What Happens If Your Car Gets Towed And You Don’t Pick It Up? Understanding the Consequences

what happens if your car gets towed and you don’t pick it up

If you’ve ever had your car towed, you know how frustrating it can be. But what happens if you don’t pick it up? Many people assume that the towing company will just keep the car indefinitely, but that’s not the case. In fact, there are a number of things that can happen if you don’t retrieve your vehicle in a timely manner.

One of the first things that will happen is that you’ll start accruing fees. These can include storage fees, towing fees, and any other costs associated with the impoundment of your vehicle. If you don’t pay these fees, the towing company may eventually sell your car at auction to recoup their costs. This can be a costly mistake, as you could end up owing more money than the car is worth.

What Happens When Your Car Gets Towed

Reasons for Towing

There are several reasons why a car might be towed. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • Parking violations: If a car is parked illegally or in a no-parking zone, it may be towed.
  • Abandoned vehicles: If a car is left on the side of the road for an extended period of time, it may be towed.
  • Accidents: If a car is involved in an accident and is not drivable, it may be towed.
  • Police impound: If a car is involved in a crime or is being used in an illegal activity, it may be towed and impounded by the police.

Towing Process

When a car is towed, it is taken to a tow lot or impound yard. The owner of the car will need to pay a fee to retrieve their vehicle. The fees associated with towing and impounding a car can vary depending on the location and the reason for the tow.

In most cases, the towing company is required to notify the owner of the car that it has been towed and where it is being stored. The owner will need to provide proof of ownership and pay any outstanding fees before the car can be released.

If the car is not picked up within a certain amount of time, it may be sold at auction to cover the costs of the tow and impound fees. The amount of time that a car can be held before it is sold varies by location, so it is important to check with the local authorities to find out the specific rules in your area.

Consequences of Not Picking Up Your Towed Car

If your car has been towed and you fail to retrieve it, you may face a range of consequences. Here are some of the potential outcomes of not picking up your towed car.

Impound Fees and Charges

One of the most immediate consequences of not picking up your towed car is the accumulation of impound fees and charges. Impound lots charge daily storage fees, which can quickly add up over time. If you leave your car in impound for too long, you may also face additional fees for administrative costs, lien fees, and auction fees.

Legal Consequences

In addition to financial penalties, there may be legal consequences for failing to pick up your towed car. Depending on the circumstances, you may be issued a citation or ticket for violating parking regulations or other laws. In some cases, you may even face criminal charges if your car was towed due to a serious offense such as driving under the influence or reckless driving.

Vehicle Disposition

If you do not pick up your towed car within a certain timeframe, the impound lot may dispose of it. This could involve selling the car at auction or scrapping it for parts. In either case, you will not receive any compensation for the vehicle, and you may still be liable for any outstanding fees or charges.

To avoid these consequences, it is important to retrieve your towed car as soon as possible. Check with your local authorities or impound lot to determine the exact procedures and fees for retrieving your vehicle. Additionally, make sure to bring all necessary documentation, such as proof of ownership and insurance, to avoid any delays or complications.

How to Retrieve Your Towed Car?

If your car has been towed, it can be a stressful experience to retrieve it. However, with the right information and preparation, the process can be much smoother. Here are some steps to follow when retrieving your towed car.

Documents Required

Before heading to the impound lot, make sure you have all the necessary documents. Generally, you will need your driver’s license, proof of ownership, proof of insurance, and registration. It’s essential to have these documents ready to avoid any delays or complications when retrieving your car.

Location of Impound Lot

The first step to retrieving your towed car is finding out where it is located. You can call the local police department or towing company to get this information. Once you have the location, make sure to plan your route and transportation to the impound lot.

Payment of Fees

When retrieving your towed car, you will need to pay the fees associated with the towing and impoundment. These fees can vary depending on the location and duration of impoundment. Be prepared to pay these fees in cash or with a credit card. It’s important to note that if you don’t pick up your car within a certain timeframe, additional fees may accumulate, and your car could be sold or scrapped.

Preventing Your Car from Being Towed

When it comes to towing, prevention is always better than cure. Here are some tips to help you keep your car from being towed.

Parking Regulations

One of the most common reasons for towing is parking violations. Make sure to read and follow all parking regulations in your area. This includes paying attention to signs, parking meters, and time limits. If you’re unsure about the parking regulations in a particular area, it’s best to ask a local authority for advice.

Private Property Towing

Private property towing is another common reason for vehicle towing. This occurs when a vehicle is parked on private property without permission. To avoid this, always make sure to park in designated areas only. If you’re unsure whether a parking area is private property, it’s best to ask the property owner for permission.

If you do find yourself in a situation where your car has been towed, it’s important to act quickly. The longer you wait, the more expensive it will be to retrieve your vehicle. Additionally, if you don’t pick up your car within a certain amount of time, it may be sold or scrapped.


In conclusion, if your car gets towed and you don’t pick it up, you will be subject to various fees and penalties. The impound lot will charge you storage fees that will continue to accumulate until you retrieve your car. If you leave your car at the impound lot for too long, it may be sold off in an auction or scrapped.

The fees you will have to pay to retrieve your car will depend on the jurisdiction. Typically, you will have to pay a release fee, towing charges, and storage fees. The release fee can range from $90 to $250, while towing charges can range from $100 to $800. Storage fees can start at $10 and go up to $100 per day.

It’s important to note that the longer you leave your car at the impound lot, the more fees you will have to pay. Therefore, it’s essential to retrieve your car as soon as possible to avoid accumulating more charges.

If you find yourself in a situation where your car has been towed, make sure to follow the necessary steps to retrieve it. Request a property release and pay off all the fees to get your car back. Also, be sure to check your car thoroughly for any damages or missing items before leaving the impound lot.

Overall, it’s best to avoid getting your car towed by following parking regulations and paying any outstanding fines promptly.


Can I retrieve my belongings from my towed car? 

Yes, you are entitled to retrieve your personal belongings from your towed car. However, you may need to provide proof of ownership or identification to do so. It is best to contact the towing company beforehand to understand their specific policies and procedures.

What happens if I cannot afford to pay the towing and storage fees?

 If you cannot afford to pay the towing and storage fees, your car may be sold at a public auction. The proceeds from the sale will be used to cover the fees, and any remaining funds will be returned to you. It is important to note that you may still be responsible for any outstanding balance.

Can I dispute the towing charges?

 Yes, you can dispute the towing charges if you believe they are unreasonable or unjustified. Contact the towing company or the local authorities to understand the process for filing a dispute.

What if my car was towed by mistake? 

If your car was towed by mistake, you may be able to have the fees waived or refunded. Contact the towing company or the local authorities to understand the process for disputing the tow.

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