There is probably nothing worse than walking to your car outside in the parking lot, only to find that it is missing. The first thought on your mind is theft. Your car has been stolen, so you start panicking immediately.
In 2020, there were 873,080 reports of stolen cars. The rate of auto theft is increasing, with a 9.2% higher number of thefts reported compared to 2019.
While it is possible that a missing car means theft, this is not the only reason to consider. Take a moment to think about additional factors:
- Have you missed a payment on your car recently?
- Do you have traffic fines that you didn’t pay?
- Did you park in a restricted zone?
- Did you park too close to a fire hydrant?
In these scenarios, there is a possibility that your car was towed away and not stolen. Now, the question is – how do you get your car back, and what should you do?
Finding Out Where Your Car Was Towed To
When you determine your car was towed, it should bring about some relief compared to having it stolen. Still, you now need to figure out how you can get your car back.
When a car is towed, regardless of the reason for the towing, it is taken to an impound. In many cases, the car is towed to the closest impound in the area, so this is a good place to start.
You will start by finding out where your car was taken to. This means you will have to make a few phone calls to pin down the location of the car.
Start with the impounds closest to the area where your car was parked. Make sure you have your vehicle’s registration number nearby, as you will need to provide this information to determine if the impound has your car.
Steps For Getting Your Car Back
Once you identify the impound where your car was towed to, the next step is to find out what is needed to get your car back.
The specific steps to take depend on the reason your car was towed. Do take note that, in addition to charges related to arrears, you will also be responsible for paying the towing company.
Getting Your Documents Ready
Before you head over to the impound, you should get a few documents together. This can help to speed up the process. The documentation that you need to get include:
- Your driver’s license
- Your vehicle’s registration papers
- Proof of your auto insurance
These are the first three documents that the impound will ask for, so be prepared when you arrive.
Additional documentation may also be requested. You will need to sort these documents should the impound ask for them.
Paying For The Towing Service
When you hand your documentation to the representative at the impound, you will be provided a bill from the towing service. Prior to providing you with additional details on the reasons for the towing or how you can get your car back, this bill needs to be settled.
In addition to a bill for the towing service, you need to ensure you consider the charges for vehicle storage. If you do not pay the bill immediately and follow the additional steps to get your car back, a storage fee will be charged. This can be charged either by the hour or for the number of days your car stands at the impound.
The majority of impounds will not accept credit cards as a means of payment for the bill. With this in mind, always ensure you take a cashier’s check with you. It is also usually possible to pay the bill with cash.
The bill depends on how far your car was towed, the service fees charged by the towing company, and the additional storage charges added by the impound.
Getting Your Car Back
Now that you have provided the requested documentation and paid the fees, the next step is to determine how you can get your car back. Do take note that further charges can be added by the impound if your car is not removed in a timely manner.
You should also be aware that the impound may put your car on auction when the storage fees exceed the current market value of the car. Thus, be sure to take appropriate actions right away.
The impound will tell you the reason for your car being towed after you have completed the previous steps. There are a few reasons why a car can be towed to an impound – and most of these will require payment before your car is released.
- If you skipped a payment recently, then you will likely need to bring your car’s payments up to date before you can get your vehicle. If you do not have the money right away, it is important to contact the bank or financial provider who assisted you with the vehicle finance. See if you can make an arrangement with them. For example, you can arrange to pay the missed payment on your next payment date or ask if it can be divided into smaller monthly payments.
- If you failed to pay a traffic fine, then you should pay this before the impound gives you the car.
- In a scenario where you parked on a reserved spot, then a fine may be reached out to you. When you get a fine, you need to pay it and provide proof of the payment. The fee charged for the fine depends on the reason. You can get a fine for parking directly in front of a fire hydrant or when you park on reserved spots – such as private parking areas or spots that are reserved for specific purposes like pick up trucks.
After you settle any additional fees related to an arrear loan, an overdue traffic ticket, or a fine reached out to you for another reason, then there should not be further problems. You can request to get your car back from the impound – just be sure to take proof of the settlement you made with you.