How Much Are Towing Fees?

Image shows a map and four images: three of which are tow trucks taking cars, and the fourth is a car at a garage. text reads: "Average towing costs: 100-mile tow ($250-$600). 40-Mile tow ($100-$250). 5- to 7-mile tow ($30-$100). Tow charge: $2.50-$7.00"

Image by Bailey Mariner © The Balance 2019

Car tows are common in the U.S., and most car owners will find that they need at least one tow in their lifetime. Towing fees can be costly if you do not belong to a roadside assistance group or get roadside assistance through your insurance. For those without an emergency fund, it could be difficult to afford a tow when you need one.

People may not realize that tow services can include more than transporting a vehicle from one place to another. The fees charged can vary depending on your circumstances, what services you need, where you live, and the tow company. However, there is enough consistency from one tow company to the next to get a general sense of how much a tow will cost you.

Why Would I Need To Be Towed?

There are several reasons that you might need to employ the services of a tow truck. Thankfully, several of them are avoidable—but many are not. If you are in an accident and your car is damaged to the point that you cannot drive it, or if your car has a mechanical problem that keeps it from starting, you’re definitely going to need a tow truck.

However, some of the most common reasons for needing a tow truck are avoidable. Have you ever accidentally left your lights on and killed your battery? Keeping a pair of jumper cables in your trunk could help you avoid making the costly call to a towing company. Likewise, it's a good idea to keep an eye on the gas gauge and learn how to change a flat tire (and keep a spare tire in your trunk).

Average Tow Costs

According to Angie's List, the national average cost of a tow is $109. The exact rates vary by location, but you can expect a charge of roughly $2.50 to $7 per mile. The higher dollar amount is more likely to apply to heavy-duty vehicles. The cost adds up fast. Here's a ballpark estimate of what you could end up paying:

Finding a mechanic nearby could really help reduce the cost of your tow.

  • Between five and seven miles: $30 to $100
  • 40 miles: $100 to $250
  • 100 miles: $250 to $600

What Services Do Tow Companies Offer?

Tow companies do a lot more than simply tow cars. Calling a tow company to help can save the day, even if you don't necessarily need a tow. Other services that are often available from a tow company include:

  • Gas delivery
  • Jump start
  • Unlock door
  • Tire change
  • Transport a vehicle
  • Pull you out if stuck

What Impacts the Cost of a Tow?

If you check directly on a tow company's website for pricing, you will probably be hard-pressed to find a dollar amount. However, towing rates are fairly standard, so you can estimate a ballpark figure. Towing fees often start at $50 and can quickly get as high as $100, depending on the type of tow and where you are located.

Often, the base fee or "hook-up fee" is $50, regardless of whether you need your vehicle towed one mile or 20 miles. More mileage usually comes with a higher price tag. A standard tow is usually cheaper than a flatbed tow. A tow due to a car accident can be substantially higher.

If your vehicle was towed and impounded, that can come with extra fees that substantially increase the total cost.

Roadside Assistance

Roadside assistance can seriously come in handy when you need a tow. Options for roadside assistance coverage vary from policy to policy. Some car insurance carriers offer $50, $100, and $150 limits of coverage.

The dollar amounts of coverage can come with a mileage limit too. For example, your insurance provider may offer $50 of coverage for up to a 20-mile tow. Sometimes, the coverage is based upon mileage instead of a dollar amount. Some insurance policies may be set up to cover a 100-mile tow, no matter how much the tow company charges. It is important to understand your coverage at the time you purchase it so you are not confused about how much is covered and what to do when you need a tow.

If your vehicle needed to be towed after a covered loss accident, your car insurance policy will most likely cover the cost of the tow within your claim, even without having selected roadside assistance. It is nice coverage to have since a tow at the scene of an accident can cost more than a standard mechanical problem tow.

If you have questions about your roadside assistance coverage, you should call your car insurance agent.

Sometimes, your agent may be able to file your claim for you and have a tow truck sent out to your location. It all depends on your policy. Hopefully, you will be on your way in no time with a quick call to the tow service, just make sure to keep your receipt if you hope to file a claim on your car insurance.

Roadside Assistance Membership Clubs

Not all roadside assistance is created equal, and your insurance agent isn't the only person to buy it from. Prices and perks vary by location, but most basic AAA plans are less than $100 per year and cover at least some amount of towing. Advanced plans will cover 100 miles of towing or more. Hopefully, you don’t need to be towed that far! But if you do, you’ll breathe a little easier knowing that you’ve already paid for this perk.

Membership groups like AAA may also include perks such as jumps if your car battery dies, discounts on hotels and travel destinations, and even loans and banking services.