What Happens After My Car Gets Towed?
After your car is towed, it’s brought to our lot and the gate is locked. It stays there until you come and get it (if you don’t get it within a few weeks, we’ll start the auction process, which we can talk about later).
There. That’s the mystery.
We know you still have questions, so we’ll answer two of the most common ones first:
1. How much do I have to pay to pick it up?
We charge $170/hour for the initial tow, plus $43 for every additional day the car is stored.
1a. Why is it so much?
The state of Washington sets a range of fees each year for the rates (for this year, it is $170-$245/hour). They regulate these, too.
2. How do I pay?
You can pay with cash or credit card. We cannot take credit cards over the phone, either. Payment must be done in person. The person paying must have matching identification. If you’re using a partner/friend’s card, you need to go to an ATM and bring cash.
Other things to know about retrieving your vehicle that will prevent you frustration
1. The registered owner must be the person who picks up the vehicle. It’s quite sweet of your girlfriend or partner to pick up your vehicle for you. But if their name is not on the title, we cannot give them the car.
You have two other options: (a) you can have a notarized statement signifying this person (as indicated on the letter) can retrieve your vehicle, or (b) can have a signed off title. Either one works.
Important note: sometimes, a car is impounded and the owner is incarcerated or hospitalized. In both cases, use a notary to permit someone else to get the vehicle.
Important note #2: for DUIs, there’s a mandatory 12-hour hold on the vehicle, which begins when the tow call has ended
2. Do NOT leave the title in your car before it’s impounded. Yeesh – if only we can get this message blasted everywhere. When your car is getting impounded, please get your title out to bring with you. It’ll save you so much hassle.
Also, if you have really important medication or valuable items, be sure to take those out too.
3. Get your car as soon as possible. You know this, but we’ll explain it anyway: impounding involves a daily storage fee. You are charged initially for the tow, and then for each day it’s on our lot (which, as stated earlier, are both determined and regulated by the state).
You are charged based on the time the vehicle comes in. We charge in 12-hour increments. The longer you wait, the higher you’ll pay.
After five days (120 hours after the tow), your car is considered by the state to be an abandoned vehicle. At this point, we will send a certified mailing letting you know that we’re starting the auction process. DO NOT FREAK OUT: this doesn’t mean your car is being auctioned immediately—the process takes anywhere from 23-30 days—just that you better get in gear and pick it up.
4. You can contest the tow. There is something called a “hearing request form” – this is the document you submit if you want to contest anything about the tow. Any issue or anything you feel is unfair—fees, reasons for being towed, mismanagement of your vehicle—is all within your right to pursue. You have 10 days after the tow in which you can file it.
If you have any questions, call our office manager. She answers our main line, which is (360) 696-1710. Or just say ‘hi’ to her – she works very hard to keep things coordinated.
If you have any other questions, we offer this comprehensive resource for you: RCW.46.55.00, your all-in-one guide for all things towing.