A report by U.S. PIRG Education Fund
Every year, millions of Americans have their cars towed.
In some cases, the vehicle was parked improperly, the driver tracks it down and pays the bill without incident. Other times, the vehicle owner may face an array of unfair circumstances. Predatory practices following an initial tow can range from charging exorbitant fees to refusing the owner access to the personal items in their car during business hours. In still other cases, the driver’s vehicle wasn’t really parked improperly and was towed illegally.
Under the best circumstances, getting towed is an ordeal, even when justified. For many drivers, however, the situation is compounded because consumer towing protections in most states are weak, nebulous or non-existent.
U.S. PIRG Education Fund identified 14 common-sense towing protections that should be available to consumers in every state, and researched which states offer those safeguards. These protections range from who is responsible for damages caused by careless towing to whether you are guaranteed the option to pay by credit card. You can find out which states offer which protections using our “search by state” tool below.
Click through the slideshow below to see the summary of how many U.S. states offer which protections to consumers.
A closer look at key protections
1. Rates and charges
2. Access to personal items
3. Release for incomplete tow
Tips for consumers
Conclusion and recommendations
Call on your governor to protect consumers
Many states don't offer important measures to shield consumers from predatory or unfair towing practices.
Find out more