How Much Does It Cost to Tow a Car?

When it comes to dealing with car troubles, knowing the cost of getting your vehicle towed can bring much-needed financial peace of mind. Towing costs can vary greatly depending on factors such as your vehicle’s size, the distance to be covered, and the time or day the service is needed. It is crucial to have a clear understanding of these factors to estimate the potential expenses you may encounter when in need of a tow truck service.

The average cost for towing a car is around $109. However, this number can fluctuate as you should generally expect to pay between $2.50 and $7.00 per mile. Additionally, base fees for merely hooking up your car to the tow truck can range from as low as $35 to as high as $100, which does not include the distance-based charges. Keep in mind that towing rates may also be affected by factors such as nighttime, weekend, or holiday services and the terrain your car will travel through.

Understanding these variables and costs involved in towing your car will enable you to be better prepared for roadside emergencies. By considering factors like the size of your vehicle, distance, and timing, you can make more informed decisions when it comes to choosing a towing service and potentially avoid unexpected financial surprises.

Types of Towing Services

Flatbed Tow

A flatbed tow is one of the most popular methods for towing a car. This service involves placing a vehicle on a flatbed truck, which then transports the car to its destination. This type of towing service is considered safer and more secure, as the vehicle is not in contact with the ground during transport. Flatbed tow trucks are particularly useful for towing delicate vehicles, such as luxury or antique cars, but they may also be used for everyday vehicles, depending on the situation.

Hook-Up Tow

The hook-up tow method, also known as a “dolly tow” or “wheel-lift tow,” is another option for towing a car. In this method, the tow truck uses a metal yoke to lift and attach the car’s front or rear wheels to the tow truck. The remaining wheels on the ground will then roll along. Hook-up towing services are typically less expensive compared to flatbed towing but may not be as safe or suitable for particular vehicles, such as those with low ground clearance or all-wheel drive systems.

Motorcycle Tow

Motorcycle towing is a unique service catered specifically to transporting motorcycles. Like the flatbed tow method, motorcycle towing commonly uses a flatbed tow truck to place the motorcycle on a secure platform. Alternatively, some towing companies use unique attachments, like a motorcycle dolly, to affix the motorcycle to a regular tow truck securely. This service ensures that the motorcycle remains safe, stable, and secured during the towing process.

Heavy-Duty Vehicle Tow

Lastly, there are heavy-duty vehicle towing services, which focus on transporting larger vehicles like trucks, buses, or construction equipment. These towing services involve the use of larger tow trucks and specialized equipment to manage the increased size and weight of such vehicles. Heavy-duty vehicle tows require a higher level of expertise and may have higher costs associated with the service due to the additional equipment and personnel required.

Factors Affecting Towing Costs

Distance and Mileage

Towing costs are primarily influenced by the distance your car needs to be towed. The national average cost of a tow is around $109 and typically includes a “hook-up” fee and a per-mile charge. Expect to pay between $2.50 and $7.00 per mile, depending on factors such as the service provider and location.

Time of Day

The time of day can also impact towing costs. Towing companies might charge extra fees for after-hour services, such as on weekends, holidays, or during bad weather conditions. It’s important to check with the towing company ahead of time to avoid surprise fees.

Vehicle Size and Model

The size and model of your vehicle is another factor affecting towing costs. Towing larger vehicles, like SUVs or trucks, may require specialized equipment and, consequently, higher fees. Additionally, luxury or high-end car models may require special care, resulting in an increase in the towing cost.


Your location plays a crucial role in towing costs as well. Urban and densely populated areas tend to have higher rates due to increased demand and operational costs. Conversely, rural areas might have fewer services available, leading to higher fees due to supply and demand.

Roadside Assistance Inclusions

Many auto insurance policies and credit cards offer roadside assistance programs, which can provide services such as towing, gas delivery, and jump-starting your vehicle. These inclusions can significantly reduce or eliminate towing costs. It’s essential to review your insurance or credit card benefits to understand the coverage you have and any limitations that may apply.

Towing Company and Insurance Considerations

When it comes to the cost of towing a car, there are several factors to consider, including towing company policies, insurance provider policies and roadside assistance packages. This section will explore each of these considerations.

Towing Company Policies

Each towing company has its own policies regarding pricing and services. The cost may depend on factors such as vehicle size, distance towed, and the time of day or week. According to J.D. Power, the national average cost of a tow is around $109, and you may pay between $2.50 and $7.00 per mile. Some companies may have a base fee for hooking up your car to the tow truck, which is usually around $50, regardless of the towing distance, as mentioned in The Balance.

Insurance Provider Policies

Car insurance policies may include coverage for towing costs as part of their comprehensive or collision coverage. Check with your insurance provider to see if towing services are covered and under what circumstances. Keep in mind that towing services may only be covered if the tow is related to an accident or breakdown. Some insurance providers may also have partnerships with tow truck companies, offering discounted rates to policyholders.

Roadside Assistance Packages

Roadside assistance packages, such as those offered by companies like AAA, may provide towing services as part of their membership benefits. These services generally include a specific number of free towing incidents per year, covering a specific distance. To take advantage of this coverage, it’s essential to verify the terms and conditions with your roadside assistance provider. Be aware that if your towing needs exceed the limitations of the package, additional charges may apply.

In summary, to understand the cost of towing a car, take into consideration towing company policies, insurance provider coverage, and roadside assistance packages. Make sure to compare these factors to find the best option for your needs.

Towing Cost Estimates

National Average Cost

When estimating the cost of towing a car, it’s essential to consider the national average cost. According to J.D. Power, the national average cost of a tow is around $109. However, this can vary depending on factors like the size of your vehicle and the distance it needs to be towed.

Base Fees and Per-Mile Fees

Towing companies typically charge a base fee to hook up your car to the tow truck. This base fee ranges from as low as $35 to as high as $100, as stated by NerdWallet. On top of the base fee, towing rates usually include a cost per mile. Expect to pay between $2.50 and $7.00 per mile, depending on your location and other factors.

Base Fee Factors:

  • Size of your vehicle
  • Distance to be towed
  • Time of the day

Per-Mile Fee Factors:

  • Location and distance
  • Terrain
  • Traffic conditions

Additional Towing Services Fees

Keep in mind that additional fees may apply for towing services under specific circumstances. These additional fees may include:

  • Night, weekend, or holiday rates: Towing rates may increase if your car needs to be towed during non-business hours or on weekends and holidays.
  • Terrain: Towing a vehicle through challenging terrain, such as steep inclines or tight turns, may result in higher fees.

In summary, to estimate towing costs, you should consider the national average cost, the base fee, and per-mile fees depending on distance and location. Additionally, be aware of potential additional fees for specific circumstances like night, weekend, or holiday towing and challenging terrains.

Towing Situations and Reasons

Car Accidents and Stuck Vehicles

Car accidents and stuck vehicles are common reasons for towing services. In the case of a car accident, towing may be necessary if the vehicle is not safe to drive, has significant damages, or is blocking the road. For stuck vehicles, such as those trapped in mud, snow, or a ditch, towing services might use winching techniques to safely extricate the vehicle.

Impound and Police Issues

Local police might request towing services for a vehicle due to parking violations, unregistered vehicles, or abandoned cars. In these situations, the car is typically towed to an impound lot, where the owner must pay fees and fines to retrieve it later. Police may also request towing services for vehicles involved in crimes or accident investigations, ensuring the safety of the scene and the involved parties.

Mechanical Issues and Breakdowns

Mechanical issues and breakdowns, such as a flat tire, engine failure, or other malfunctions, often require towing to a nearby mechanic. Owners should assess the situation and determine if it is safe to drive the vehicle or if towing is necessary. Roadside assistance services, if available, can provide minor repairs or tire changes, but more significant issues warrant hiring a tow truck to transport the vehicle.

Car and Motorcycle Towing Equipment

U-Haul and Auto Transport

U-Haul offers a variety of towing equipment for both cars and motorcycles. For auto transport, they have options for tow dollies and auto transport trailers, providing a secure and easy moving solution for your vehicle. Tow dollies are perfect for front-wheel-drive cars, as they lift the front wheels off the ground, protecting them during transportation. On the other hand, auto transport trailers are fully enclosed, allowing you to safely transport your vehicle without worrying about potential damage on the road.

Car Haulers and Motorcycle Trailers

Car haulers are specialized trailers designed for transporting vehicles over long distances. They come in various sizes and capacities to accommodate different types of cars from compact to full-size. Car haulers are either open or enclosed, with the latter providing added protection from weather elements and potential road debris.

Motorcycle trailers, as the name suggests, are specifically designed for towing motorcycles. They come in different styles such as open, enclosed, and folding varieties. Open motorcycle trailers typically have a lower profile, allowing for easy loading and unloading. Enclosed options provide added security and protection against the elements while on the road. Folding motorcycle trailers offer the convenience of easy storage when not in use.

When selecting the right towing equipment, it is essential to consider the specific requirements of your vehicle and the intended transport distance. Always ensure that the selected equipment is compatible with your car or motorcycle to ensure safe and efficient transportation.

Long-Distance Towing Considerations

Loading and Safety Considerations

When preparing your car for long-distance towing, it is crucial to consider the maximum load capacity of the tow truck. This involves calculating the tow truck’s weight and the vehicle being towed. It’s essential to stay within the limits to ensure the safety of your car. Also, a loading ramp may be needed for secure loading and unloading. Remember to use security chains and tire straps to prevent the car from shifting during transportation. Additionally, consider the vehicle’s transmission type; consult the owner’s manual for proper towing methods based on your car’s specific transmission.

Pricing and Transportation Methods

The cost to tow a car varies based on several factors. On average, long-distance towing costs between $2 to $4 per mile. Keep in mind that there’s often an additional hook-up fee, and costs may be higher for more complex situations. For example, towing in challenging conditions, such as at night, on weekends, or during holidays, may incur additional charges. The national average cost of a tow is around $109, but rates can vary. Compare transportation methods, including flatbed tow trucks, dolly systems, or professional towing services, to find the best option for your vehicle and budget.

Oversized and Electric Vehicles Towing

Camper, Boat, and Other Special Vehicles

Towing oversized vehicles, such as campers, boats, and other special vehicles, typically requires more resources and equipment, resulting in higher costs. The average cost for towing such heavy-duty vehicles ranges from $200 to $800, depending on the size, weight, location, and distance traveled.

When towing these oversized vehicles, additional fees may apply due to required permits or escort vehicles. The cost breakdown for towing oversized vehicles may include:

  • Basic towing fee: $100 – $250
  • Per-mile fee: $3 – $5
  • Oversize permit: $50 – $200
  • Escort vehicle fee (if needed): $75 – $150

Challenges and Tips for Electric Vehicle Towing

Electric vehicle towing presents its own unique challenges. Some electric vehicles, for example, require flatbeds rather than traditional tow trucks to be safely transported. This can affect the typical costs of towing a car. Here are some key factors to consider when towing an electric vehicle:

  1. Tow Method: Flatbed towing is often recommended for electric vehicles to avoid damage to the vehicle’s components. This may cost an additional $50 to $100 compared to standard towing methods.
  2. Range and Charging: Electric vehicles have limited driving ranges and may require charging during transport. Locate charging stations en route and factor this into costs and trip length.
  3. Weight and Size: Electric vehicles tend to be heavier than their gas counterparts, which can affect the type of tow truck needed and may incur additional costs.
  4. Towing Company Experience: Select a towing company that has acknowledged experience and capability with electric vehicles to guarantee safe and efficient towing.

To minimize towing expenses and potential damage to an electric vehicle, research and select a reputable towing company, plan charging stops in advance, and confirm the appropriate equipment is used for towing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the average per mile charges for towing?

The average per mile charges for towing can range between $2.50 and $7.00 per mile. However, specific costs are based on various factors such as location, distance, and the type of tow truck used.

Do location and distance affect towing prices?

Yes, location and distance significantly impact towing prices. The costs can vary depending on the distance your car needs to be towed and whether it’s during a holiday, weekend, or night. Also, towing in challenging terrain or remote locations may lead to increased prices.

Are flatbed tow trucks more expensive?

Flatbed tow trucks tend to be more expensive than traditional tow trucks due to the additional equipment and specialized nature of the service. However, flatbed towing is often necessary for vehicles that cannot be towed using other methods, such as four-wheel-drive cars and sports cars.

How do AAA towing costs compare?

AAA offers its members roadside assistance, which typically includes free towing services for a limited distance. The towing costs for AAA members may vary depending on the type of membership and towing distance required. However, non-members may expect to pay the regular market rates for towing services.

What are common towing fees in California?

In California, the towing fees can vary depending on the region. For example, in Los Angeles, the base fee for a “hook up” may be around $50, while the per mile charges can range from $2.50 to $7.00, similar to the national average.

Do you tip tow truck drivers?

Tipping tow truck drivers is not a requirement but is seen as a kind gesture to show appreciation for their services. The amount you choose to tip is entirely up to your discretion, but a good benchmark could be 10-20% of the towing cost.

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