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Where Do Tow Trucks Take Cars?

Where Do Tow Trucks Take Cars?

While you have seen tow trucks in your town or city, you may have had the good fortune to never need a tow due to a breakdown or accident. If so, you probably wonder where tow trucks take cars following an accident or mechanical failure. Rather than be surprised when facing such a situation, here’s what to expect when the tow truck arrives.

Tow trucks take cars to their company’s tow yards to hold the vehicle unless otherwise instructed. In the event of an accident, you can instruct them on which mechanic to take the vehicle for repairs.

Although accidents are a common reason for needing to have your car towed, it’s far from the only one! Let’s take a closer look at what happens when your car ends up at the tow yard.

Where Do Cars Go After an Accident?

After you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, you will of course be feeling high levels of stress. After all, not only will you possibly be suffering various injuries, but your car will be in bad shape as well.

When your car is towed after an accident, it most often is taken to the tow truck company’s tow yard, where it will remain in limbo until you or your insurance company contact them and tell them where to take it next. 

This usually occurs when you are too injured following the accident to give them any instructions and are being treated by medical personnel at the scene.

If your injuries are not serious and you can interact with the tow truck driver, it is best to instruct them to take your car to your mechanic’s shop so that repairs can begin as quickly as possible. 

If you can do this, you can not only get your car fixed much faster but also avoid the hassle of having to get your car towed a second time from the tow yard to a body shop. In addition to this being inconvenient, you will also have to pay extra for towing, storage, and administrative tasks.

Generally, the tow truck driver will prefer to take your car directly to your mechanic’s shop rather than the tow yard. 

Even though they can make extra money by having to tow your car a second time, most tow companies make less doing this than they do by responding to other calls for assistance!

In situations where you may not have a regular mechanic who works on your car, the tow truck driver can usually recommend a nearby mechanic or body shop in which to tow your car. Since they know most of the auto mechanics and body shops in your area, you can usually trust their recommendation.

While it’s preferable for a variety of reasons to have your car towed directly to your mechanic, statistics show that after accidents, about 70% of vehicles actually go to a tow yard first, while only 30% are towed directly to a mechanic.

Can Tow Trucks Just Take Your Car?

While most vehicles are towed due to being involved in an accident, there are other situations that warrant a vehicle being towed. In fact, there are certain situations where a tow truck can indeed just take your car.

For example, if you have illegally parked your vehicle in a handicapped parking space, inside a fire lane, or within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, your locality has the right to summon a tow truck driver to the scene and have your vehicle towed immediately, without giving you any warning.

Also, if your vehicle is parked in a spot where it interferes with an entrance or exit to a property of any kind, tow trucks are authorized to remove your vehicle and take it to a tow yard until it is claimed. 

Your vehicle can also be towed if you have parked in a hotel’s parking lot, but have your vehicle in a space that is designated for a particular room at the hotel.

In other situations related to parking, tow trucks can take your car when you have parked in a lot that is designated only for customers of a certain business, such as a retail store or restaurant. However, your vehicle must have been improperly parked for at least 60 minutes before it can be removed.

When your vehicle is in off-street parking facilities such as parking garages or in lots where you paid to park, it can only be towed after it has been in either location for at least 24 hours. 

If your vehicle does get towed from these areas, you will owe additional fees for extended parking, along with what you will pay for towing and storage fees.

How Long Do Tow Companies Keep Cars?

When you have your car towed to a tow yard, time will be of the essence to get it to a body shop or elsewhere as soon as possible. Otherwise, you will not only be paying additional fees of all sorts but may also lose your car in the process.

For most tow yards, cars towed there are allowed to remain there for no longer than 20 days. After that, they are either moved to an auto repair shop or a scrap metal yard, better known as a junkyard. 

If your car finds its way to a junkyard, you better find out which one and contact them to get it back. Otherwise, your car may get reduced to a pile of metal before you can reclaim it.

As to how much all this will cost you, tow truck companies charge an average of $150 per hour to tow a car. Fortunately, it often takes a tow truck driver no more than one hour to arrive at your location, get your car hooked up to the tow truck, and get it to the tow yard or an auto mechanic’s shop.

But along with the $150 for towing your car, also expect to pay $40-$50 per day for storage at the tow yard, and about $30 for whatever administrative paperwork and other tasks were performed for you and your car.

What Happens if Your Car Gets Towed and You Don’t Pick it Up?

While tow companies will do all they can to make sure you get your vehicle back, some vehicle owners have their vehicles towed and never make any attempt to reclaim their vehicle.

Though it varies from company to company, most tow companies will hang onto vehicles in their tow yard for as long as 90 days before taking legal action. In these cases, this means impounding the vehicle and gaining control of its title. 

To do this, the company will contact the locality and get permission to seize the car and its title, making the tow company the vehicle’s new owner.

Once this process is done, your car will then be destined for the junkyard, where it will be salvaged. Whether or not it has been in an accident, your car will be weighed at the junkyard to determine how much its metal will be worth.

If you think you can get your car back after this, think again. Since you no longer have the title to the car, you would in effect have to repurchase the car from the city or the tow company, so keep this in mind if you are procrastinating about getting your car back from a tow yard.

While a tow truck can be a very welcome sight after your car has been in an accident or has broken down on the side of the road, you will need to stay on top of things to ensure your vehicle gets where you want it to as fast as possible. 

By knowing what to expect and the potential consequences that can follow if you don’t know the rules of the game, you can avoid unnecessary fees and inconveniences related to having your car towed.

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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!