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EDUCATIONAL CONSUMER TIPS


Towing Companies - Automobile


Having your vehicle towed will generally happen because of one of the two following circumstances: you called to have your car towed, or you were towed by a company without your consent. 


Consensual Towing


Consensual towing is where the person who owns or is driving the vehicle initiates the tow. Perhaps your vehicle broke down, is unsafe to drive, or you were in a minor accident. You decide when your vehicle is towed, where it is taken, and by whom. 


Non-Consensual Towing


The best way to deal with non-consensual towing is to avoid it in the first place. Think about whether your car is likely to be towed before leaving it. Check for signs warning drivers to possess special permits, pay a fee to use a parking space, or keep an area clear during certain times. And never park in a red zone or near a fire hydrant. With a little forethought you can almost always figure out if your car is at risk of being towed.


Roadside Service Providers


Many drivers possess some form of roadside assistance, either through their insurance, cell phone plan, membership in an auto club, or as a temporary perk of purchasing a new car. Whatever it is, have the information readily available so you can get it when you need it. Know the terms and conditions. Often these plans will save you money if you’re forced to tow your car, but it always a good idea to do your research in advance. Check out the tow company they have contracted to provide you with the actual service.


If you do not have Roadside Service


As a consumer requiring towing services in general; know who you will call if you need them. Also know where you will ask them to take your car. The shorter the distance the better.


Private Property Impounds


If you catch your car about to be towed from private property you may ask the tow operator to stop, or even to release your car, if they have not yet left the property. If the tow operator refuses to release your car you should NOT stand in his/her way or otherwise interfere physically with the tow. You may take a picture, if you can do so safely, and you may call the police to assist you.


The first thing to do if you find your car missing is look around for a sign warning of the possibility of a tow. These signs will usually display a number you can call for information.  If no such number is displayed call the non-emergency number for the local police, CHP, or Sheriffs Department. They will be able to help you determine if your car was towed, or if it may have been stolen.


Once your car has been towed contact the towing company as soon as possible and ask for the Towing Fees and Access Notice. The towing company is required to give this to you, and it will specify your rights and its fee structure.