

1. Find Out Why Your Car was Towed 

This is an easy step if your car gets towed as the result of a traffic stop. The police officer should tell you immediately why they’re taking this action. It might be because you were driving with a license under suspension. Or driving while under the influence. You can even get your vehicle impounded, according to California law, if you don’t have at least liability auto insurance. 

If you simply leave your car in a parking space and return to find it gone, you might have to do a little detective work. First, check for warning signs. See any no-parking signs you might have missed or ignored? How about an ‘X’ or other sign painted on the parking space pavement? 

If you still can’t explain the towing action, call the non-emergency number of your local police. They should be able to tell you whether and where your car was towed or direct you to another source of information. 

If you still have no answers, it might be time to report your car as having been stolen. 

Now Find Out Where It Is 

More detective work. You’ll often find a sign detailing where you can find your car if it’s impounded. It could be a phone number or address — or both. If a police officer tows your vehicle, be sure to ask where they’re taking it and what it will take to get it back. 

2. Stay Cool If Your Car is Towed 

This is very important. If you’re angry at the thought of what it will cost you to get your car released from an impound lot, think of the added legal and financial liability for attacking a cop or tow truck driver. Tack on court costs, penalties, and the hefty cost of hiring a lawyer to keep you out of jail. 

Besides, it’s hard to think straight when your emotions get involved. Stay cool and ready to confront whatever you’re up against peacefully. 

3. Contact the Impound Lot and Ask About Documentation 

Place a call and calmly ask what it will take to get your vehicle released. You might need such documents as your car title, driver’s license, and proof of auto insurance. That’s in addition to the cost of getting the release. How must the release fee be paid? Does the lot take checks or credit cards? Cash only? You don’t want it to be a wasted trip. 

If your vehicle was towed because you have a license suspension, get a friend with a valid license to serve as the driver. Your car won’t otherwise be released to you. Similarly, if your license is taken and you’ll have to get an SR-22 for restored driving privileges after a DUI, get a driver with a clean record to drive. 

car on tow truck

4. Contest the Tow (if you honestly have a case) 

You definitely want to fight the charges. But is that because you have a good case, or you’re angry? Remember our “stay cool” advice? Do nothing until the initial state of anger has passed. 

If you still think you’re in the right, go back to where you parked the car and photograph any evidence that might help you out. For instance, is the no-parking sign hidden behind overgrown vegetation? Is the no-parking indication painted on the pavement mostly faded away? 

Only count as proof evidence that can be photographed and clearly shown in a court of law. Then go ahead and contest the tow. But don’t waste your time and additional court charges if you have no real proof but have stayed angry. 

5. Document Damage During the Tow, If Any 

Once you have access to your automobile in the impound lot, the first thing you should do is inspect it thoroughly. Look for damage caused by the tow or where and how it was impounded. Photograph everything you see. Does it look like the interior has been disturbed? Are items missing? Snap several more shots. 

It will be difficult to bring charges against an impound lot, but you might be able to file a claim on your auto insurance policy. Which brings us to our final point. 

6. Contact Your Auto Insurance Agent 

There are lots of reasons to do this. We just covered one of them. Your auto insurance broker can tell you if any missing items or damage to the body of your car by the towing or impounding is covered. 

If the police stop you, a call to your auto insurance agent should be among the first you make. You might have to transition to SR-22 coverage to retain your driving privileges after a DUI

And finally, you definitely need to discuss auto insurance if you don’t have coverage. It’s entirely possible that you won’t be able to get your vehicle out of the impound lot without a valid policy. Your auto insurance agent will be able to help you determine the coverage you need and find a policy at the most affordable rates. 

The sight of an empty parking space where you last left your vehicle is unsettling. So is a quick glimpse of your car disappearing from view behind a tow truck. But your situation can be dealt with if you stay cool and logical. 

Find Low-Cost Auto Insurance in California Today 

Call Cost-U-Less at (800) 390-4071 for affordable car insurance. Or get a quick online quote for car insurance. We also invite you to find a Cost-U-Less location near you and talk to an independent insurance agent at your convenience.