Q: The wrecker company wants to charge me almost $200 to get my car out – that seems like a lot, is that right?
A: A wrecker company is allowed to charge a $185 towing fee, $20 impound fee, and $20 storage fee once it enters their lot. The total with tax comes to about $225. You may pay by cash or debit/credit card. They will charge a $20 storage fee each additional day the vehicle is held and can charge a $50 administrative fee if they mail out certified notification letters to the registered owner. It is important to remove the vehicle from impound as soon as possible to avoid costly fees.
Q: Does a tow truck company have the right to refuse a credit card payment?
A: Tow companies must accept credit card payments.
Q: I came outside to see my car partially hooked up to a wrecker – what rights do I have?
A: 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 ($185) after it has left the property.
Q: How do I know where my car was towed to?
A: 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. For vehicles towed from a public road, please call 3-1-1 or 512-974-8110 with your vehicle information, and we can look up its location.
Q: What do I do if I think my car was towed illegally?
A: 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. 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.
Q: I called my own wrecker to the scene of an accident, but when APD arrived they said the company wasn’t on the “approved list” and wouldn’t let me use them. Is this legal?
A: 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.
Q: I feel that my car was towed illegally; can an APD officer make the tow truck company release my vehicle without any cost to me?
A: 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.
Q: My car was left on the side of the highway for only an hour, why did APD have it towed by Southside Wrecker?
A: 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.