How Much Does It Cost to Tow a Car?

Car towing costs

Whether your vehicle just broke down or you’ve been in an accident, you might find yourself needing a tow truck. How much does it cost to tow a car, and how can you save money on this service?

In this article, I examine the average costs in-depth. I also talk about the factors that affect the price, and outline some ways you can save more money. Beyond that, I discuss the reasons you might need to have your car towed and outline some extra services these companies provide. 

How Much Does It Cost to Tow a Car?

On average, you might spend $40 to $150 to hire a tow truck for five miles or less. Most tow companies will charge between $2 to $7 per mile, aside from the initial fee.  The main factors affecting the price include the distance traveled and the vehicle size, as well as the location and the time of day that towing takes place. 

You will pay the least amount of money for a short-distance tow, usually comprising five miles or less. There will be a one-time hook-up fee, which can be $35 to $75 during regular business hours. Aside from this, you must also pay the per-mile fee.

However, if you were involved in a car accident, the insurance company might cover the expense of the tow. You can also have it paid for, at least partially, if you have roadside assistance. These plans can be purchased individually, or they could be included through your dealership with the purchase of your vehicle. With roadside assistance plans and your insurance coverage, you might still be responsible for a deductible, and you may be required to use a particular company. 

Factors Affecting Cost to Tow a Car

1. Towing Distance

Most tow truck companies will charge a minimum fee just for coming out. Beyond this, the company is going to calculate the rest of the fees based on how far they are traveling. 

This cost covers the fuel charge and gives the business some extra overhead for expenses. If you want to keep the cost to a minimum, you don’t want to tow the vehicle too far. Ideally, you would choose the closest service center, so that you end up with a lower bill. 

However, if you work on your own vehicle, you might prefer to have the car towed home. If you haven’t broken down near your house, you could be looking at a higher bill, but that money might be saved by not using a mechanic. 

2. Vehicle Size

The towing company may also charge a different fee based on what type of vehicle you drive. Most prices are based on four-door passenger cars, so if you have a large SUV or truck, you can expect to pay more.

Expect to pay at least an extra $10 to $25 for the oversized vehicle. The reason for this extra charge is due to the added work the driver might have to perform to get the vehicle secured. 

3. Time of Day

There’s going to be a dramatic cost difference based on the time of day. If you are calling during normal business hours, you will pay the lowest rate possible.

If towing needs to occur after-hours, expect to pay a premium charge. Some companies can charge another $150 to $200 just for coming out after-hours, so be sure to shop around. 

4. Location

If your car breaks down in a rural community away from the cities, you might not spend as much. These companies don’t pay as much for rent and can charge a lower fee.

On the other hand, towing in major cities is going to be the most expensive. Everything costs more in the city. 

Reasons to Be Towed

Why would you need to have your car towed? Towing is a beneficial service when you can’t safely get your vehicle from one location to another. It’s possible that the car is completely unable to run, or you don’t feel safe transporting it yourself. Towing is beneficial if the car won’t start or if the tires blow out. 

However, not every broken-down car requires a tow truck. For example, if the car won’t start because the battery is dead, you can have it jumpstarted to get back on the road. Additionally, if you have a flat tire, you can replace it with a spare. Evaluate the need to have a tow truck come to determine if that’s the only option. 

Services Offered by Tow Companies

It might surprise you to know that tow companies offer more than the average tow. You can call the company when you need transportation from one place to another, but that’s not all you can get. Many tow companies also provide some level of roadside assistance for a fee. 

If your vehicle won’t start or has run out of fuel, you might be able to take advantage of some of these services:

  • Gas delivery
  • Battery jumpstart
  • Car lockout service 
  • Flat tire change
  • Remove stuck car with a winch

Each company offers a variety of services that differ from others. To determine what’s available to you, a call to the company is necessary. 

Ways to Save Money on Towing Costs

1. Talk to Car Insurance

If you need to have the car towed because of an accident, your insurance company might cover the costs. Call your provider to see what’s available. 

Otherwise, you might be able to add roadside service when you are choosing your policy. Even if it adds a small amount of money each month, it can save you a lot when the time comes to get the car towed. Most providers aren’t going to charge a high fee, but you might have to pay a deductible when the service is actually requested. 

2. Use Roadside Assistance

If your auto insurance company doesn’t provide roadside assistance, there are other options available to you. Newer and Certified Pre-Owned vehicles often come with some sort of roadside assistance package, so check with your dealership about what’s available.

If all else fails, there are plenty of auto clubs to choose from. The most well-known provider is AAA. This members-only club provides towing services and other emergency help. The price depends on where you live and the type of cars you drive. On average, you might spend $75 to $125 a year for this club membership, which also provides discounts on things you might use every day.

However, AAA isn’t your only roadside assistance option. Go ahead and shop around for the best price. Just be sure you choose a reputable company that’s going to be accepted by local towing providers. 

3. Ask Credit Card Company

If you use a credit card, it’s possible that you have roadside assistance perks you don’t even know about. Many credit card companies offer roadside assistance services, or they can be added for a small fee. If your company doesn’t provide this, it might be worth switching cards to another brand. 

However, you will want to carefully read the conditions that come with the plan. You might need to stick to a limit of calls. After that, you could be charged full price. Additionally, your credit card company might only provide discounts on the towing service, instead of covering the whole bill. Still, you should be able to save a decent amount of money when everything is said and done. 

4. Shop Around for Best Rates

As with any service, you would be wise to shop around for the best rates. The reason that many tow companies charge so much is because you need their help in a pinch. However, if you have a few minutes to do some comparative shopping, you could save a lot. As long as your vehicle is in a safe place, you can take the time needed to make some calls.

Ideally, you could call these companies before a breakdown happens. Get to know the local companies, so you can determine who to call when an emergency occurs. While the prices might change slightly over the months and years until you need them, you will have an idea about who is most competitively priced and has the best customer service.

Can I tow a car with my car?

Yes. You can tow a car with your own car, but there are some things to keep in mind before doing so. For one, you’ll need to make sure that your car is powerful enough to actually tow the weight of the other car. Additionally, you’ll need to have the proper equipment for towing, and you’ll need to know how to use it properly.

Why do tow trucks take so long?

There are a few reasons why tow trucks might take a while to arrive. First, they may be dispatched from far away if there are no other tow trucks in the area. Second, the tow truck may be dealing with multiple calls at once and thus take longer to reach each individual call. In any case, it’s important to be patient when waiting for a tow truck. Remember that the driver is trying their best to get to you as soon as possible!

How long does it take to hook up a car to a tow truck?

It usually takes about 5 to 15 minutes to hook up a car to a tow truck. However, this time can vary depending on the make and model of the car and the tow truck, as well as the experience of the person doing the hooking up.

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