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What Causes A Car To Be Towed? 12 Top Reasons

What Causes A Car To Be Towed? 12 Top Reasons

Getting your car towed could be a headache, or it might be a welcome occurrence. It all depends on why it’s happening. You could’ve gotten stuck in a ditch.

On the other hand, you might’ve parked somewhere you shouldn’t. Here are a few of the top reasons you might get your car towed.

Most Common Reasons Your Car Is Towed

Sometimes, your car might need to be towed because of a mechanical issue. Other times, you might’ve done something wrong. Either way, you should know the most common reasons for towing a car!

1. Your Alternator Died

Your alternator supplies power to your battery. Without one, your battery wouldn’t last for long at all. If you’ve been driving with a bad alternator, it won’t take long to notice.

All your electronics will stop working. Eventually, even your power steering will fail. Once the battery totally dies, your car won’t move at all.

At that point, you’re stuck on the side of the road. The only thing you can do is call a tow truck.

Pay attention to your dashboard. If the alternator dies, you’ll probably notice a strange symbol. It looks like a battery icon with a slash through it.

That means your battery isn’t receiving a charge. If you notice that, drive to the nearest repair shop. You’ve got a bad alternator on your hands. Otherwise, you’ll need to call a tow truck soon.

2. You Ran Out of Fuel

Another common reason people need a tow truck is that they’ve run out of fuel.

Typically, you’ll notice the engine starts making strange sounds. Your car may even begin to jerk a lot.

Those are signs you’re running low on gas. Stop at the next gas station to fill up!

Once you’re totally out, your car is going to be stuck. Then, you’ll have to call a tow truck to take you anywhere.

3. The Engine Overheats

Perhaps, you’ve forgotten to refill the coolant in your car. If that happens, you’ll notice the temperature gauge starts to shoot up. Running your engine while it’s hot could damage it.

If you haven’t got any coolant with you, you’ll need a tow. Don’t drive until you’ve had the vehicle inspected. Or, you could risk cracking the engine block. Calling a tow truck would be the simplest solution.

Sometimes, you might have enough coolant. However, your filters are clogged. In that case, your coolant can’t get where it needs to go.

The end results are just the same. You’ll overheat the engine if you try to drive anywhere.

4. You Parked on a Private Street

Maybe, you’ve left the car parked on the wrong street. Most of the time, you can park on a residential street without any problems.

However, certain streets won’t let you stay on them for more than a few hours!

Pay attention to the street signs. Public streets tend to have green signs. Another color would signify that it’s a private street. Usually, parking on a private street will end up with you being towed.

5. You Left Your Car at an Apartment Complex

You might’ve stayed overnight at a friend’s place. When that happens, you might wake up to an absent parking lot.

If your car is gone, call the front office. They’ll tell you whether it’s been towed. And, they can let you know where to pick it up if it has.

Sometimes, you might need to park in a particular spot. Look around for guest parking whenever you’re visiting anyone. That way, you won’t have to panic in the morning.

6. You’ve Got a Flat Tire

You’ve probably seen someone on the side of the road because their tires have gone flat.

Driving on a flat tire isn’t safe, and it could damage your rim. Then, you’d have to replace a lot more than just a tire. Replacing the rim would double or triple your repair costs, too.

If you’ve got a flat tire, switch to a donut. Some cars don’t have a donut in the trunk, though. If that’s the case, you’d better wait for a tow truck.

It’ll cost less than a rim replacement!

7. Your Rotors Have Gone Bad

Another reason you might need a tow truck would be bad rotors. You should replace your brake pads every 60,000 miles. Otherwise, you might bend the rotors.

Once they’re bent, you’ll hear strange grinding sounds coming from the wheels. That’s because the rotors are wobbling every time the wheels rotate. Driving on them could build up a lot of heat. Then, you might melt through the tires.

Call a tow truck instead of driving on bad rotors. It’s a lot safer, and it’s a lot less expensive too.

8. Your Serpentine Belt Snapped

Your alternator spins the serpentine belt to generate electricity for your battery.

Even with a good alternator, your battery won’t charge without a serpentine belt. Every once in a while, the serpentine belt might break. Then, you’ll need to replace it.

Otherwise, you’ll have the same symptoms you’d have from a bad alternator. Call a tow truck to get them to take you to the nearest repair shop. Ask them for help replacing the serpentine belt so you can get back on the road.

9. You’re Low on Oil

Replace your oil every 7,000 miles. If you don’t, you’ll run out of oil while you’re driving. Driving on low oil could cause a lot of friction inside of the engine.

That’s going to cause a lot of heat to generate. Then, you could blow up the engine block again. Using synthetic oil could help to prevent this from happening.

Synthetic tends to last a lot longer than traditional oil. Or, you could carry around some oil in the trunk.

Then, if you notice you’re running low, you could top off the engine. Calling a tow truck would be your only other option.

10. Your Power Steering Stopped Working

One of the bushings in your steering wheel might’ve come loose. Then, you won’t be able to steer safely. Don’t try driving with a bad steering system.

Turning a car without power steering can be quite hazardous. Instead, get a tow truck to take you somewhere you can repair it.

11. You Forgot to Pay for Parking

Do you work near a major city?

Most of the time, you’ve got to feed the parking meter. Once it runs out, you’ve got to refill it!

Letting your car sit there might end up with it getting towed. At best, you’ll find a parking ticket on the windshield when you get back.

12. Your Tags Are Expired

Most of the time, you’ll just get a ticket for having an expired tag. But, some police might call a tow truck on you. 

Remember to renew your tag on your birthday! They always expire during your birth month. 

Some states let you renew them for two years at a time, too. So, you might want to get that done.

Either way, don’t let expired tags be the reason that your car gets towed!

What’s the Reason for a Tow Truck

Not all tow truck calls are bad. Sometimes, they’re helping to prevent damage to your car’s components.

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Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!