Car Impounded Can’t Afford To Get Out? Here’s Your Options

If you have ever had your car impounded, you know it can be a stressful experience. Not only is it hard to get the money together, but it is also inconvenient. The last thing you want to do when your car is impounded is paying a towing company for something that was not your fault in the first place.

You may be thinking, “I can’t afford to get my car out of impound” not knowing what kind of charges will be placed and how much you need to pay for it can make this stressful situation even worse.

What If I Can’t Get My Car Out of Impound?

This is a common question that people face when they find themselves in this situation. It’s not easy to come up with the money, especially if it happened on your way home from work and you are already short on cash for bills each month.

The consequences of having an impounded car can be very stressful because it does not only affect you, but also affects your family and friends if you need to ask them for a ride.

Man on the phone while transacting payment.

There is good news: there are several ways that you can get help with this situation, even when you cannot afford to pay the high price of impound fees.

  • See if they have a payment plan or any other form of assistance that you can use, no matter what your financial situation is.
  • Apply for public assistance if you are eligible.
  • There is also the possibility that your insurance will cover part of the fees, but this depends on why your car was towed in the first place. Find out what kind of plan you have through your insurance company and talk to them about getting some money back after impound costs. You may be surprised to find out that they can help you with this situation.
  • If you still can’t afford to pay, ask if there is a local charity that can help. If you are willing to work, some charities may offer free impound services in exchange for your time. Look into it!

Many of us go through hard times once in a while, and there may be no way to know when it will happen. You never want to think about what you would do if your car was impounded because the chances of this happening are very slim. However, just like with anything else that can go wrong, having an emergency plan is always smart.

How to Get Your Car Out of Impound

If your car has been impounded, getting the vehicle back can be an expensive and time-consuming process. Not only do you need to pay all outstanding fees (including any fines), but these charges generally don’t stop once your car is released from storage; they will continue until paid in full.

To avoid these costs and inconveniences, it’s best to act quickly when you get an impound notice in the mail. The faster you act after receiving this notice, the better your chance of getting out of paying fees or fines (depending on which state you live in).

1.     Find out where your vehicle is by locating where the impound lot is. The police will usually provide this information, or you can contact them for help. You may also be able to find an impound lot near you by using Google Maps.

If you are unsuccessful in locating your vehicle within 24 hours, give it another day or so, as the impound lot hasn’t had time to update its records yet.

2.     After locating your vehicle, make sure to call the impound lot. This is to save you from all the time and hassle of driving to the location of your car only to find out it’s already been released.

Remember that you will need proof of ownership or possession for them to release your vehicle back into your custody, so be prepared with these documents when calling ahead. Some of the documents required may include:

  • Registration papers
  • Proof of insurance
  • Driving license or other photo identification paperwork
A woman holding her driver’s license.

If you are unable to provide these documents, then the best thing that you can do is bring someone who has power of attorney over your car. If not they will most likely take your vehicle offsite for storage until its ownership issues have been resolved; this means additional fees and charges (which may also be added onto what was originally owed).

3.     Find out if a payment plan is available for getting your vehicle back from the impound lot. Most impound lots will ask for a down payment before releasing it. Payment plans usually range between $100 to $500, or more depending on the company you are dealing with.

4.     If your car is towed, inquire about the towing fees you must pay. This fee may be different than what it costs if the police impounded your vehicle. It may also vary depending on the company that towed your car.

5.     Find out how much storage fees will be. These rates vary from state to state and may change depending on the size of your car or if it is a weekend, holiday, etc. Your vehicle may be sent to the storage if you are unable to meet the impound lot’s requirements within 24 hours of your car being taken.

6.     Know the time and date of your release. You may be able to take your car home with you if it is before or after regular business hours, depending on where the impound lot is located.

It typically takes less than 24 hours to get your car back from the impound lot. However, it may take longer depending on where you live and what you owe when coming in for pick-up.

7.     Ask about the release procedure. Most impound lots will require you to sign a form when picking up your car, so be prepared for this and bring identification with you if requested (see #2).

8.     Pay all fees in full before you leave. They may provide a receipt for your payment, which will be necessary when filing an insurance claim afterward (if applicable).

9.     Ensure you are not driving on a suspended license before leaving the impound lot. If your car was towed, then this is most likely still in effect until it’s paid off or cleared by court order.

10.     If the police impounded your car, then you may be required to attend traffic court. The best thing that you can do is research the requirements for your state beforehand to know how much time off work or school this will take up and if there’s any way around it (if possible).

Tips for Coming Up With Additional Funds

If you don’t have enough money to pay the impound and storage fees, it’s time to start looking for other ways of coming up with that much cash, and here are some suggestions:

Woman calculating fees for vehicle.
  • Ask if the impound lot will accept credit cards or check. Some do, but not all. If you get a positive answer, then it’s best to be prepared with either of these payment methods beforehand so that you can pay as soon as possible after your car is released.
  • Use a new bank account at your local credit union to request an overdraft advance on checking accounts–be sure you understand the terms of this type of transaction though because some can be very expensive.
  • Sell items that are expensive but not necessary to replace (such as a TV stereo system, or others). If selling them isn’t an option, visit a local pawnshop to see how much you can get for them.
  • Borrow from friends and family. This is not always an option, but some people can come up with the money if you offer to pay them back in installments.
  • Insurance companies may be willing to pay the fees for you. If your car was towed, check with your insurance company first before paying because they could have already paid these tow and impound expenses on your behalf.

Insurance Coverage for Vehicle Storage and Towing

There are several types of insurance that can cover the expenses to get your car back from an impound lot. Here’s a list of common coverage types that may come in handy:

Collision insurance

If your vehicle was towed because it is considered stolen, then this type of policy will usually cover the costs.

Liability car insurance

This type of coverage will protect you from damages and injuries to others if there is an accident involving your impounded car. This is required by law in most states. This type of coverage will also help pay for the expenses to get your back from an impound lot (and it may also cover you if your vehicle was towed).

This type of policy will typically cover the costs to get your car back if it has been impounded by a third party, such as an impound lot or tow company. Often, this coverage can be excluded if you owe money to a tow company.

Towed car on the road.

Collision and comprehensive coverage

If you have this added to your policy, then you won’t be responsible for paying the costs to get your car back. This is the best possible coverage to have because you won’t be liable for costs, and it also protects your vehicle.

Uninsured motorist insurance

If you were in an accident that wasn’t your fault, then this type of coverage should pay for all expenses involved with getting your vehicle out of impound.

Medical payments or personal injury protection (PIP)

This will cover the medical bills if someone is injured in the accident and any other bills that have accumulated from being towed.

Can You Negotiate Impound Fees?

If you are aware of any extenuating circumstances surrounding your impound fees, it may be possible to get them reduced. For instance, if there was no warning given prior to the tow or an accident happened in which you were not at fault (and this can be proven), then try asking for a reduction.

However, you should be aware of the fact that impound fees are never waived. If you feel as though you have been charged too much, try to negotiate with the company about receiving a form for reimbursement or free storage time until your car is picked up (usually within 24 hours).

You may also contact an attorney to review your case for you, since they may be able to help negotiate the charges.


Many people don’t realize that impound lots and towing companies are two separate entities. Impound lots only handle the storage of your vehicle, whereas tow companies perform actual towing. Moreover, impound lots are typically used by law enforcement, whereas towing companies work alongside the police.

If your car was towed due to an accident or it wasn’t driven for more than one year (in many states), then you will need to look up the specific laws to determine where you should go. If your vehicle is considered abandoned and you are unsure of the steps you need to take, then speak with an attorney about this matter.

Expert Tip: Be sure that you understand what type of storage facility your car is being kept at and don’t be afraid to ask questions if anything seems unclear or confusing. This will not only help in getting a better idea as to how much it’s going to cost you, but it will also help to avoid any possible mistakes that could result in additional fees.

Final Thoughts

Getting your vehicle impounded puts you in a tough spot. Nobody may have prepared you for this event but you have to understand that you’re not the only one going through this situation.

A lot of people were able to overcome this, and you can too. This is why this guide was created so that you can learn what you need to know about getting your vehicle out of impound.

Locate your vehicle, understand the requirements and how much it will cost, and contact an attorney if needed. You may ask your friends or family for help. If this isn’t possible, you may also sell things that you aren’t using any longer or visit a local pawn shop so you can temporarily raise funds to pay for your impound fees.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate for a lower price, and remember that you’ll get through this in no time. Staying calm and taking the proper steps is the best way to get over this obstacle. Don’t be discouraged, because you can do it!

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About Brock Rangel

Hi, I am Brock, and I am the lead editor/photographer for TheCarColony. I have been a mechanic for over 14 years now, and I am here to spread my car knowledge across the web!

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