How Much Are Towing Fees?

Average Towing Costs

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 might 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 towing company. However, there is enough consistency from one towing company to the next to get a general sense of how much a tow will cost you.

Key Takeaways

  • The average cost of a tow is $109, though it varies, depending on the size of your vehicle and how far it must be towed.
  • The base fee is usually around $50 for a "hook up," regardless of how far your vehicle needs to be towed.
  • Having roadside assistance through your insurance company or a club like AAA can significantly reduce the cost of having your car towed.

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 quickly. 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 Towing Companies Offer?

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

  • Gas delivery
  • Jump starting
  • Unlocking door
  • Tire changing
  • Transporting a vehicle
  • Pulling you out if you are stuck

What Impacts the Cost of a Tow?

If you check directly on a towing 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, you may have 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 towing company charges. It is important to understand your coverage at the time you purchase it so you will not be 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 your 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 towing 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 source 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 won’t need to be towed that far! But if you do, you’ll breathe a little easier knowing that you’ve already paid for that perk.

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