Tow companies must accept credit card payments.
If your car was towed from a parking lot, red & white signs should be posted at the entrance/exit with the name and phone number of the wrecker company who tows from that lot. Please call that number for more information about your vehicle or you may visit www.search.autoreturn.com. For vehicles towed from a public road, please call 3-1-1 with your vehicle information, or you can visit www.search.autoreturn.com.
We monitor the quality of the participants in order to ensure public safety, so we do require that any wrecker who services a call while APD is on scene be part of our approved roster of companies.
If the car is not fully prepared for transport, the wrecker must release your vehicle at no charge and you must move the vehicle immediately, if not legally parked. If the wrecker is “Fully Prepared for Transport” but has not yet left the property, you can pay a $50 fee for them to drop the vehicle and you must remove it from the scene immediately. A tow company can charge the standard non-consent tow fee ($150) after it has left the property.
If your vehicle has been towed, we need to go through the proper channels to investigate the legality of the tow. Contact 3-1-1 to file a Wrecker Ordinance Violation. It is best to redeem your vehicle as soon as possible so it stops accruing storage fees. You can then file for an Unlawful Tow Hearing through the Justice of the Peace. On the back of the tow receipt is information about the Justice of Peace. You file in the court that corresponds to the area of town from which your vehicle was towed.
The City of Austin works under a Zone Program. This allows the Police Department to remove vehicles from major roadways (IH 35, Mo-Pac Expressway, US Hwy 183) that could potentially cause hazards. Wrecker companies are stationed on these major roadways during rush hour times Monday – Friday from 6am-9am and 4pm-7pm, except for City of Austin Holidays. If a vehicle is left unattended during this time, the vehicle will be removed immediately. Any vehicle left unattended on IH-35 will be impounded as a traffic hazard because of the high volume of traffic on this road at any hour. Otherwise, vehicles left unattended on the roadways that do not pose as a traffic hazard will be tagged as abandoned and impounded after 48 hours, if still on scene.
An impound in Austin will cost $185, $20 impound fee, $25 administrative fee (applicable to police impounds only), and $20 storage fees once the vehicle arrives at the vehicle storage facility. The approximate total is $253.30. Cash or debit/credit cards are accepted at all vehicle storage facilities. Example: if your car is impounded at 1:56 p.m. and it arrives at the vehicle storage facility a $20 fee is incurred automatically. At 12 a.m. the following morning a new day begins and another $20 storage fee is added to the total. The vehicle storage facility may also charge $50 after the 2nd day if a certified notification letter is sent to the registered owner about their vehicle. It is important to remove a vehicle from impound as soon as possible to avoid costly fees. If you are not sure if your car has been stolen or impounded, go to www.autoreturn.com and enter your license plate to find out if your vehicle has been impounded, or call 311 or (512) 974-2000 if calling from an area code other than 512.
Call 3-1-1 and file a police report for “wrecker ordinance violation.” Pay to get your car out of impound and request a hearing with the local Justice of the Peace to potentially recoup your money. Please see the City of Austin Towing Customer Bill of Rights in English and in Spanish. You can also contact the state agency that regulates towing, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (“TDLR”) at 1-800-803-9202. After you have made a police report, the case will be assigned to a Detective and they will be in contact with you.